nature, photography, friends, fun, travel, adventure, natural wonders, childhood, connections, road trip

Reliving your childhood…

I don’t know about you, but when I had a chance to have another adventure with a childhood friend I took it.  I had faith.  A camping trip, a chance to go back to favorite camping spots, only I got to go along this time.  I imagined a hike along a trail through the woods, a camping spot with scenic views, so I was lugging my camera bag, which I came to regret.  The reality was that I had to stick to using the iPhone for photos because what we wound up doing was blazing a path through the woods because there was no trail.  And we crossed the river several times, which required picking your way over and around the boulders that filled the river bed.  This part of the river didn’t always exist, a flood rerouted the river, downing trees and depositing these huge rocks.  And the campsite was pretty much gone.  Now that I know that we survived with only minor scrapes and bruises I can say that it was fun.  I could just imagine how much fun it would have been 60 years ago.  We would have scrambled over those rocks as if it were nothing.  I can see us now…7-16openroad7-16rock37-16rocks47-16rockw

'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, childhood, connections, family, finding my way, friends, home, loneliness, memories, photography

Where am I?

I see that there are some new people who have found this blog in the last couple of weeks, and I thought I ought to explain that the ‘nature coast’ in the title of the blog refers to the several counties along the Gulf coast of Florida just above Tampa Bay.  And, obviously, that’s not where I am at the moment.  This blog came about a year ago due to a coincidence of a class I took and a new camera I had just purchased, not really out of a need to share any profound thoughts or with an agenda of any kind.  I had settled into a comfortable routine in my widowhood, and felt almost smug as I spent my evenings alone at home doing whatever I wanted to do.  And I went on like that for quite a while, until I started needing people again.  My people, my ‘home’, New England, where I grew up and never failed to feel like I belonged when I visited.  People, old friends, family, grandchildren, I needed them all.  So I have thrown caution to the wind and left my little part-time job, and my snug little Florida house, and even the new friends I was just beginning to make, to take a road trip.  And I will stay until my heart, which had felt so empty, has filled back up.  Or until they all get sick of me…7-5church7-5farm7-5shack7-5shack27-5shack37-5townhall

adventure, childhood, friends, fun, life goes on, memories, moments, photography

Childhood…

Dog ownership comes in handy sometimes.  Like when your son comes home all excited and babbling, and the gist of it is there’s a ramp, and kids are riding their bikes off it and flying into the lake, and there are adults in charge, and can he ride his bike into the lake?  That he was asking permission instead of just doing it made me at least consider saying yes, but not having the least idea what he was talking about made me say no.  And he was off, and after a minute or two I was right behind him, walking the dog was my excuse, but the thought process was that I wasn’t so sure he’d be able to resist whatever was going on and I needed to see for myself.  It was a bike club, matching tee shirts and all, but why they were having the kids fly down the hill and sail through the air into the water, with an adult in the water to retrieve the bike, remains a mystery to this day.  Kudos to Mike, I don’t think he did it, probably because he didn’t have a matching tee shirt.

I thought of this on Monday because while we were enjoying lunch at this cute little river front restaurant, what we were seeing out the huge windows were four boys taking flying leaps off the bridge and into the river below.  Three at once got a running start and leaped together, and seemed suspended for a second with their arms and legs all going in different directions, a perfect photograph which, sadly, exists only in my head.  Another family was seated next to the window and watching, a mom, dad, and two little boys.  I wondered if those boys lived nearby, and how much time would elapse before they were jumping off that bridge.  I spend so much time reliving the past lately, enjoying my memories of the free-as-a-bird childhood that I treasure, and I don’t even have to ask myself if we would have been jumping off that bridge.  Of course we would have…5-28kayakmyHDR5-28Guy.jpg5-28myriverratsHDR5-28myriverratsHDR25-28myriverratsHDR35-28mural.jpg

adventure, childhood, connections, friends, kids, life, life goes on, memories, photography

