From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

My Sisters, Myself and the
Seasons of Life

You keep your past by having sisters. As you get older they’re the only ones who don’t get bored if you talk about your memories. It’s like when you meet someone who’s been to India and you have too; you can talk for hours. Everyone else around you is bored but you’re totally enthralled by each other’s words. It’s like that with sisters.

Debborah Meggah

How time changes everything, and too soon we get caught up in the worrisome trivialities of life. But one hectic afternoon, the scent of my neighbor’s pine trees—that woodsy-turpentine aroma—took me back many years to a time and place when life seemed simpler.

With that whiff of pine from my neighbor’s trees, I was suddenly transported back in time to the halcyon days I spent growing up with my two sisters on our grandparents’ farm in Union Grove, Alabama. In my memory, that 265-acre paradise of lush forest, cows, pigs, chickens and cotton fields remains unchanged, as does the secret place I shared with my sisters.

Our secret place was near a large pond, and we could only approach it in the proper form. We—Mary, Patti and I—would don our flying cloaks (which on ordinary days were bath towels) and race across the pasture, leaping and laughing.

From the pasture we stopped at our clubhouse, which had been used in the farm’s earlier days as a place to store corn. Sometimes we slept there on our father’s Army cots. It was always fun to see which neighbor’s child (or children) would be there, playing; if any were girls, they came along with us.

From there, we ran to our nearest neighbor’s house. They were the talk of the county because they had thirteen children. If they were around in the yard, we allowed the girls to join us. What a laughing, squealing bunch we made! We would run together through the woods, crossing the creek where Momma said a silver fox lived. Arriving at the pond, we would set to work on our glorious playhouse.

Our playhouses were architectural, if temporary, wonders, made with whatever was at hand—usually the red, long-dead needles of the pines we found surrounding the pond.

The art to a pine-needle playhouse is first to find at least five trees, grouped to form a circle, more or less. As trees whispered instructions and cicadas sang their praises, we would carefully twine bunches of the sticky, fragrant needles between the trunks of the stubby cedars and pines, working from the bottom up. The needles all stuck together making wonderfully rustic walls.

Our roofless pine needle houses usually wound up being just about five feet tall; we never felt the need to cover the sky. After finishing the playhouse, Mary, Patti and I, plus our friends, would lie on the ground and, facing the sky and encircled by the walls of our house, we would dream.

Within these walls, we planned our futures completely, down to the schools we would attend, the homes and families we would have, the places we would go and the important things we would accomplish. We shared secrets to be told to the wind or only to each other. Breezes would lift off the pond blowing cool perfume over us, laughing with us when we laughed. Those seasons were golden.

Building those pine tree houses taught me many subtle lessons about life. For we, like the trees, were sturdier if we grew close to those we loved. Like our houses built in a circle yet without a roof, our lives grew taller without the confines of a ceiling. That openness, I think, has stayed with each one of us as we’ve grown up, now with children of our own.

Through the building of our pine-straw playhouses, my sisters and I learned that everything is more worthwhile and more fun when we shared the job, where laughter is shared along with the work. Sharing our dreams helps make them possible. And my “architect” friends showed me the importance of sisters of the heart as well as sisters of the blood.

That was so long ago, and now my sisters—both of the blood and of the heart—and I live several hours apart, and our homes are made of brick, not pine needles, all with snug-fitting roofs.

I hope that when my sisters have rushed days like I do, that when they catch the scent of a pine tree it gives them pause and remember that each season of life, like those golden days we had growing up together, holds promise, and are reminded that living simply and living joyfully hold pleasures that endure long beyond the moment.

T. Jensen Lacey

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners