Eileen A. Smith was born in 1917 on a 98-acre farm in Middle Town, Missouri. She was the youngest of seven children, and came to live with her older sister in Southern California in the mid 30’s, married and raised three children, including Mother Diane Smith and Sharon Smith. During Eileen’s later years she wrote many stories and vignettes about her years growing up on the farm nestled in the woods. “Seasons of Joy” bursts with imagery from her cherished childhood memories.
A very long time ago a little girl lived in a land that had four seasons: spring, summer, autumn (also called fall) and winter. This little girl loved the seasons so much that she decided to share her joy with children who lived in different times and in other lands where there were no real seasons. So as the seasons changed, she wrote down all the things that she loved so much.
She gathered four bundles of word pictures. She tied them securely with ribbons and hid them in a plum thicket where in the springtime white blossoms drifted gently to the ground, where fat purple plums squashed down in the summer, where scarlet and golden leaves fluttered down in the autumn, and where in the winter the wind brought dancing snowflakes to blanket everything in sight.
These are the word pictures that the little girl put together and hid in the plum thicket:
The first bundle was for spring, and she tied it with pink, green, and white ribbons: white clouds, apple blossoms, pink wind flowers, daisies and wild roses, lilacs, wild strawberries, Easter hats, picnics in the woods, baby ducks, calves and chicks, baby cottontails to catch and let go in the orchard.
This is the bundle the little girl gathered for summer and tied with red, white and blue ribbons: gingham sunbonnets, denim overalls, bare feet. Hot biscuits and sliced tomatoes with breakfast. Buttercups, yellow roses and tiger lilies. Sweet clover, clean white clay to dig from banks of quiet pools. Crawdads and snake doctors. Box turtles and frogs smaller that your thumb. Thick carpets of moss, and ferns where fairies must have played and swayed. New dresses, new patent leather shoes. Merry-go-round, balloons, cotton candy, ice cream cones. Sousa marches from the big bandstand. Riverboat songs, angel food cake every Sunday. Cold fried chicken, homemade “light bread” and butter, cucumbers in vinegar for supper. Cool evening breezes, lightning bugs, crickets and whip-poor-wills at nightfall.
These are the words in the third bundle for autumn and tied with orange, purple and gold ribbons: Concord grapes and bushel baskets of pears, new schoolbooks, new crayolas, colored leaves, Winesap apples. New hickory nuts and black walnuts, golden rod. Haze on the hills. Wild geese, harvest moon, pumpkin pie and smoky jack-o-lanterns. Chrysanthemums, box suppers with paper roses on top.
These are the word pictures for the fourth and last bundle for winter tied with Christmas red, green and white ribbons: first snowfall, frost painting on windows. New long underwear, new high-topped shoes. New sweaters, wood stoves and boiled beef dinners. Storybooks, popcorn balls and taffy pulls. Christmas wreaths of cedar and bittersweet. Snow cream, hot cocoa, spice cake. Red birds eating breadcrumbs in the snow. Cozy quilts and wool comforters. Big Christmas packages at the mailbox. Mother’s Christmas cactus. Christmas carols and eight-foot Christmas trees so thick you could hide a thousand presents. Paper chains and chewing gum foil for decorations, tinsel ornaments from Sears-Roebuck (fondly ordered in August). Pages of Rose O’Neil Kewpie Dolls and sweet Buddy Lee (a highly collectible doll—a merchandising prop by Lee Manufacturing Co.). Boxes made of old Christmas post cards crocheted together with red cotton yarn, one for each school child. Ribbon candy and chopped off candy with holiday pictures in the middle.
I cannot tell you now where the little girl hid the bundles; but if you will go someday to the land where the little girl lived and stay for a whole year, you can find the old plum thicket and all the word pictures (now tied with heartstrings) and the four seasons will be yours to remember for always and ever.
I did not feel the sense of completion when finishing this simple little story. I had purposely let my pen follow my thoughts without any studied organization as the story evolved, jotting down my thoughts at random. It was after many months that I discovered what was missing in the story—not that I wanted to change it in any way. I liked the spontaneous words as they spilled out on paper. Expressing the symbolism behind the old plum thicket and the ribbons was missing because I was not consciously aware of it at the time. I discovered that timeless truths lay hidden in my story. The old plum thicket symbolizes that mysterious place in the mind, heart and soul wherein is stored the most endeared remembrances of our childhood. The colored ribbons symbolize the close embrace with which we hold these memories.