A Magpie Tale, a little bit late
My sister and the green house, 1983
I grew up in a green house. My parents selected the five-bedroom, two-story model from the builders' standard floorplans, and chose the mint-chocolate color scheme from the aluminum siding the builders offered. They could not have known that no one else would choose the same, nor that the builders would decline to dig the full depth of the basement into the slope. Thus our green house rose head and shoulders above the beige split levels of the neighborhood. The only rival for its height was the old willow tree in the yard of the farmhouse behind it. The old man upon whose tomato fields our home was built apologized when he built a fence around his remaining acres. "It's not because of you," he promised, offering cucumbers. His farm provided a peaceful view from my window. When I gave directions to our home, I always finished with, "It's the green house. You can't miss it." Our house, set on a hill, could not be hid.
It fit our family, though. Somehow we tended to be culturally distinct from our neighbors. We shared eclectic tastes in music and literature, and a nearly undecipherable sense of humor. We spent our vacations in places of cultural interest, not among the cheap pleasures of the local beach resort. We ate foreign recipes, with ingredients grown in our garden and canned in our kitchen. Our faith, and our devotion to it, set us apart as well. Not that we were trying to be unusual. We just did what we liked, what we felt was right.
I never grew to be tall, but I found myself standing out at school. I wore clothes that my mother sewed, from patterns and fabric of my choice. My choice had little to do with prevailing fashions. I was leery of popular music and television, mostly because of their popularity. I preferred to form my own opinions, based on my own standards. When my friends drew their midday sustenance from a candy bar and a diet soda, I kept packing my peanut butter. I was a good student, because I could be, and I participated in many activities, because they interested me. Thus I became well-known, if not popular. My friends were those who respected me the way I was.