Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Home Truths

You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods...
But there is no road through the woods.
-From the poem 'The Way Through the Woods' by Rudyard Kipling

I have been thinking a good deal lately about our much-loved California town. With the glum days of late Winter still shrouding our present place I find myself turning to the brighter memories for solace and cheer. They do not always come wrapped in blue skies and sunshine; being a person with a predilection toward Winter it is true that innumerable reminiscences are from Winters past- but of a seemingly more optimistic inclination despite the grey and the gloom.
We lived on that most perfect of streets: lined by towering trees; amiable; gently sloped and within a short pace of the main town without suffering from any hustle and bustle by our front door.
I once was locked out of our house accidentally: Spouse had left for the airport and I had stepped outside to say goodbye. We, as it happened, had separate doors and one key for each: I had possession of the front which was closer to the main street and to my college, and Spouse had the back where our car was parked. I exited behind Spouse through the back door to see him drive away. I turned and could not get in again without a key which I of course had never held for the back door; I went to the front and could not get in there either- my key would work but I had latched the screen door from the inside and could not dismantle the chain in order to push my way inside.
I panicked for a brief moment and then saw an elderly gentleman tending his lawn across the street. I scrambled enough bravery together to walk over and ask him to assist me in breaking into my own home. He did so with a garden implement and without hesitation. He let me know that I was not the only one to request
such- stranded neighbours were always coming to him and he was eternally aiding them. I had not spoken to him before and did not do so again but I knew we could rely on our neighbours should it be necessary at any time.
Beside that neighbour there lived a family with two children. They never spoke to us, those small sisters. They would often come bounding out of their house on a clear afternoon and dance, jump about, scream and do generally anything to catch the attention of Spouse and I. They waved often, even when passing by in a car but said not one word in all the time we lived there.
The house next to theirs yet again was the most glaring when it came to Christmas lights every year and over the three Winters we spent on that street the lights grew progressively more aggressive. We have passed three more Winters without seeing that house lit up like Las Vegas and I wonder how it was this season. I wonder if the children still wave to strangers and if that kindly
fellow has been rescuing people all the while.
It is curious, always, to think of life coasting along regardless of absence; of children growing up and, in general, of men and trees growing older. We self-indulgently tend to feel as though Time ought to suspend itself while we cross continents, meet new people and while we ourselves change with the passing days. I see no harm- it holds memories firmly in place and encapsulates a sense of home that cannot be tarnished by the years.

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