As some of you may already know, I was a foster child up until I was adopted at age 13. When I was 7 and 8 years old I lived with a family, out in Lynnfield, that owned and operated a small goat farm. They had goats, chickens, ducks, geese and if I remember correctly, they had a horse. They also had two dogs, Sammy and Moose. Sammy was Moose's mom. They were springer spaniels. Sammy was black and white (like an Oreo cookie) and Moose was brown and white (like mousse and whipped cream).
I was welcomed in their home, which I expected - no one would ever appear like the wicked step-mother in front of social worker. They were all very nice and I had an opportunity to meet their older daughter, who lived in their garage apartment. I was then shown my room and I knew, straight from seeing the bedroom, that I wasn't really welcomed there.
The way their home was, it was appeared as though they had a 'servants' quarters in the back of the house. From the living room/kitchen area, you would take a left up through the dining room and up the back steps to get to this bedroom. There was a laundry room straight ahead, to the right there was a door with a latch, and to the left was my bedroom. It overlooked the backyard and the farm. It was dusty. Filled with boxes (like a storage room) and there was a bed with a beautiful patchwork quilt.
When my social worker left, I cried. I didn't want to stay. I was scared. I wanted my mom and I didn't want to be there. I don't remember if I had a temper tantrum, I just remember being upstairs on that bed, sitting in the darkness with tears dripping from my eyes. My foster parents slept in the front of the house, which I could access through the closed latched door. I didn't want to bother them.
But I was surprised when I heard the pitter-patter of paws climbing up the back steps. Sammy and Moose were coming up to check on me. (I'm actually starting to tear up as I type this)
They both jumped on the bed and I remember burying my face in Sammy's fur and letting loose. I cried until I couldn't cry anymore. When I was done, Moose looked me straight in the eyes - his eyes glistening in the darkness as if he had been crying too - and licked me upside the face.
I loved those pups.
I don't remember falling asleep, but when I woke up only Sammy was on the bed with me, by my feet, and I was laying diagonally across the bed in a fetal position. My head resting on a windowsill.
My foster mother was at the door, rapping on it lightly and calling out my name. At first I couldn't hear or understand what she was saying, but as soon as I rose I could hear she was asking me if I wanted to go to the barn with her and see the animals.
I felt my heart palpitate with excitement. I loved animals and I did want to see them. But then the 'abused child' in me figured this was a trick, and if I went I was probably going to be stuck picking up animal excrement. I opted not to go, and instead I laid back on the bed and cried. I wanted my Mommy.
It took me a while to realize that I was actually wanted there. My foster parents eventually removed all the boxes, placing them in the bedroom behind the closed latched door; the room that my foster parent's mother would stay in when she visited. When the latched door was opened it served as a walk-thru to their main hallway where their, and their daughter's, bedroom was.
When the boxes were gone, I noticed there were lots of lovely green shelves and cabinets available to explore, built into the left side wall. Getting beyond the dust (and I mean thick dust), I was pleasantly surprised to find a treasure trove in each cabinet and drawer. Books of all different shapes and sizes. Papers and crayons. Old fashion styled dolls with paper dresses. Even what appeared to be dress up clothes.
I hadn't brought any toys with me, so this was a fascinating and wonderfully surprising find.
To fast forward a little ... once I began to feel comfortable there - now don't get me wrong, this family never mistreated me in any way - I began to explore their yard. The back yard was huge! It had two sections. There was the initial backyard that had lovely trees and lush green grass, and split between the two yards was a little stream with a small, wooden bridge to walk across. The stream was probably no wider than two feet and I relished in trying to jump across, hoping to land on the other side unscathed. I usually made it, unless the land was sopping wet in which case my boots would sink and I'd have to throw my arms out to help balance myself. I fell in once ... was scolded ... and never did it again.
Once you crossed the bridge was the barn. It smelled like a barn too. The smells of hay and dust, and animals - it was a comforting smell actually. No matter how odorous it was, it's always something I fondly look back on. In the mornings we'd water and feed the animals. Collect the eggs and brush the goats. My foster mother and foster sister would milk the goats, and we'd go back to the house for breakfast.
To the right of the barn was a large tree with an old tire swing. I would spend hours in that tree, climbing it, swinging on it and investigating it. You know, one time I even found a bird's nest in it. I was sad to discover that the birds never lived though ... there were skeletons of the babies still in the nest suggesting the momma and daddy birds never returned to feed their babies.
Behind the barn was a little, one room, red painted, building with a wood burning stove. There was a small Formica kitchen table and two chairs, a rocking chair and more shelves full of treasures (I would later learn this was my foster parent's father's pipe-smoking place).
Often I would pretend to be some lonely princess, wondering the woods and stumbling on this one room house. I spent hours in there as well, usually singing or reading. I loved its solitude. I felt like Sleeping Beauty, locked away in a castle.
So what does this all have to do with me liking spring so much (and fall for that matter?), well ... this was the one home, as a foster child, that I actually felt safe. That despite the separation between bedrooms, a place that I truly felt wanted and at home. At springtime the chickens would lay new eggs with babies and the goats would have new kids. The ducks would quack and swim, and the geese would honk. It meant the bubbling steam, that I would slide my boots on when it was frozen ice pretending to be a figure skater, would be thawed, and the whispering sound as it passed through the earth was like beautiful music to me. Even though I was asked to do chores, like feed the animals and pick the eggs, I WANTED to do it. I looked forward to it.
It was exciting to feel wanted and praised for a job well done. When the eggs would hatch, I'd cradle the little, fuzzy chicks in my hand and nuzzle them against my cheek - they were so soft and so sweet. Their chirps ringing new life. I even got to see a baby goat born ... and what a thrill it was when I was asked by my foster mother what I would want to name this new little girl; I named her Lily.
Sigh ... I was devastated when I was told by my social worker that I would have to be rehomed. I never really understood why, especially when I thought things were going so well. Especially when I really, truly felt I was 'home'. Deep down I figured it was because my foster parents didn't want me anymore, that they wanted to retire and travel the world.
When I left there ... I cried. I kissed the animals goodbye, sat in my one room house - the forlorn princess that I truly was - and gave that tire swing on the old tree one last push.
I didn't say a word to my social worker when she drove me to my new foster home out in Tewksbury. The family welcomed me in - just as I expected - and once again the vicious cycle began.
But despite what happened after that family in Lynnfield, I will always go back to my past - to those very early days of spring - and I will remember the good things that happened in my life. (The fall too ...)