An envisioning . . 1990 and the evening coming on in the Tobago Cays.

Oh to be here.

West Indies for the winter and a treat it is. No snow and soap flakes in store windows scattered around pretend sleds. Sorrel punch for eggnog though that not a treat. Eggnog a bit tastier but not a tropical thing. Milk coming dried out of a tin from somewhere in the old empire but not like the kind they have in Ottawa.

But a balcony off the bedroom to look out at the sea and a beach to swim at whenever one’s son in law wants to take a drive. A walk once but the knees too bad and a cane needed.

Hard. School and able to do everything but not anymore. But a fine memory. Captain of the archery team at Wells and tournaments played with everyone. Almost getting the coach in the face when she walked the wrong way but not quite.

Hard just reaching for a drink and not spilling but not then. . . arrow pulled back, and nothing in the world but a bullseye to hit . . . too bad it ever ended but at least it happened . . . better than dreaming of a life filled with nothing . . .

Archery class, Elmira College, Elmira, New York. 1928-1930.
Archery class, Elmira College, Elmira, New York. 1928-1930. Image © Elimira College Archives. Fair use license. via

2000 . . Montevideo and the heat coming up as summer begins.

Oh to be here.

Uruguay and the house by the sea. Waves washing up and children that run out to meet them. Blue sea with a fishing boat going across with dolphins that arch against a bluer sky.

Christmas soon but Thanksgiving first. Well, not real Thanksgiving. No, a turkey and whatever else they can find that looks like pumpkin pie at the restaurant in town that the two American men from Berkeley own. Every American who can breathe around that table somewhere. A special holiday but even more special somehow in a place where almost no one keeps it.

California, back home, and every year with fathers cooking turkeys in the grills at the end of the driveways. Like a ribbon of houses, that had been. Subdivision that went on for miles, not like the ones they like in Uruguay that go round and round like a maze in ring after ring.

The same all those years and then not. Trip to England for a graduation present. Train trip all the way to New York and the biggest steamer in the harbor. Getting nervous halfway over, sobbing and wailing at the table two from the captain and ending up parked in the brig. Funny. That part not so good but the man in the other cell a treat. Someone from Uruguay that the British wanted, they said. But friends by London and married after.

Divorced soon after but that not to be thought of. No . . . the ship and sailing into the future . . . a crooked future but that one couldn’t know . . .

S.S. United States steamer. 1950's-1960's.
S.S. United States steamer. 1950’s-1960’s. Vintage postcard. via

An envisioning . . . 1980 and the house outside Laramie.

Oh to be here.

Wyoming on a clear afternoon with summer starting to settle in as the cattle low somewhere out in the pastures.

Warmth rising up through the earth and time to sit on the porch and quilt. Winter and its dreary snow gone. Hard. The cattle the same, but used to somewhere warmer. Texas and its dust much the same but never as frozen. Coats needed in winter but of a Wyoming fall variety and no need for swaddling in fur to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Some of it the same. Nearly as far to get to an Episcopal church as it did back then. Everyone else something else and closer but Mother from the city and wanting her own. Not wanting to settle for someone else’s prayers and hymnal just because it was closer.

Children and grandchildren and home at least to them. But not a real home. No, home where the heart is. Lost dolls that big and little brothers tossed into the bushes that were never found again. Cattle with long horns and houses with walls that are so thick that you can’t even bang on one side while someone listens from the other.

Albums found and pictures lost but one in the very back of the cookbook shelf where no one else peeks.

Grandfather’s ranch and the summer before seventh grade when those fat corkscrew curls were so big. Nights spent with hair wrapped around what felt like entire sections of the newspaper but pretty in the morning.

A memory . . .if only  . . . all afternoon to take the wagon out  . . . no one to make anyone come back and someone else to make the dinner . . .bliss. . . too bad it ever had to end . . .

Parker County, Texas, USA. ca. 1905.
Parker County, Texas, USA. ca. 1905. Vintage photograph. via

An envisioning . . . 2010 and a lingering afternoon in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Oh to be here.

Mountains that grow and mountains that shrink the further away you get. Oil pumping away by the side of every road in things that look like ancient dinosaurs come back to earth but spitting black goo instead of grass or whatever it was that they ate.

Family all around and a barbeque later once evening starts to settle in. Steaks, potato salad, and corn. All right but dreadfully unseasoned up.

The problem. Grow up somewhere else, and something never fits. Missouri. Not that many states away but Mother with New Orleans blood and seasoning everything up. But a Western fellow coming along at that office after college and date after date until the ring turned up.

All of that all right but the other still missed. Land flat as a pancake until something starts rising up. Buttes that rise straight up into the sky like multi-colored birthday cake candles, one side melted and the other not.

Fun but still. An album brought out in the trousseau trunks stuffed into every room and a special tiny one in the front pocket of every pocketbook. Heavy to carry but not where anyone ever looks. A portable home whenever life gets too hard and you need to go back.

