Old tin roof, leaves in the gutter
A hole in the screen door big as your fist, and flies on the butter
Mamaw baking sugar cookies…
Heard her holler from the kitchen ‘which one of you youngin’s wants to lick the spoon?’
Yellow jackets on the watermelon, honeysuckle in the air…
Old dog napping on the front porch, his ear just a-twitching…
It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago…
Me and my best friend Jenny set up a back yard camp
Stole one of Mama’s Mason jars, poked holes in the lid and made a fire fly lamp
(excerpts from lyrics of Flies on the Butter by Wynonna Judd)
The rest of the chorus says you can’t go home again, but I’m not so sure. When I think of Mom baking cakes with umpteen children milling around, and me and my best friend Becky playing in the woods, and chasing fireflies late into the night (8pm), I’m not sure I’m not actually there.
These parts of our childhoods are part of us — our cells remember the past as if it were actually right now, today.
- I feel the breeze coming through the kitchen window, carrying the fresh green scent of leaves crushed by kids’ feet racing through the forest.
- I clearly hear Mom’s voice reigning over the controlled chaos, and the smile now on my lips might be hers just as much as mine.
- I feel the inner angst of wanting to keep those fireflies captured forever while not wanting to impinge on their freedom.
- I feel the scratches along my forearms from (willingly!) carrying loads of firewood.
- I feel the strong softness and smell the earthy sweetness of moss patches that I wove through string to create a wall hanging on a piece of fallen tree branch.
- I see the shy pride on my father’s face as he gently places a sun-warmed strawberry on the counter, from his front-yard patch, or a tiny but blood-red tomato from the vine up back in the woods
- I feel the warm comforting weight of the cat sleeping across my legs night after night as I fell asleep to the chorus of cicadas (after fervent prayers to keep me safe from spiders).
Listening to this song today, I’m reminded that for all the times we believe in the lifelong impact of childhood trauma, maybe we can also believe in — and deeply feel — the lifelong impact of childhood magic.