September 20, 2010

I went outside and was drawn to the woods...


Everyone is asleep, I was working on some carvings and decided to step out onto the porch. The moon is pretty much full so there is quite a bit of light slipping through the trees, tossing everything into a world of black and white.

Leaves are beginning to turn and fall, ushering in the season of reflection. I began to aimlessly stroll across the yard, moving through the odd colorless world I beheld. Summer is still in full effect and the smell of green brought an eerie, surrealistic feel to the stark black and grays around me.

The night chorus of crickets and frogs mixed with the cooling temperatures and strange light to create a world full of expectation. The overpowering smell of ripe muscadines laying on the ground drew my mind to places I haven't seen since childhood.

I began to move toward the paths that lead from the edge of the yard to the secret world inhabited by creatures one seldom can see, yet sometimes hear. I walked slightly downhill to the path that directs you towards my father's shop. I stood, gazing at its shape through the trees. I imagined him sitting in front of its opened garage door in the light shining out as I have seen him do so many nights, bent over something he was painting as the sounds of music poured from the building. I sighed as I looked upon its forlorn shape, deadly still and quiet as if it misses his voice and creativity. The moonlight played off of its black windows seeming to scream in silence for his return. A place once so alive with life, color, and sound now stands in resolute solitude, a sad, lonely memorial to days that will never return. I thought about the last night I walked over here like this to find him in front of the door working on a dream catcher... As I walked up out of the woods he glanced my way and said, "Yeah, I can't sleep either... pull up that chair and sit a while.."

I lingered there with the sound of his voice playing in my mind for a few moments before I turned my back to the empty gravel lot in front of the door. The feel of his spirit was strong and I looked over my shoulder half expecting him to be sitting there. The wind began to blow through the trees as I walked down the path and continued on, marking places I know so well... Walking down this old dirt road late at night like this causes the sounds of childhood to be plainly heard. The voices of myself, my brother and my cousin rang up out of the deep ravine to my left as we dug a cave to become our hideout... I couldn't resist climbing up to the edge to look down into the darkness toward the spot where the cave collapsed on top of us as we dug... I smiled to hear the laughter that played off of our lips as we narrowly escaped death so we could sit in a hole in the wall down there... Countless vines are still there that were swung on, I shook my head thinking about how we cared nothing about the fall of thirty feet that we danced with regularly. I traced the pathway up the far side of the ravine, through the roots of the hardwood trees, strange how after thirty years I can still remember the exact foot and hand holds in those twisted roots...

I turned my back to the hallowed spot from childhood and continued down the road until I stood in the fork, to my right is the old garden spot, to the left, the road continues down to the lake. Looking behind me up the road I had just walked down I thought about a day long ago when I stood at the top of the hill and shot guns with my cousins. We had several boxes of old flash bulbs, and stacked them about where I was standing. We shot them from top to bottom, hardly ever missing our targets... I was so wrapped in the memory, I even kicked at the leaves on the ground, half expecting to find some broken glass and plastic...

I walked toward the lake. There is a creek to my right as I make my way down the road, as a child the lake wasn't there, the road crossed over the creek just ahead of me. I stood there looking at the road bed as it disappeared into the water. I followed its old path with my eyes and could still just make out the spot where the road used to continue up the hill. I thought about the countless hours I spent in that creek building dams, alone, working in silence. I looked out over the lake and stood for a while listening to the soft splashes made by creatures I will never see. I looked toward the other end and thought about hot days spent sitting on the dam fishing with my son, fielding unending questions about everything around us. Without a sound I turned toward the old garden spot with thoughts of bug spray, sunburn and fish dancing around in my mind.

Turning the corner and walking downhill in the garden I thought about me and my older son cutting the grass there with a push mower.... We spent the entire afternoon cutting down thigh high grass, all the while waiting for snakes to attack from unseen hiding places. I thought back to being a child and shooting at a hornets nest high in a tree there, I was sure I could knock it down and present it to my dad as a gift, several boxes of twenty two caliber bullets later, I gave up... As I turned to head up the path toward home I looked at the corner of the garden and thought back to the day my brother came down there with his tractor and we cleared all the underbrush away from the base of the huge pine tree that sits there, so my father could drive his kawasaki mule right up to it. We put a two person deer stand in the tree for him to hunt from. He sat in the mule watching us as we got everything ready for him... The moon played off the ground across the garden as the silence of the woods was broken by the unmistakable sound of deer moving behind me. I turned slowly to see them moving up the hollow, barely touching the ground, effortless in their strides through the trees, I could count three, but I'm sure there were more... I waited until they topped the hollow before I continued on...

Halfway up the hill I stopped in front of the old oak tree with the hollowed out trunk... James and I decided that a hobbit of advanced age lives there, and keeps watch over the garden for us when we aren't around... I smiled to myself while thinking about the look on his face as he searches for the hobbit when we ride by there at night on my dads kawasaki mule.

Topping the hill as the path ends in our back yard I look across the blacks and grays of the world I have been locked in for the past hour to the yellow light coming from the window that's just above the computer where I am now sitting... I knew then that within just a few minutes I would be here typing about this brief distraction in time. The silence of the house rings in my ears as I type, replacing the music of the woods filled with memories I just walked through. Sometimes I feel like a ghost haunting my own place...

2 comments:

Junebug said...

It's another good memory story Clay.I really enjoyed it as the memory of taking a ride with you on the mule to some of those places.I could say I remeber going there.
Memories are nice things to have.It would be nice if we could relive some of them wouldn't it?

Petra Voegtle said...

I very much enjoyed your writing about your memories. Thanks for the visit on my blog and your kind compliment!