by Cathy Leestma

One of the few bright spots of Covid 2020 and beyond for me has been the recovery of memories obviously deeply hidden until  this world event slowed me down long enough to bring them back to consciousness.  I grew up in Sarasota, Florida where I spent many hours exploring the out of doors. About five minutes down the neighborhood street, peddling full throttle on my aqua Murry Jet bike was the huge dirt sand lot where I played hours of softball and touch football with the local boys.    

Florida is mostly sand and not just at the beaches. It is a great hotbed for sandspurs. You learn at an early age not to cross an open field or even the edge of a sidewalk without shoes. It gives me the shivers to this day remembering a foot full of “spurs”.  Local Floridians might have the debate which is worse to step on, new growth green “spurs” or the more mature, yet extremely painful brown “spurs”.  See  I made you forget about Covid for just a moment.

Even more mundane but also very impressive are the crushed oyster shell sidewalks that covered our neighborhood. As a child, my world was small, however the sidewalks became my path to extended frontiers. Funny what you remember isn’t it? I remember how the sidewalks felt on my bare feet and I remember running like all get out when they blistered the souls of my feet as they were heated by the torrid summer sun.  I remember frying gooey eggs on those same sidewalks.

 And I remember which houses built bomb shelters when the Cuban Missile Crisis shook our world and overhearing my parents whisper about a nuclear war. How could that be?  Cuba is ninety miles off the coast of Florida. The end of my young life was a real possibility. Perhaps that is why in October of 1962, this eleven year old girl sat on the curb by the oyster colored sidewalk and had a serious talk with God.

This Covid year God and I have had many difficult conversations. But He continues to remind me that life swings both ways and we need to believe that we are headed for the sandlot and a glorious afternoon .