Wednesday, April 20, 2011


...the Bendix and the back door... see the design in my wallpaper? You can see also just what time it was, Honey. Even the second hand is straight up...see that little thing hanging on the wall. That is for dimes. When it gets full, I buy Defense Stamps. Does it look natural, Honey?

(sentiments written on the back of an old photograph)

When You Find It...

Among the photos that I pulled from the sleeves of the albums in that East Village antique shop is the one that appears above in my blog header. When I turned over its page the breath caught in my throat. This photograph carries an essence of deja vu that I have been here before. The eeriness of this snapshot is not so much its familiarity, but that I will return to this place again. That old woman rounding the corner is me.

I study this photo and I feel such contentment. This is my life. I have finally found my place. My old friends are scattered along the streets of this little town and down long gravel lanes out in the countryside. I am surrounded by my gardens where I hill my potatoes and harvest greens for my evening meal. When the flowers are in bloom, I fill my home with colorful bouquets that scent the air and remind me every day of the beauty in my world. I relish the work that pulls me into the gardens daily and leaves my body spent when I crawl into bed every night.

Another look at this old photo tells me that I have been here for a very long time. The gardens testify to that. I seem to remember a tall fence once, but now it is gone...and this very spot was once shaded by a tree. Phlox, dahlias, and peonies thrive in this now-sunny corner of the garden. I also remember the entire property covered with lawn, but only remnant strips of grass remain. Like the one in the photo, these narrow paths run along the garden beds that now blanket this earth.

I hold my future in my hands in this old B&W photograph. I have to wonder when my present life will intersect with this future one and I find myself rounding that corner.

The Farmer Takes a Wife

I was recently in Des Moines' East Village doing research at the State Historical Library. When I finished for the day, I tromped over to my favorite antique shop Found Things and happened upon a cupboard of photograph albums full of old B&W snapshots. I pulled out several marked 'rural' and carried them over to a quiet corner where I could leisurely flip through them. I love images of old couples and I found a gold mine. Many of these photos are staged in front of the barn which relates to the importance of these old buildings on the family farm back in the day.

My favorite is the one I chose for this post....check out his pants and braces...and her shoes. I always wonder about the story behind the photograph. There is corn growing at his feet; he is leaning on some sort of implement to go after the weeds. Is this their garden, or are they standing on the edge of a larger field? Who was snapping the picture? What was happening on this day that prompted someone with a camera to take a photo of this couple? They look happy, even least at this moment in time. They are both wearing rings on the third finger of the left hand, so I am assuming they are a couple together. They are leaning in a it for the photo, or because that is what a couple does after years of living together?

His shirt pocket reveals what appears to be a writing instrument. Does he make "to do" lists as he works around the farm? When he is chasing those weeds, does he compose love poems in his head and then stop to lean on that hoe while he writes them down? Will he place these written words around their home where he knows his wife will discover them?

Maybe these love sonnets are not written for his wife, but for a long-lost love....someone who captured his heart years ago. He dreams of someday when he scribbles his thoughts, but he knows deep in his heart that the choice he made for this life was based on a woman who was right for him. This woman by his side in the photograph was the one who made him a better man. She was the one who made him believe in honesty and commitment and marriage. This woman by his side was his better choice. For better or for worse.