November 14th is the anniversary of my late sister’s birth, and I thought it would be fun to post something of her. I have some photos of just Jeni somewhere but none scanned and handy, and I like this one. The stamp on the border indicates that the development of the film (or at least the printing of this photo, which for our family would have been the same business transaction) was late spring or early summer of 1970, so the photo of us in the front yard of our childhood home at 1653 106th Avenue S.E. was probably taken in spring of that year. I don’t remember what the occasion was, but we took this sort of photo only rarely, such as on Easter or the first day of school. Jeni was nine at this moment. I was eight.
While Jeni and I share the focus of this photo, there are some interesting things haunting its edges. The tricycle that Jeni is leaning on is our little brother Ben’s, at least it was at that time (it may have belonged to all three of us in succession); he would turn four later that summer. Jeni’s bike is parked under the front eves behind that wretchedly prickly juniper bush – you can see its back wheel behind my left leg – and one of the handlebars of my own sting-ray-style bike can be seen sticking up along the leftmost divider of the big plate glass window, which reflects the giant Douglas fir trees in our front yard and across the street; the sweeping curve of their branches as they swayed in gentle breezes is one of the things my eyes know as a prime visual memory.
At the right edge, you can see some wooden two-by-fours on the roof of the house (the television antenna is behind it at the roof’s peak); this framework supports a basketball hoop and backboard that my dad built for me so I could shoot hoops in the driveway with my friends. John Tillotson, who was the first real hippie in our neighborhood and my friend Ribby’s older brother, did a lay-up one day and cracked the backboard, which made the rim of the hoop tilt forward just a little bit, and it stayed that way forever.
Finally, you can see the top of a pine tree over the top of the house; that tree was at the top of the back yard by the fence, and my brother and I used to climb it a lot. I weighed so little, even as a teen, that I could sit in the swaying topmost branches, right up there by the apical bud, whence I could see out over the house, over the neighborhood and beyond the slough to a spot where there were no trees beside the Burlington Northern tracks on the west side of Woodridge hill. When I heard the train’s horn blow, I would run to climb the tree, and I would count the engines and the railroad cars as they rolled past the gap. – mdf
Image archive ID:
About the physical photograph:
<This one is somewhere in my collection; when I lay my mitts on it I’ll fill in this info>