Plaster walls with peeling paint.
Wood siding worn to its core.
The aroma of grandma’s freshly baked oatmeal cookies.
An abandoned house packed with memories.
Layer together and add a bit of blur.
Unexpectedly, one of my hard drives crashed. Thousands of photos remain trapped in a plastic encased tomb. Unsure of what I actually lost, I began searching through the hundreds of backup CD’s I’ve burned.(Really, I had burned them!) So much of the raw materials remained but I rarely save experiments until I’m happy with them. Therefore, many layered pieces are MIA. I should be inconsolable, but I discovered that I’m not.At least not right at this moment. As I searched through CD’s, I found many images that I had forgotten. It was rediscovering that specific point in time. To celebrate, I present a nine-year old sunset !
The Gullah women of South Carolina have perfected the art of sweetgrass basket-making, a traditional craft first developed in Africa. The tradition thrives today in the hands of women who weave these baskets using the same methods and materials. Along a highway appropriately named Sweetgrass Highway, their baskets are for sale along with their stories. I bought a middle – sized one with an edge called elephant ears or roller coaster. It has bands of pine needles to add colors, is signed by the artist and smells wonderful.These baskets on display in the afternoon sun made me think about how much I miss it when I’m not making things and how wonderful it would be to pass on this kind of tradition. Note to self -get busy!
A jar of found pieces in the window caught my eye. I loved that the shop owners cared enough about the remains under their corner of Charleston to display them. It’s these fragments of those who passed before us, and even from our earlier life that makes us who we are. As a magpie, I’m always collecting little pieces that catch my eye. Shells, rocks,charms, wrappers, letters, metal, all find their way into my hands and collections. I think this year is a good time to gather them together and display them to honor those fragments of memory. Using an old glass jar would be a great beginning and I certainly have many of those. I know there are shard lamps, plaques, and vases, but I think they’d be happier without glue or cement holding them static.Any suggestions?
There is no longer a front door, chimneys, mantels or window glass.You can almost picture a swarm of locusts descending and eating their way through the house.No locusts. Humans. Scavenger is a more appropriate word. The house beckoned from a roadside between Nashville and Memphis. I wish I could be more specific but when we road trip, we’re never exactly sure.Empty to the elements and those that felt they had a better use for the brick than the chimneys that once graced the home, it is a carcass. Stepping over the threshold, I could find glimpses of what the home might have been.Traces of color and scraps of wallpaper provided detail. The bird’s nest meant it still could provide shelter.Late afternoon sun warmed walls and door frames. I wondered what the former owners would feel to see it standing naked to the weather and abandoned to its fate.
Nearly hidden by nature’s overachievers, a tin roofed cabin sits silently except for an occasional creak or shudder when bullied by the wind. Its struggle to remain standing and mark its place is a testament to the memories it protects.No longer shaded by the neighboring oak, but reminded daily of its sacrifice, the cabin dreams of the day it will once again provide shelter and warmth to a family. As unlikely as that dream may be, it remains .
Growing up in New York, one of my places of refuge as a child was an old stone building on East Sixty-seventh street. Two heavy wood doors with big brass handles opened into a world of color and silence. The marble entry hall floor was cool and patterned. The smooth old wooden bannisters on the stair, had been polished by the hands of generations of children before me. A private club, for which admittance and independence depended on the ability to sign your name. Offering a place to think and indulge in fantasy, free for the taking to all who clutched the card . The library. The tall walnut shelves tickled the ceiling and a rolling ladder gave access to even its highest reaches. I often thought I could live there comfortably. Unfortunately,the chance to move in never presented itself, and I was probably too much of a rule-follower to risk sneaking an overnight stay. What if I lost my privileges ?!! After visiting the main branch on Fifth Avenue, although not nearly as cozy as my branch, I realized it had the lock on grandeur. Imagine being guarded by lions! What a home that might have been!
Driving along a country road in Kentucky, we came upon this house overtaken by shrubs and vines. Pulling off the road to explore further, it looked like it had slept for the past fifty years. Quietly approaching, I found myself moving slowly as if not to disturb the silence. It had seen better days when its paint was fresh and the screen door would slam countless times a day as children tore in and out again. Now it stood empty of voices. The porch swing remained and still squeaked in the breeze. At first I thought it was in protest to my trespass, but I realized it sounded a welcome .Requiring that I notice it still hung stalwart and strong, the guardian of many happier times.My witness would keep those memories safe a bit longer.
A side porch in North Carolina is where I borrowed the ancient washing machine and abandoned materials. The weathered siding came from a garage in Tennessee. Together they hint at a time before everything was electric, fast and disposable.Sometimes taking a step backward isn’t wrong. My memories of my grandmother spending all morning with a wringer washer and hanging the clothes on a double line across her front yard are strong. My job was to capture the errant clothespins and corral them in a pouch that waved in the breeze.. The kitchen smelled from warm soapy water and the scent of the clothes was a blend of sunshine and zinnias. Detergents and fabric softeners can’t compete with the memory.
An old general store, host to many town gatherings wears a do not trespass sign as it sits still dressed in its work clothes. From the outside it looks as it has for many years. A glimpse through the keyhole (and a window) helps me imagine . I can hear the conversation around me, smell the coffee and listen to the sounds of the everyday. But its time has passed and I can only dream.
An invitation to play
Unearthed in an antiques shop
Glass vials glow
In an array of rainbows
Musty albums lean
As unwrapped gifts
Where the confetti of nameless portraits
Spills off their pages
Emptied china teapots
Witnesses to everyday dramas
Reveal not a word
But huddle together for warmth
While lackluster souvenirs of distant places
Keep company with worn luggage and postcards
Their journeys tightly bound
To prevent escape.