October 24, 2014

Embrace Your Past

I was looking in my archives this morning and found the first story I ever wrote 24 years ago.  The style is the same.

As a young pup I was left to explore and to make my way on my own a lot. My sisters were quite a handful for my mother to keep track of. They ranged from age 3 to age 17. They were toddlers and young women. All of the problems of youth wrapped up in one single parent family. My mother had been recently been left a widow at age 39 with 6 children.

At times I almost felt like a leaf in the wind. I was making lots of decisions alone without any adult supervision. Many of my choices were quite poor looking back in retrospect. I am  actually quite lucky to still be on this earth with some of the foolish choices I made. Not all of my choices were foolish. It was late fall and trout season was closed so I was limited in the things I could do.

When I got bored I thought of things that could make me money. I decided to search the path from the high school to the downtown area and look in the ditch along the path and pick up pop bottles.

In those days you could get .02 cents a bottle and usually one trip on this path gave me at least 50 pop bottles. It doesn't seem much now but a DOLLAR was a big deal to me back then.

I started on main street and worked towards the high school. The pop bottle spelunking was going quite well and I had to go home quickly and get a bag because there were just too many to carry. The ditch was a veritable gold mine this day and I was weighed down heavily with at least 60 pop bottles on the end of my journey.

I was already thinking about what I was going to spend my HUGE pay day on. I had the bag hung over my shoulder and was walking back to the grocery store to cash in my treasure and I saw two high school students dressed really oddly walking towards the High School.

Me being the curious type I asked what was up with the costumes. The two girls said they were going to be in a play called "Brigadoon" at the High School later that night and they were heading there to do their final dress rehearsal. They asked me if I wanted to come watch them practice their lines. I immediately said "NO"; I thought it wasn't manly enough for me to be interested in. I was also in hurry to cash in my bottles and get some candy or a new fishing lure. I met four more of the cast on the way to the store. They were also walking to the High School decked out in costume.  They really looked like they were getting into their parts. They were practicing their lines as they walked. I was on a mission so I went onward to the grocery store.

I cashed in my grand total of 70 pop bottles and asked the clerk at the store what the play was about. She gave me the short version of the play. It was about a magical place. It was about going back in time to a simpler way of life. The place only appeared once every 100 years. The name of the play was "Brigadoon." I checked out at the store. I bought no candy today, I bought a spinner to trout fish with in Spring. It was getting dark so I decided to go home for supper.

The house was full with activity and the table was already set. My sisters were helping my mom with supper and I was really dirty from all the ditch diving. My mom sent me to the bathroom to shower and put clean clothing on. I protested but I always listened to my mom. The rest of the family was already seated when I returned. I sat down and ate supper. The topic of the play at the High School came up and my mother gave me a few more details about the play. It sounded really interesting and I thought what the heck. My mom made me take a shower and put on clean clothes. Why waste it, I thought. I had a quarter left from ditch diving and that is what it would cost to get in the play. Off I went to the play.

The opening of the play had a couple hunters wandering in the mist and they seemed quite lost. The special effects in 1968 were amazing. They must have used some dry ice or something similar. The stage was engulfed in mist. I was 11 years old and I internalized much of what I saw and heard. These hunters became people in my life. One of them was my Dad and he was lost and couldn't find his way home from hunting in northern Wisconsin.

Though my Dad had died about a year ago while deer hunting, I still had this weird fantasy that he didn't really die and that he would appear at home one day. I was swept away by the story of play from the moment I saw the lost hunters. I watched the play on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was glad that it was dark in the gym because I was fighting back tears quite often. I loved that play and is my all time favorite. I didn't like the ending of the story, because you would have to wait another hundred years for Brigadoon to reappear.

The play touched me because it talked about simpler times and going back in to your past. I remember all of the things my Dad taught me about the outdoors.

I had my own little Brigadoon every time I went to the trout stream. It was where my Dad seemed the happiest and I could imagine him being with me on every outing.  Every wildflower he had identified for me and had shown me the magic of the outdoors. All of the smells and sounds of the outdoors take me back.

I can still see him smile when he showed me the Impatiens balsamina wildflower. My face must have showed astonishment and awe when he had me touch that orange odd looking flower . I can remember him making sure that I was really close so I could see the flower and the pod area exploded and rained down seeds on me.

I can not go by a Touch Me Not flower in the fall without getting close to it and to see my father's smile each time I touch those magical flowers.

Many children are bitter and lose their path when their father or mother die when they are young. I chose to embrace and remember all of the wonders of the outdoors and see my father in each outing in the wildflowers and every aspect of the outdoors in my own and very private Brigadoon.