Tuesday, April 10, 2007

magic space

Two weekends ago Don and I drove up to northwest Michigan. For a while Sunday, we walked and drove around some old stomping grounds of mine.

For several years, my family spent two weeks a summer at this cottage at Crystal Lake, built by my great great uncle (my mom's great uncle). I was six years old the last summer we went there in 1963, the year my parents got their own cottage much closer to our home town.

I remember walking barefoot across the road to the Crystal Lake beach, and the heat of the blacktop scalding my feet. The sand cool on the other side. I think these are the same stones as the ones we left in 1963. I fell asleep one summer and got the burn of my life. I wonder if that was the source of my melanoma almost 30 years later?

Every day I would walk with some of my siblings a mile away from Crystal Lake to Lake Michigan.
~ ~ ~
We'd walk past the Gwen Frostic house, "Melody in F."
Climb up the little dune and cross over to the big lake beach.The smell of the fine, soft sand is identical today, and it brings all the memories back.

I don't understand how it happened, but this space, this sand, these stones, this house, these smells, this sun in these birch trees, got into my very flesh, mind and heart as a little one, and it's still here.


Ginnie said...

Oh, Ruth, that is so true. I just gasped when I opened up this post and saw all these memories. And you were soooo young to last be there. 1963 was when I graduated from high school, so you can well imagine how much I remember!

Thank you for writing about this. All of it.

Ruth said...

Ginnie, it would be interesting if we could get inside our heads as outsiders and see the memory images and compare the experiences of a 6-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl. Wow, that would be something. I just couldn't get over how the smell of the sand evoked so many memories! They say smell is the sense most closely associated with memory.

rachel said...

How beautiful, I would love to go there some day and see, hear, feel and smell what my aunts and uncles experienced as kids! I am not sure about the taste part- do they have any good ice cream up there?

Ruth said...

I don't remember ice cream at all, Rachel. I do remember my mother making Chef Boyardi (sp?) pizza though. We had to pull a trailer for the clothes and food, since 10 of us had to fit in the car. I have some great memories with your dad on that beach. We used to dig down in the water and sand and get the purest clay. Then we'd make little dishes for play.

Rauf said...

This looks like an ocean Ruth,
Half your lifetime is your first ten years, 5 to 10 actually, first five years we hardly remember. it is like a century.
Next ten year are a bit faster, and the rest of the years simply fly.

Yes the cottage is simply magic Ruth, looks like a wooden lodge i stayed in sikkim on my first visit, on the foot hills of Kanchanchanga range in the eastern Himalayas. i used to tell all my friends about my stay. three of my friends were attracted by my description and we went all the way to the other end of my country, to Pelling Sikkim only to find a huge concrete structure in its place. The chap remembered me because i had given him some tapes.

Sikkim was a kingdom before and it joined India in the sixties.

Keeping the cottage in the original condition is a massive effort Ruth. The owners have to fight the progressive ideas of the younger generation.

Ruth said...

rauf, that's a sad tale about Sikkim. Breaks my heart. Memories of good experiences are treasures, and when we find that the source of them has changed for the worse, it's painful.

What you wrote about keeping cottages maintained is what we are experiencing with our current cottage. We now have the next generation of our children helping with maintenance and costs, and it is cumbersome and difficult at times. But it's a privilege to have such a place. And we also have loads of fun.

The cottage in this post is still owned by my mother's cousin, I believe. The only change I saw in the house was the color: it was painted blue; used to be green. When I poked around and looked in windows, it looked just the same.

If you find this place magic, I think it is one more sign that you are my long lost brother. You said you wear Lee jeans, which my brother Bennett wore. I could write a book about the ways you remind me of him. Not to say that you are not unique, of course!

photowannabe said...

I love your trip down memory lane. Its funny how the smell of the air or the feel of sand or grass under our feet can bring such a rush of thoughts. All the pics. are great , but I especially like the lst one with the shadows, rocky shore and the water splash. Very nice capture.

Ruth said...

Photowannabe, thank you so much. I love that beach too. It's interesting how places become almost like a character in our psyche.

lesleyanne said...

i know what you mean about magic space. i completely feel it in some places. i've also been noticing the magic in objects. perhaps not as magical as certain spaces, but it's there nonetheless.

beautiful. i wish i could take you to the ocean while you're in NYC. someday soon.

love you! 4 hours!!!

thehealingroom said...

Wow, I had no idea how big Lake Michigan is.
It looks like the ocean.
How beautiful.

Ruth said...

Lesley, I want to kayak with you in NYC!

THR, I love Lake Michigan for that. I just miss smelling the salt water sometimes.