Archive for October, 2006
I always was more interested in the past than in the future. The strange and wonderous discoveries of my youth had much to do with finding old things in new places. Growing up in a new suburb created in the remains of an older farming community meant that among the spanking new family homes sprouting in abandoned orchards I searched for evidence of lives that had gone before. The trees themselves were histories of other lives, plum and apricot orchards no longer pruned, picked and replaced provided bowers of contemplation while biting into warm ripe fruit, a paradise of food and thought and summer light. Empty barns hid nesting owls and rusting implements of work days utterly unlike those of my father who rode off to an unknown city each morning and an abstract occupation for which I had no description. Fields of blooming mustard in spring along the walk to school and even in the hinterland of unfenced schoolyards, beckoned to me with promises of hidden fortunes – a meadowlarks nest, humming bees and strange insects beneath the bright yellow canopy where a small person could disappear from the human world and dream away an afternoon nestled in grasses and warm earth.
The past appears to be still, dead, frozen in time but I heard the siren song emanating from colorless photographs and musty artifacts, abandoned houses and bypassed roads, “we are still here” it sang, “this is our story”. It came from within me I know now, from my desire to find something that would explain for me how the places around me and the people around me were creations of what came before them. History, I began to understand, is the genesis of place and place was my metaphor of life. When the Greeks told of Persephone, “the destroyer of light”, captured by Hades and imprisoned in the underworld, they created a place where light was banished, and life was hidden. They turned time into a place where nothing grew, nothing happened. Except in the mind of Persephone, who remembered. What Persephone remembers is the life that went before, and from memory new life springs.
It is that time of the year that in the garden is marked by a certain stillness, a feeling that things have reached an equilibrium between life and death, inhalation and exhalation, burgeoning and decrepitude, anticipation and melancholy. Unlike me, the garden is fearless, plunging into the future while I linger and pine for the failing season. It reminds me, with tinges of color, the metamorphosis of leaf and bloom into seedhead and dust, the haunting trill of a winter sparrow, that this place is time and time is change.