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Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Season of Memories in the Making

Here are a few more pictures from Ian and Kim’s visit. The Avion travel trailer was their private suite. Sarah loved having them here! When either Ian or Kim appeared, she would immediately begin smiling and wiggling. Look how her tail is a complete blur as she dances around Kim!

Following Amy-Lynn’s example of the other day, I removed the color of this still shot of Ian. The simplicity of black and white seems timeless, doesn’t it?

When I was little, all home snapshots were in black and white. Prints came back from the developer with crinkled edges, bound in bright yellow folders. Color prints from my high school years lacked the clarity of those early pictures, and the color destabilized over the years. All memory does destabilize over time, I suppose. Nothing truly “remains” but must be recreated over and over, attaching to old photo albums, family stories told and re-told, books read and re-read.

“What is life?” “The making of memories.” At least, it occurs to me that that might be one definition. For Americans, whole lifetimes seem to be customarily distilled into seasons of summer and of school, the year divided as if by nature into those two parts. Think about it. How many American memoirs and autobiographies have you read that catalog the writers’ lives that way?

When we were young, summers stretched out to time’s very horizon, endless, vast sunny prairies of days to be filled. Bicycles, camping, lightning bugs, tree climbing and corn on the cob were elements in mine, while others have memories of horses, sailboats and family cottages. It doesn’t matter. From Alaska to Florida, we all remember the feel of the air and the sense of time standing still, sensations that belonged to summer alone. (Is Hawaii different?)

Later, as parents, and then again as grandparents, we seek to recreate our own memories with new generations forming their first. When my sisters and I were small, vacation simply was the trip east on old Route 30 to visit two sets of grandparents and that time spent in Columbus and on the outskirts of Springfield. It was playing jacks on Grandpa Gilbert’s cool, shaded cement front porch or reading in the hammock in the back yard or swinging so high in the tire swing that we could see over the high board fence into other yards. It was feeding Grandma Pringle’s chickens, weeding the vegetable garden, playing barefoot with other barefoot children on that road whose dust was soft as talcum powder between our toes. It was Ohio farm markets and fresh fruit off the trees, running semi-wild, and reading, reading, reading.

A morning e-mail from a friend asked if I’d really read (as my “Books Read in 2010” list claims) Gene Stratton-Porter’s The White Flag. Yes, indeed! With its clear delineations of heroes and villains and the many deep, dark secrets held until the story’s cliff-hanging finish, it was sheer melodrama. Not my usual reading fare, but I enjoyed it immensely. Vacation can be change of literary scenery, too.


Anonymous said...

People who live in this vacation destination spend the summer working really hard, with precious little time to enjoy the water or the sunshine--but we still believe in summer daze, picnics and beachtime and fireflies in the dark.

Come September, we can even indulge in some hammock reading . . .

P. J. Grath said...

Sarah and I got our feet wet this morning in Lake Michigan. Actually, while we didn't swim, we got more than our feet wet. More about that later.