7/15/2012

Childhood Memories

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Have you ever noticed how some things just seem to stick with you? Memories pulled into the forefront of your mind merely by a single look, the lightest touch, or the faintest sound? The human mind is an odd thing. The slightest similarity to an event that could have happened ages ago could trigger entire stories of vivid images to fly through your mind in astounding detail.

We fill the places in which we live with objects. Each object has a memory tied to it, as though a motion picture is encased in the very atoms it is made of. The half open book lying spine up on your dresser, pulling your mind back to a wondrous world of fantasy and make-believe, without needing to be opened. The pair of mittens on a shelf, knitted by your grandmother, may bring back memories of nights spent huddled around a fireplace. Music sliding out of the radio, grandmother sitting in her old rocker, adding the soft click-clacking of her knitting needles to the cacophony of music, the rain pelting the window and sliding down the sidings of the house, and the crackling of the fire.

As I look around my room, I am assaulted by a veritable swarm of memories. Some joyous, some saddening. And some that recall that innocent mindset that seems inherent in children. It is a memory of the latter sense that strikes me when I look at my old dresser. My great grandfather built it as a wedding present to my great grandmother, and it emanates a warm feeling of timelessness. And a memory of long ago…

The wind blew softly through the fields of tall, country grass surrounding my grandmother’s farmhouse, giving a visual accompaniment to the faint chattering of the grasshoppers that dwell there. Today was the day. It had to be. My brothers and I had planned this for the entire week we had been down here, smothering in the unbearable heat from the sun over the flat Saskatchewan plain. The oldest of us, Shawn, had thought it all up. We would take a day or two living in the forest that lay on my grandmother’s land. It was a brilliant idea! Lipstick disappeared from the parent’s dressing room, knives and twine from the garden shed. Our sleeping bags were secured tightly under our arms, along with some old empty margarine containers. With our provisions gathered so, the three of us, intrepid adventurers indeed for a handful of children, with the oldest no older than ten years old, the youngest only seven, set out on our bold journey.

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At last! We parted the thick leaves of an overhanging tree, and plodded on through into the dim forest. Lipstick came out, and sloppy lines were scrawled over our cheekbones and foreheads, filling us with the imagined glory of a party of barbarians, traversing new land and claiming it in the name of the Viking Horde. Stout sticks served us as staves, both to aid in covering ground in the imagined treacherous terrain, and to avail ourselves against any enemy threats from cultures native to this strange, unknown land. Pieces of bark tied around our chests with twine served as wondrous armour, surely impenetrable by any weapon from any foe we may come across.

And so commenced our day of exploration and discovery. Just outside the forest of this fearfully new land was a great vast garden, with sweet peas and raspberries growing in plentiful bounty. The natives surely were fools for leaving such a treasure unguarded, and it fell victim to Viking raids. The victors slid back into the woods with margarine containers stuffed to bursting with the harvest of kings, and faces stained red with the juice of raspberries, adding to the horrific visage accomplished by the savage lipstick face paint.

Many great sights came to the eyes of our intrepid heroes. Abandoned stashes of tin cans from ages past, horse tack with iron buckles and rotting leather thongs. And a treasure surely left by some great scurvy pirate captain, forgotten by all and lost in the sands of time; an old wrought iron bed frame. Rust clung to the upright posts of the frame, and spider webs clung to the corners. A tree had begun to grow through the center of the bed. Truly, great providence had brought us to this place, which would become our fort for the remainder of our stay. Unrolled sleeping bags served as a roof over our heads, supported by the four posters which seemed to climb halfway to the heavens, to the eyes of a young child.

But by the time this great construction was completed by our valiant explorers, the raspberry stores had run out, and the sweet peas had been lost in the long trek to the fort. Shamed, with their bellies aching, the Viking horde surrendered to the might of the land, and plodded back out of the forest. Stout sticks were cast to the ground, perhaps to be found by some other adventurers in years to come. The hose coiled by the side of the house washed off the grime of their journey, and the savage markings on their face. Hands combed cobwebs from their hair, and twigs from their clothes. Our heroes were defeated, and, walking into the house with a downcast expression, the day came to an end.

And so you can see, that an object can hold an entire story, sometimes having nothing to do with the object in question. And childhood illusions of grandeur can awaken the imagination to such extents, as to bewilder adult spectators.



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