Opening onto the sliding glass doors of my bedroom is what is advertised as a three-season room; I call it my solarium because it is a room of windows as much as of walls, a lovely and a light-filled space facing due south – ideal for plants tucked among wicker chairs and wrought-iron pieces in warm weather, but lethally hot for human beings. The windows are single-paned and drafty, and ill-fitting actually, and the walls and roof are aluminum-clad sheets encasing slabs of Styrofoam. In winter it is a freezing space suitable for keeping hanging slabs of beef, if I were of a mind to use it as a slaughter-house storage space. In fact, the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of September are the only times of year during which it is fit for living beings of the primate variety. All of the other 48 weeks of the year, it is either too cold or too hot to be functional.
My solarium was already a part of the house when I bought it, and for the first couple of years of my residency, I assiduously applied myself to making it a part of my daily living space. I outfitted it with plush lounge chairs and matching ottomans; swathed its windows with luxurious draperies, and installed a strategically positioned television set, as well as a rotating fan. The central air conditioning would reach the room, huffing and puffing, after several hours of trying, and at best the fan assisted feebly in this effort. In addition to the aforementioned drawbacks, the solarium overlooks an exceedingly busy, and therefore, noisy three-lane highway, a byway for cars and trucks, even semi-trucks, of every variety – from early morning to late evening Mondays through Fridays, it competes with any raceway anywhere on earth. While either swabbing my sweaty face with a handkerchief or cloaking my shivering body in an afghan, above the din of the traffic that is unimpeded by the thin walls and inadequate windows, I needed the keen ears of a canine to hear the television, and at my point in life, my naturally inferior Homo sapiens ears are not what they used to be. I finally gave up and resolved myself to the fact that my lovely solarium is a primarily useless anteroom to my life that for practical reasons, I keep closed off behind the sliding glass doors.
Despite its negative aspects, and not counting its beauty, my solarium has a vital redeeming quality however: it gains me access to the rain. Actually, the inspiration for writing this piece this night comes from the rain that is washing the western side and beating on the roof of my metallic solarium at this precise moment. As I lie here on my bed with my laptop straddling my thighs, the sliding glass doors are open to my solarium, open to the sound of the rain, a sound that carries me back to the rains of my childhood, those rains that are the source of my love of rain. I will try to take you back there with me.
The initial eighteen months, and every weekend and summer of my life until I entered the first grade, was centered on the Southern Ohio farmlife of my maternal grandparents. Although when a toddler I accompanied my parents and my baby brother to our new home in the city, until we were forced to make roots there with my entrance into school, our “real” life was considered by us to be “down home on the farm.” I retain a storehouse of memories of my life on the farm, not only of those early days, but extending to my early twenties when everything changed with the illness of my grandfather that put a stop to his farming career, and required relocation to town to gain easier access to his doctors and the hospital.
My grandparents owned three farms during their working years: the one that was the place of my birth; the one of which they took possession when I was a preschooler; and the last one to which they moved when I was nearing the end of my teenage years. It is the second farm that resides most prominently in my memory, a typical farm of the time featuring a red barn and whitewashed chicken houses and raw-wood pig pens (nowadays replaced with other structures, none of them red), and a saltbox farmhouse rising to two-stories within its whitewashed clapboard sides, and capped-off by a pitched tin roof.
Positioned at the summit of German Hill in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio, its tin-roofed front porch then as now spans the entire width of the house and overlooks the star-wound crater in which a long-ago native society built the Great Serpent Mound. That view of the crater, preferably taken in while sitting in the porch swing, is the pride and glory of my family, made accessible to us to this day by my Uncle Dean who purchased the farm from my grandparents upon their move to the third farm. Uncle Dean is pictured here in a recent photo I shot of him while he sat in the porch swing and gazed at the star-wound crater. The full view of the crater from the porch can be seen as my banner page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/LindaLeeGreeneAuthor .
From the porch one steps into the front room of the farmhouse, its focal point a chugging wood-burning stove in winter. Off of this central parlor radiates two bedrooms, a kitchen, and at the back, what used to be a summer kitchen has been converted by Uncle Dean to a combination mud and laundry room, as well as a separate bathroom. Prior to that time, the toilet facility was gained by a path to a gelid in winter and malodorous in summer outhouse.
Tucked behind the front entrance of the farmhouse is the door to the staircase that leads to the upper floor, and at the head of the stairs is a small bedroom housing a full-sized bed and a mirror-topped chest of drawers. I recall some of my cousins being folded cozily into the spacious bottom drawer of that chest in lieu of a bassinette when they were babies. A doorway in this first bedroom leads to the largest room in the house, now a storage room, but back then, a sleeping room set up with several beds in dormitory fashion, all of them as were all of the several beds in the house, topped with feather-stuffed mattresses. It was there that my mother, my aunts, my brother, our young cousins and I were crooned to sleep to the sound of the rain dancing on the tin roof of the farmhouse, and as sweet as are all of my recollections of those days, the sweetest of all is the sound of the rain on that roof.
My solarium, with all of its faults taken into account, is worth its weight in gold to me because on rainy days and nights the sound of the rain against its metal structure transports me back to those times of the soothing rain on the tin roof of my grandparent’s farmhouse, days that are among my happiest, and are the source of some of my most precious memories.
This farm is the backdrop of my latest novel, GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS, a semi-biography of my grandparents, my parents and their siblings spanning 1936 to 1941. It is a story of the heroism of these ordinary people played out against the bad and the good times of the Great Depression and World War II, a story told in part through firsthand accounts of the times in authentic letters featured in the book, letters written by these same people. Available in paperback format, or in eBook for your PC, laptop or Kindle, easy access to the novel is gained through clicking onto this URL: http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Other-Angels-Linda-Greene/dp/1897512562/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338336762&sr=8-1. To read excerpts of my current and future books, log onto booksbylindaleegreene.gallery-llgreene.com.
To view my online art gallery, log onto www.gallery-llgreene.com