But a special one for a new pocketbook that had hidden itself away. Grandfather’s farm that time Mother got so sick and everyone had to stay.

That part hard but the rest fun. Fences to perch on and horses to ride. Hills to ride through and creeks that never ran dry in summer.  . . another few years and no water at all . . . but not then . . . no . . . .water so cold it made your forehead hurt and all you wanted . . .

Girl sitting on a fence, Wentzville, Missouri. Undated.
Girl sitting on a fence, Wentzville, Missouri, USA. Early 20th c. Vintage Photograph. via Facebook.

An envisioning . . . 2017 and a flat up on the twentieth floor somewhere in London.

Oh to be here.

In the city for a few weeks and a niece that just had twins. Surgeon she is and and high up enough to be able to pay enough rent to see almost all the way to the sea. Husband that paints things but no matter.

But London. The main thing, that and baby feeding and holding. A long time ago but remembered. Mini skirts that looked ancient but all that having come back. The clothing shops just as chic and the prices just as high.  But fun. Nothing like that in the village and shopping from the computer not nearly as much fun as real shopping.

The flat totally different from the one right after university. All beat up that one had been with a mattress on the floor to sleep on and only a table with two chairs in the kitchen. Ancient sofa and cinder block and plank bookcases in the sitting room.

But a joy. A first apartment and boyfriend after boyfriend to share it with.

Babies napping and a little time to explore. Bus to the old neighborhood and a used everything shop still on the corner. A wonder. Everything else different but not it.

Prints and old postcards to sort through and a memory thing at the bottom. Exhibit on the South Bank and that building that looked like a birthday cake with the candles all lit. . . going back and back just to visit it and it’s frosting like décor . . . boyfriend liking the other girl at work better but not then . . .happy memory instead of a bad and that a treat.

Exhibition hall designed to look like a giant birthday cake for an exhibition on the South Bank of London that celebrated  95 years of the London County Council. 1984.
Exhibition hall designed to look like a giant birthday cake for an exhibition on the South Bank of London that celebrated 95 years of the London County Council. 1984. Postcard. Publisher not known. via

An envisioning . . . 1962 and Sunday afternoon in the big house in Davenport.

Oh to be here.

Iowa and fall inching its way towards winter. Pillars of smoke reaching into the sky from every house as father after father builds a leaf bonfire in the driveway for his children to dance around while the wives stay inside warming up cider.

Very pretty but too cold. Well not too cold if you grew up in Canada but a childhood spent in Alabama, not Ontario. Grandchildren with warm boots and coats but no idea about how to sneak away from nannies while visiting grandparents out in the country and standing still while the biggest boy throws a rock into the pond out where the next yard ends to make the water moccasins swim away.

Loving fried chicken and green tomatoes fried in bacon grease but a strange accent.

Loved just the same but if only. Father losing his job and having to go where the cousins with the bicycle factory could help.

But the memories still there. Albums carted out on the train and from house to house ever since in who knew how many moving vans. The pictures looked at a million times but a new one falling out of the back. Who knows why but a time travel or at least a thinking.

The Pluto bandstand in the big park in Montgomery where the grownups went on weekends.

No children but for the one time. All the staff sick with something but both parents wanting to hear the band anyway . . . The music, a cup of warmed cider and a honey biscuit . . . Gone for Iowa the next year but that no one knew . . . A good thing . . .all those people come and gone like moths fleeing a blown out flame on the back porch and never seen again.

Pluto bandstand, Louisville, Kentucky.
Pluto bandstand, Louisville, Kentucky. Vintage postcard. via

An envisioning . . . 1960 and a summer afternoon just getting started in Braslaw.

Oh to be here.

The old house in Belarus and a treat just having arrived. Invasions and wars that just keep coming along like the units that march in the May Day parade in Moscow. One done and thinking you can go but another something that ties up all the trains only a hop, skip, and jump behind.

But all worth it. Grandmother’s house where Mother was a little girl before the big war that reshuffled everything. Trains to take to whatever big city struck Grandfather’s fancy and summer vacations on beaches everywhere in Europe that they had sand. Finland, France, and Dubrovnik, wherever anyone wanted to go. Coins flipped every spring. Maps pulled out with passports stuck full of stamps by the time anyone was big enough to go to school.

Different after that and Vienna near impossible let alone Paris. But all right. Someone new for a tsar and the old tsar gone.

All right but a smaller place and the house nearly cut off what with everyone being someplace else.

An hour looking through the old chest in the hidden place behind the night nursery closet and another in the hiding place in the attic. Funny. People having run through like a river and that over and over again, but the old things not found. Must not have been looking for them.

But a treat at the bottom of the second chest. Mother when she was little that winter in Odessa. A coat with swansdown and a big bow on her head from what must have been the finest children’s dressmaker.

Happy and bundled up with love. . . Life and a husband that goes from place to place and never sticks. . . a home that stays in place but not for much longer . . but a mother to love you and that’s all you ever need.

Studio portrait. 1908.
Studio portrait. 1908. Vintage photograph. via and