Seasons of My Childhood:The Move (Prose)
by Erin Elizabeth Kelly-Moen
Saturday, October 26, 2002
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The birth of six in times of chic, skirted suits and matching hats, filled the family house in the beauty of moist Oregonís winter coolness , ocean-snug air moves laborously across the sloping land, weight wrung from land-hugging clouds by lofty, proud pines and firs in high mountain forests, then swiftly escaping, sponge-dry and lilting, from the unreachable acme of mysterious volcanic peaks. Mildness of Pacific seasons, softly spreads, and ebbs.
Seaside trip with lesson of tides learned on a rock, with the roars of surging, seething water surrounding a small childís panicked world. Large dunes to set siege to and scale, seeing only the uniformed legions of sandís armies, and sandís following families, endlessly marching, shifting and migrating away when the fortís lip is breached, or riding a sail of air, off to start a new campaign in uncharted lands, rasping out a victory song of future granular utopias.
Paternal family-rich houses and fruiting orchards of autumnal bounty. Two huge cherry trees, the oneís true course a crutch to itís leaning companion, an easy flightless path to the birdís regal realm, to the thrilling height of vertigo and power. With the shrill, stagnant tang of swamp beyond, froglings with tails and fierce-eyed insect-dragons, sludgy cool mud, pawprinted, bird-probed and salamander-tracked. Home-made rafts sinking under the weight of childrenís screaming laughter.
Aunts, cousins, grandparents, kin, all in harmony with the growth of close ties and happenings of holidays, of first wetted snows, thick and heavy, of birthdays celebrated, of differences seen in orchard treeís flower-bound branches in spring. Summer night games, headlightís flaring touch on statue-children frozen spastically on lawns. With freight trains lonely calls heard from their spiked, railed road, down at the end of the street. The sounds of familiarity, home, soon to be a memory to a young family of misplaced starts and constant moves and hurried stops.
New beginnings beckon, the laden station wagon heads back, towards the beginnings of the American exodus, traveling into a cultural warp, giant, snow-capped dizziness of mountains crossed with screams of fright, yells of delight, the winding road of change ever-streaming into the future. Two days of plains, six children lie in ennui, comic books strewn, weary and cramped, crankiness abounds. Finally comes the day of the stupendously innocuous arrival, the star-glazed, ice-rimmed Wisconsin night starting the rest of our childhood perceptions, the maternal heart and home and hearth.
The strange, stark newness, children frozen by the loss of the other home, coldness of winter, people unknown but pieces of us, mill owners and motherís kin, well-settled into the city of our relocation. Our new home, double-balconied and basemented, built by grandparents unknown, themselves escaping the harsh season, Arizona-bound, helping with matters of living and life for eight newcomers, a godsend, a plan, a sacrifice to youthful hope and future dreams. The meetings and greetings, defining the hierarchy of the ladder, bringing acceptance and welcome, the magic of us fitting into the whole.
Erin E. Moen