All Who Enter Here [writing at Art House America this week]

 My cousin Megan shared this gorgeous photo with me. It's a perfect view of the incorrigibly named, Stump Pond.

My cousin Megan shared this gorgeous photo with me. It's a perfect view of the incorrigibly named, Stump Pond.


We have walked so many times, my boy,
over these fields given up
to thicket, have thought
and spoken of their possibilities,
theirs and ours, ours and theirs the same,
so many times, that now when I walk here
alone, the thought of you goes with me;
my mind reaches toward yours
across the distance and through time.

— Wendell Berry, from Sabbaths, part II

The date I’m writing this is July 2007. My husband and I have brought our four children to vacation under the rooftop of a tiny, red-shingled cabin on the curve of a sparkling spot of water named, incorrigibly, Stump Pond. Today, my husband and I are taking the long woodsy walk up Forshee Road, across the street from the family land. Midsummer wildflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed Susan, purpled chicory, and dried Timothy grass wind the stony roadway, reminding me of the countless grubby bouquets we’d shoved in plastic cups on Grandma’s kitchen table. 

As we hike, we get an occasional glimpse of the blue sky and white clouds through the leafy canopy, inviting us to keep trudging upward to the top where we’ll stop long enough to witness again the panoramic view of fields full of goldenrod and blackberry bushes, and to revisit a hallowed ancient tree that stands at the highest point on the hill overlooking a neighboring lake. This is the tree that propped me up after this same walk during so many angst-ridden adolescent summers, the tree that can be seen from almost any spot walking around the lake below, the tree that serves as a path-marker fingering the country sky.

When I was younger I came to this plot of land for years—almost 25 in a row—roaming the grassy shoreline, rowing around lily pads and tree stumps poking through the pond water, and running sweaty laps up and down Forshee Road. As an adolescent, I bloomed in the sensual soil of this place. I thrived during weeks like this one now, when I was the child vacationing here with my parents, brothers, and sisters. Year by year, we formed a kind of family liturgy, a joyful way of being together that transcended the reality of the modest little cabin and weedy pond. The liturgy expanded to jubilation during picnics with relatives, commemorating patriotic holidays or celebrating the birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries of three generations underneath Grandpa’s homemade picnic pavilion, eating Grandma’s macaroni and potato salads. 

I say almost 25 years because, late in my teen years, the cottage as a haven for relatives crumbled under the weight of a family the whole story at Art House America blog

 photo credit: Megan Hill Glennon (my wonderful cousin)

photo credit: Megan Hill Glennon (my wonderful cousin)


Previous posts inspired by the beloved cottage:

2014 - gorgeous autumn at Stump Pond courtesy of another wonderful cousin, Kelcy

2011 - a teary farewell weekend at the cottage before we moved to Austin, photo credit this time to my sister-in-law Young-Mee. And here's my son Andrew's post on that weekend, which includes a heart-wrenching photo of all of us trying to smile through our tears: Saying good-bye.

2010 - A place for rest [Imperfect Prose]

And since I missed the chance to post photos of my kids when they were babies because, well, I barely even knew what email was back then, I'll take this chance to post a photo of my daughter (approx. 4 mos.) enjoying the shade during our family vacation at the cottage.

 Summer 1996, Kendra 

Summer 1996, Kendra 

What places hold family memories - good or painful - for you?