We skipped down the sidewalk towards the waterfront. A long green lizard skittered across in front of us. Expecting to see only the beach, and hoping only for sea shells, my son noticed a red pyramid in the distance.
We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and sped up. up a bit. Soon, we heard music, it must be a carnival or festival!
“Gosh,” gasped my son, this sidewalk didn’t look THAT long!”
“Everything seems to take longer when we are excited, “ I said, rushing to keep up with him.
“Race ya, Mom!” He smiled.
I visualize the landscape-lonely and forbidding. I wonder where I am this time, within my dream-world. Surely a not pleasant place though it holds a certain mystery. I think of myself, how alone, different, isolated I have always been. Suddenly, I recognize my attraction to the picture. The salt mound or is it sandstone-worn but still surviving, like me. Present, but not seeming to belong there.
Drawing one’s eye, inviting one to explore it, see what it is made of. One would think as their hand ran gently down the surface. Never quite fitting the world it is part of.
photo by dawn Q. Landau
He stood silently offshore, staring at the remnants of an ancient lighthouse. After hours upon hours of research, he had traced his great-times-3 grandfather to this place. He had been the last lighthouse keeper. That had been in the early 1800′s-during the war of 1812, in fact. He spent weeks here, alone as his family waited on the mainland. During fierce battles and raging storms, they were terrified that he would never come home. But he did, and though the lighthouse did not survive to love he passed on to his family was alive and well.
It was Papa’s way to put everything to use. He built our house from the boards of an old barn. He gathered stones from the hillside to make level ground on the mountainside to plant and work.
One day he found himself in need of a storage building. When he went to the village to pick up supplies, he saw a man tearing down a metal building. With his mind racing, he asked the gentleman what he planed to do with the sides, pained with advertizements.
“Wish I knew” huffed the man.
A few days later, Papa was building his storage shed.
The sun was a ball of fire rising through the fog. Finally, the clatter of rain had turned to an autumn portrait of drying flood waters. We rode down the muddy path in our weathered farm wagon, bumping along, hooves clomping, with the wagon filled with produce for the market in town.
The chill in the air, the slush of mud, I pulled my shawl close around me. Then I saw the reflection of the wet green world upon the river. I realized that without both the sun and the rain, we would not be on our way to market.
They anxiously took a seat at one of the rather luxurious tables on the ferry. Feeling humbled, the listened to the announcer on the television screens mounted all around telling about the battles that had taken place at the Civil War fort that they could see ahead as they traveled across the bay.
It seemed irreverent, a bit foreboding, to ride, in luxury, to a place where hundred died and the history of a nation changed. She grasped the family history book that told of her ancestors’ death at this fort, then wiped a tear and traveled on.
She felt herself running, tripping down this odd stair case, the echo of someone following her, close behind. It was rather dark, in this place she’d never been-Italy, maybe, Old Europe?
It seemed the stairs went on and on, chunks of granite worn down by time-some sort of alley way. There were no cares and no doors that led anywhere.
Where was she, who was chasing her? Why was she here? A cold breeze whipped by her, she jumped up. Her heart pounding. “A dream,” she sighed, “only a dream.”
“Where had she seen those steps?” she thought, now awake.
We were sitting at a table outside the coffee shop. The conversation had come down to our thoughts about how we had wished, as teens, to be adults, the suddenly found life escaping us. We had married, our kids were grown, we were old, and what had we really ever done? What happened to that “Bucket List”?
I noticed an older man across the street, looking into the window of a wedding shop. His eyes were wistful, he seemed deep in thought. I wondered if he was thinking the same thoughts that we were? If this was something we all do? He walked on, we finished our coffee. Life.
She walked out in the cold of winter, faded dress blowing in the wind, torn shawl clutched to her shoulder. There was no term “Civil War” to her. The soldiers had conscripted her husband, leaving her with three young children and a belly swollen with child. The war was old, many soldiers had deserted. She had no slaves, many slaves ate better than she and her children did.
The ham was gone from the barn loft where she had hidden it. The Yankee soldiers had stolen it. She was lucky she hadn’t been beaten and raped. She remembered the quote she had read in the newspaper, “It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”. “What,” she cried, “ about the women and children?”