Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sleeping with a Full Moon Blanket

How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again. James Agee

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away
Should I be beside myself
And not even stay.

- Chris Cornell, Seasons

Recently, the porch of our house was filled with great friends. Lots of laughter. Lots of smiles. A few new in-jokes were created. There were things that were healed while brand new cracks appeared elsewhere.

It was a good weekend.

It's late as I write this. Or early, depending on your point of view. I just got back from a walk outside. The sky's jet black and the stars are so sharp and clear that I found myself caught up in their beauty. The neighborhood trees reach for the heavens, their arms now bare and absent of the color they had only weeks ago. I pulled my wool peacoat tighter around me, trying my best to close off the wind, but tonight it was an exercise in futility.

Winter's on its way.

The farm house I grew up in had lots of drafty windows. My bedroom was on the third floor, just beneath the uninsulated attic. Sometimes at night, I'd sneak upstairs and look around. The wooden floor was gritty beneath my bare feet. Boxes here and odd ball furniture stashed there. Gray barn spiders would spin their traps along the edges of the wooden ceiling beams.

Some of the things in the attic belonged to my parents or my grandfather. Others belonged to the landlord, who had left some things behind. When we moved, I found letters and postcards tucked beneath the floorboards and a few glass Indian trade beads.

In the spring, I'd sit and listen to the rain pattering down on the tin roof, but mostly I'd just pull the chain link string on the single lightbulb in the ceiling and think. There were two windows on either side of the attic and in the winter it was often cold enough to see my breath inside the house. It was creepy being up there alone at night, but I liked it.

I enjoyed the solace. The quiet. The space to collect my own thoughts (yes, I was quite the deep thinker even at a young age) and it was a great spot to let my still-maturing muse find her voice. I'd wonder if there were ghosts up there beside me.

I'd stay up there for as long as I could, until my hands and feet had started to go numb, and then I'd go back downstairs into the soft quilts of my warm bed.

Life has damn sure changed.

Over the years, I've adopted many spots to let my muse whisper to me. Barns. Woods. A lake. A cemetery. They've all given her the ability to speak openly and freely to me when she needs to.

But nothing's ever lived up to the attic of my youth.

The barn collapsed and the farm house has been torn down now for years... 55 acres of farm land divided in half to make homes for two well-to-do familes. I went back as an adult and took pictures before it was gone. Even in photographs, the place still held magic, though it had developed a patina with age and a mournful sort of sadness to it, like a god that had been worshipped mightily for eons, and been forgotten.

I visit the old place in my mind sometimes. I'd memorized every ridge of the farm; knew where every interesting part of the stone wall was... where the sweetest honeysuckle grew down by the stream where the crayfish made their home. I knew where two hunting dogs were buried, and where I laid to rest the best friend a boy could ever have.

I could tell you where the best spots to pack down a sled trail were and how if you greased up the sled with just the right about of Crisco oil, how far you'd make it before the sled stopped in a cloud burst of white.

I can see it all in my mind now... just as if I still lived there. I visit the barn and my attic most often... can picture them clear as a bell in my mind... see the plumes of breath curl from my mouth and nose as I sit in a corner, arms hugging my knees.

Some days, that seems like so long ago.


Anonymous Cissy said...

Ahhh, those cold wintry nights, with the moon full, spilling it's light through the bare branches of the trees in the wooded valley and on a snowy covered bank. And there we were, about 12 midnight, our parents inside shooting the bull, and we were outside, breathing in the cold air until our lungs hurt, laughing our heads off while sledding down the hill in your front yard trying to miss the pond and barely missing the barbed wire fencing. Those were some times........thanks for taking me back

11:16 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

We had some great times, didn't we? Every once in a while I hear "Ghost Chasers" and have to laugh to myself about all those nights - both winter and summer - where we let our imagination run wild. =)

9:21 AM  

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