Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’
When I saw the house, it was enchantment at first sight. I had tears.
In Plano, Illinois, floating in a meadow along the Fox River, stands The Farnsworth. I visited on a bright spring day, the sunlight so warmly shining through the trees into this almost completely transparent house. Its elegant mathematical minimalism totally had me. And then I saw the Tugendhat chairs! And those 1/4 inch polished glass windows that almost completely erase the barrier between interior and exterior! The Farnsworth is at once empty and full, and floating in comforting green.
A favorite detail: the only circles in the grid are the discreet electrical outlets in the floor. Mies wanted only lamps, tall and short, no over-head lighting. Man after my own heart.
You’re going to tell me this photo is so banal and I’m going to tell you how much I love it.
You’re going to tell me it’s an ordinary country road and I’m going to tell you it’s the road between my parents’ houses, the route I’ve determined is the fastest, with the least traffic and the most open space.
You’re going to say it’s in the middle of nowhere and I’m going to say it’s a place I feel love.
You might know the stress of traveling between two pieces of your family, the guilt over not being there, the balance in your mind, the simultaneous leaving someone behind while joining someone else, looking behind you and in front of you and wanting to go in both directions at once.
No one can know how many times I’ve travelled this ordinary road, or how personal is the shape of that tree, how loved is this view over cornfields that make me feel so strongly a sense of place.
But I tell you, from a person who think she was born with one foot in melancholy, I am happy driving on this piece of road, in silence with the windows down.
She has raised 13 children, who gave her 30 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren with at least two on the horizon for 2011. There is a lot of love directed her way. She is the matriarch and hub of the clan. One night, while sharing concerns she told me, “living is not for sissies.”
From my perspective, she has always made it look easy. She worries much, but I come away from a conversation with her feeling reassured, grounded, loved.
Every time I come home she’s the hardest person to leave.
They have probably encountered each other only a handful of times, but Anna was drawn to Grandma without either of them saying a word.
Oh honey, don’t worry. No one is going to hang you on the wall.
The day I arrived at my parents’ house, my step-Dad had killed a deer with a bow and arrow. It was also the day I met the new dog. Yeah, that is a dog on my mother’s shoulder. I was skeptical about the idea of buying such a pet, but I dare anyone to meet her and not love her.
I woke up with a text message from Dad saying, “Are you awake? Look at the trees.”
It’s a treat being home, and seeing the sun rising at the same time as my family. In a time zone seven hours ahead, this text wouldn’t make sense, it wouldn’t happen. Of course I’m awake, it’s 2pm!
So I piled on clothes, kissed the dog goodbye and headed out. If she had more meat on her bones she could’ve come with me but her little bird legs can’t handle the cold. She would have to ride inside my coat and she’d probably sneeze all over my camera.
Back inside, I feel as frosted as those branches.
But my hands will soon be around a big warm mug of honey-sweetened coffee.
Hey Dad, look at the trees!
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
Wise words from a Navy dad.
“Did you see the sunrise this morning?” I asked my dad yesterday. “It looked like the horizon was on fire.”
“Yes, we’re going to have some precipitation tonight.”
Indeed we did. Four inches.
My timing for visiting the old neighborhood was perfect,
except that I had forgotten my gloves.
Every time I’m alone in a car in this part of the world – it happens about once a year – I drive past my childhood home.
In Immortality, Kundera says, “memory does not make films, it makes photographs.” I think it makes something more like erratic stop-motion. This yearly drive-by puts me inside those old stills, to feel them with all five or more senses. Series of images flash in my mind, layers of them, which resemble the scene in front of me, which happened right in front of me, yet feel so very far. Years of change are evident in the developing wrinkle in my forehead and the pine tree I remember as a shrub.
I stood with freezing fingertips at the edge of the pond, watching the sun rise on my old bedroom window, not really sure what I was doing there. Curiosity. My answer for everything lately. I’ll put myself there and see what happens. I want to look at everything, and some things I want to look at today, tomorrow, next week and next year.
I felt the biting cold air and listened. I do not remember ever hearing the hum of a distant highway. My childhood was surrounded by farms, not four lanes and mini malls.
Spending summer evenings with Hannah.
Her last few weeks before first grade…
From a front yard in Illinois.
my entire childhood,
i looked out from my bedroom window
at this pond,
with the black roof,
and the red door.
but they have not moved.