Sunday, July 25, 2010

Plum Farm again...

Some friends have asked why I posted Robert Lewis Stevenson. One friend said it was very retro. It's funny because this poem always meant a lot to me. It is not just farewell to the farm, but farewell to childhood, to innocense. To everything...This poem and Dylan Thomas' Fern Hill have stayed in my mind as poems about saying good-bye to our childhood selves. Where time doesn't matter and everything feels infinite and eternal. My father always wanted a farm. He dreamed of owning one. At his memorial service I had my nephew, Bill, read the Stevenson poem. From A Child's Garden of Verses, of course. I can still almost recite that book by heart. I read those poems over and over as a child. "I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me..." Anyway below I have written that my cousins sold Plum Farm the day we arrived a couple weeks ago. Places can become like people to us. In today's NYTimes Verlyn Klingkenborn writes about his garden. How a perennial garden is as much about memory as it is about plants. This is for me what happens with places. It is not simply the geography, the architecture, the antiques. It is something we laughed over, the pileated woodpecker that flew by, the times in the sugar shack when I painted all day and no one disturbed. It is meals of grilled steak, corn, tomato and basil salad. Summer menus, great wine, wonderful friends. I love that poignant moment at the end of one of my favorite books, Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather (a novella), when the man who once loved her see a childhood footprint Lucy has left behind in the cement. What could be more poignant than that? And we leave our footprints everywhere we go.

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