Tuesday, April 29, 2008


When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we did not have computers or video games or even that much TV to take up our time.

My mother worked full time and I spent my early days with my grandmother. She was still raising two boys herself, an uncle who is five years older than I and another uncle who is a year younger than I (and born on my first birthday). My brother came along three years later, so Grandma had a house full.

We spent idyllic days playing outside as much as possible. As soon as the weather warmed we were out the door. We played tag, rode tricycles and bicycles around in circles, and forced dolls and army men to interact.

I spent an enormous amount of time surveying the yard looking for four leaf clovers. I also made lots of necklaces out of the clover flowers, which I presented to my mother in the evenings when she came to pick us up.

In late spring, the maple trees would shed their seeds. These rained down from the treetops in a shower, fluttering to the ground as the wind shook the leaves.

I would stand among them as they fell, enchanted. The seeds would spin around as if they were propellers.

And because they looked like propellers, they required a sound when I scooped them up and tossed them in the air to watch them fall again.

Dibba-dibba-dibba-dibba-dibba-dibba! I cried as nature's toy fled from my hand and into the sky. (I have never been very good at making car noises, gun shot noises, and similar things that boys seem to excel at.)

Soon these tiny seeds became known, at least to me, as dibba-dibbas.

I was reminded of this last Thursday. I was in Salem visiting my aunt, who was in from Georgia. As I left, the wind kicked up and a torrent of maple seeds from across the street flew straight into me.

"Dibba dibbas!" I exclaimed aloud, after which I was grateful no one was standing outside. My mind filled with instant memories of Grandma's house and the side yard where the maple trees provided shade and entertainment.

Proving, I think, that childhood never really leaves us. It simply lays there, awaiting a prompt.


  1. Aren't childhood memories precious? Things that we experience when we're young never truly leave us. I hope I can provide the sort of atmosphere for my children that your precious grandmother gave to you. Thank you for sharing that!

  2. When I was a kid we called those things Pinocchio Noses because we would peel them open and stick them on the ends of our noses.

  3. I used to play with these as a child too and called them helicopters. I now live in a house surrounded by trees that produce them by the thousands all over my deck. Even as I am sweeping my afternoon away, I feel a surge of nostalgia wash over me. I still love those little helicopters from MY childhood. Glad I am not alone!

  4. They were helicopters to us kids. I worked for an MD who was raised in Alabama. He didn't know why we called them that, so one day I picked up a big pile brough them in the office and tossed the in the air. He loved it. I love them!!!


  5. We had a huge maple tree in front of our house when I was a kid. Like Jeff, we'd open the seeds up and put them on our noses. Good times ;)

  6. What a beautiful memory. I have always loved those things (I called them Whirley Birds). And to this day, I can't resist, when I see a pile of them, picking them up and throwing them in the air!


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