I detached my shadow and sent it skipping and scampering along. The short bulbous shade would return later in the evening, tired and stretched to the point of dimming. As always on hot lazy Sundays I would sit in the front porch swing of my family's home and enjoy its wanderings. I was cooled as it stretched across the rich cold springs, which fed the creek, and elated as it climbed those grandfather Cypress trees to peer into owls' nests.
The summerhouse was shaded and scented by wisteria, jasmine, and roses, and the buzzing and bumping of many hummingbirds could be heard. Inside one of these small ruby-throated birds my young cousin Lilly cavorted on wing. Her laughter, was like tiny distant bells, as she buried herself in one luscious flower after the next, drinking deep of its sweetness. In a broom closet, off the kitchen, Uncle Henry Mayhew had drawn his leathery wings tight around him for a nap. When he awakened, the black-green oily membranes would unfold and he would emerge from his cocoon, pink, wrinkled, and rested; the universe's oldest babe!
All around, and inside the large Victorian house with its attics, gardens, sheds and secret cool caves in miles of hedgerows, family, most of whom were visiting, were resting or playing after Sunday dinner. Young southern bucks dressed in bronze skin and jeans played football on the front lawn, which stretched to the blue top country road a quarter-mile distance. Children of cousins from San Francisco changed into hares while other cousins rode winds and bolts of lightning in a storm cell pushing in from the west; from Mississippi.
Marion Mayhew Walsh formed a silver bubble around herself and cousin Jason, a freshman at Boston University, and encouraged his hand to travel along her thigh under a simple sheath of a dress. Cousin Marion was a stage actress of some note, most known for her earthy portrayals of Tennessee Williams' heroines. She tended to let her characters charms melt with her own, the dynamics drawing men to her like a moth to flame.
It was a typical summer Sunday and soon homemade ice cream, flavored with strawberries and peaches would be produced on the back stoop by the men, who rolled up starched white sleeves to crank the score of wooden churns. My shadow was rippling on a large stone that dripped cool thick moss and sprouted ferns when Aunt Pearl called the men to begin the weekly ritual of making ice cream.
I sat on the step next to Jason and with fevered whispers and elfish grin, he gave me the details of his encounter in the barn. Cousin Marion, I noticed had the scent of fresh cut hay mingling with her lilac perfume, when she breezed past us to settle in with others under the mimosa. Primly she sat with her ankles crossed, her scant dress suddenly less revealing, on the lawn furniture, which had been freshly whitewashed this spring.
Others began to appear, their hair and eyes blown wild. Emily had left the blossoms of the summerhouse and was now darting among the fragile pink and white fluff that flowered on the canopy hanging over Marion and others of the brood.