Old friends…

There was, after all, a lot to lose. My most treasured memories stem from the neighborhood that I lived in from ages 4 to 9. It doesn’t look at all the same now, it seems to have shrunk. I know this because I drove past it this weekend. I was there to visit with my lifelong best friend, but also to spend a little time at ‘home’. But there was also the fact that a few months ago my sister contacted my constant partner in crime from back in those days. It was a fluke that she spotted him online, and once she messaged me that she had contacted him I was tempted to contact him, but also a little afraid. All my life, it seems, when I would roll out a favorite memory of mine, my mother would jump in and insist that I had it all wrong. I would see it perfectly clearly in my head, but be told that I was wrong. Then when my daughter got to be about 12 or so I found myself in the same situation, my memories being corrected by my daughter. Clearly my memory was suspect. To my mind, back then we were like the kids in the Charlie Brown cartoons, with parents who were vaguely in the background. We were free, to climb trees, and swing on a rope swing out over the river, and there was even a garage roof we used to jump off of, grabbing a young tree trunk that would bounce us up and down a few times before we let let go, and then we would climb back onto the roof to do it again. I don’t recall sneaking to do these things, it was just what we did. If our parents knew it seemed to be okay. Even when my shoe fell off as I rode the rope swing over the river, I only remember watching it float away, I don’t remember going home to confess.

So making contact ran the risk of ruining those memories I’ve hung onto for all these years. To be told I was wrong, or, worse, to be greeted with a blank stare. But from my sister I did know that he remembered us, that much was a plus. But still it took me a month of thinking about it to actually message him, and over the weekend we were finally together. It is at least 60 years later, and those years most definitely have taken their toll on us both, but that cherished connection was still there. I think all the kids who grew up in that neighborhood in the 50s remember it the exact same way. It was a perfect time to be a kid. I thought we ought to climb a tree, but instead we talked, and talked, and talked some more. He told my sister that I was the first girl he ever kissed. I don’t think we said goodbye 60 years ago, we were still so young. But we kissed goodby this time, that same sort of kiss as from 60 years ago. He laughed and said that now I’m the first and also the last girl he’s ever kissed. I still think that next time we meet we ought to climb a tree…4-9Nausetlight

adventure, childhood, coping, courage, finding my way, life, life goes on, loneliness, memories, photography, unintended consequences

Rolling back the clock…

I suppose there are endless ‘what if’ scenarios I could play out in my head, especially at 69 years old. Lots of water under the bridge, over the dam, forks in the road, and many more cliche phrases apply. But there is something about being alone at this stage of life that has me thinking, wondering, about the person I was ‘supposed’ to be. How did I spend so many years ‘under the influence’ so to speak? I was a spunky little kid. My cousin and I once decided to go for a walk, and set off, a 5 and a 4 year old, having an adventure. We were spotted by a woman who I think chatted with us as we passed her chain-link fenced yard. The next thing I knew there was a policeman on the scene, asking us who we were and where we were going. My cousin must have been much more polite than I was because she told the policeman everything he wanted to know. Not me though. I was mad. I wasn’t lost, and I certainly wasn’t finished having my adventure, so I wouldn’t tell him a thing. But since I lived upstairs from my cousin that was a bit of a moot point. I don’t remember the upshot, what my parents had to say about it, I only remember the woman, the fence, and how mad I was.

I just love that little kid that I was. But I have to wonder, when did I lose her? How did I let her go and never notice that I had done just that? That memory, and there are more from when I lived in that house and was that spunky kid, all date back to before I went to school. Is that when I started worrying about what other people thought, and doubting myself? By the time I hit high school I was quite sure that I didn’t measure up in any way, and spent most of my mental energy on trying to make sure that no one else knew just how out of it I was. I never expressed an opinion, practiced a go-with-the-flow attitude, got married young to hide from the bra-burning women’s libbers who seemed to be saying that I shouldn’t want a marriage and family, which is exactly what I told myself that I wanted, mostly because I thought of it as ‘safe’. Don’t misunderstand, I really was happy, found myself living all over the country and thought that was quite the thing. Enjoyed the heck out of raising my kids, and appreciated the accomplishment of raising them to be the people I’d hoped they’d be. And at work with Charley I had a position of authority that I enjoyed, but I also was aware that I hadn’t earned it as much as I had married into it. It wasn’t a bad life at all, so why am I so unsettled now?

I am an old lady who, now that I am alone for the first time since I was very young, finds myself relating more to the little kid that I was than to all the years in between. No one hijacked my life, I willingly participated. But now what? If you thought that I was going to wind this up with some sort of brilliant conclusion you’d be wrong. All I do know is that I have a vague notion of heading ‘home’ this summer, back to the people and places that I find myself thinking of so fondly. Back to where I was a spunky little kid with my whole life ahead of me…spunky.jpg