There was a tree that stood old, crooked and tired by the pond.
A run through the cornfield brought us from pond to shelter when spring hail pelted our exposed backs. I don’t know what kind of tree it was, but it stands clear in my memory as witness to our childhood. It’s the landmark I look for still when I return home to examine the evidence that remains from another time and place.
I am a detective on my trips back in time. Some part of me believes that I will turn over a rock or stumble on a tree root that will expose or reveal a childhood treasure, some thing that waits for me, some thing that lives just out of view. Some part of me believes that the past exists in it’s entirety behind a veil and if I can chance upon the opening, that I will once again step into that untouched place.
The only thing left of the farmhouse I grew up in is a corner lot, two paved driveways and a single cement step. A lilac grows abundant and unchecked near the entrance. But was the bush on the right or the left of the path? There are only clues.
Smell the lilacs?
Enter the trees?
Walk along the pond’s edge?
Find a key buried in the dirt?
Maybe the barn swallows can lead me back. Maybe they know the path to the rafters and the pungent smell of fresh mowed hay.
I know it’s all there.
I know it’s all waiting for me.
I can feel it and taste it. Almost touch it.
There is my Aunt locking the screen door because she has just mopped the floor. There I am, banging on the latch to get in, unwilling to be separated.
My grandmother is asleep in the upstairs bedroom ~ or ~ looking out through lace curtains as my uncle plows the field below.
This place lives in me, so it must live out there as well, but how do I get to it?
How do I get back?
That time belongs to me, as surely as my skin and bone, but I can’t find it anymore. I have lost it.
Where did it go?
I am the daughter of that time and place.
I am the daughter of the land.
The rest has just been story.