Friday, April 20, 2018

Story Beans and Golf Balls




In my early childhood we lived on a golf course in Independence, Kansas.  In the spring the land came to life. Lilac and forsythia bushes surrounded the old clubhouse, filling the air with sweetness and beauty just perfect for a five year old who loved to sit in the shade to play. The fence behind the bowling alley and golf shop was overgrown with creamy yellow honeysuckle and orange hummingbird vines. These vines not only attracted me, but they invited bees and wasps.
Catalpa bloom

However, it was the catalpa tree that fascinated me the most because of the long green string beans that dropped from it. The caddies and I called it a bean tree. 



Nearly a child of the prairie, I discovered that I could suck the honey from the honeysuckle, eat the tiny yellow weeds, the flowers on the clover, mud pies made from scratch, and the beans from the bean trees.  When no one was looking I'd open the pod and pop a bean into my mouth. 
Then swirled the bean around on my tongue until I swallowed it, but those beans didn't go to my stomach, instead they went to my head and stirred up my imagination. 

Later, I discovered that they weren't edible beans, they were really story beans and every bean held a story.

One day I heard a lot of screaming down by the lake. I ran down and saw the caddies rake a large black snake out of the lake.  Right in front of me they cut open its’ belly.  Finding the belly full of golf balls, I screamed with fear and delight then I reached out to feel the snake’s insides, and couldn’t wait to tell everyone what I’d seen.

Running uphill and tearing through the screen door yelling, “Mom, Mom, Mom,” I was met by a stern look with pursed lips followed by a shushing sound. My mother told me to hush as the baby was sleeping.  That baby sure got a lot of attention, I thought.

So the next day, I told the nun at school and was greeted with much the same sternness. "How many times do I have to tell you that the truth is what I want to hear from my students, not made up stories!"

Very few teachers ever appreciated my stories, but golfers and fishermen have long been storytellers or fibbers, as my dad often called some stories.  From that time on beans have been a part of my diet for good health and perhaps just a taste of humor.

So, imagine my delight as we walked “Amen’s Corner” this year at Augusta National.  Oh, but that’s another story. 





This story is dedicated to Diana Marie Latta (1945-2011), a teacher friend who loved to hear me tell about the Story Beans, and to Ruth Ann Walenz (2015-) a curious adventurous no-fear young girl.