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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Places We Claim By Memory


Roads to worlds we once knew...

By Harry Cummins

     We each have them.  Places and landscapes from our past that remain indelible.

     Forty-one years ago I lived alone as caretaker in an abandoned mansion that is now part of a winery located west of Portland, Oregon.  For the two years I lived there, my only companions were a Great Dane dog and a friendly ghost who was often heard but never seen. Mostly, I was alone with my own thoughts.

     I resided in a small apartment above a 4-car garage connected to the back end of the house.  It overlooked a large lake that today is surrounded by mature vineyards with expansive and unspoiled vistas. My responsibilities included maintenance of a massive lawn and periodically dusting dozens of empty rooms for those potential buyers that seldom came.  I would ride my bike back and forth to a nearby town each day, where I held what most would consider a much more respectable job. It was merely a continuation of what has become for me a lifelong 'straddle' of inner work and outer work, the visible world along side the unseen one.

     Last week I paid an early September visit to my former "home" and instantly realized how easily we can repeatedly reclaim these special places thru the natural process of remembering.  Of course, memories become selective after four decades and offer little clue as to why and what we choose to remember and forget.

     As long as our memories remain unclouded by age, disease, or searing regret, I realized what a blessing it is to be able to simply recall.  There is abiding affection for these special places (and people) that have either vanished or changed over the years.  Or still remain.

     Places and people, like divine promises, that have lovingly persisted and unknowingly transformed us. We caretakers all.

"Try to remember the kind of September ....when life was slow and oh so mellow. Try to remember when you were a tender and callow fellow Try to remember.... and if you remember... ..follow.

                              -Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, songwriters


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