For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 17 July 2009

Valedictory


The Ur-Walk is done. Except that it's never really finished. All past walks contain traces of it; all future walks will be haunted by it.

I return to my father's house. It's getting late in the day. Eastwards the blue sky's dulling over. Banks of low, grey cloud layer themselves above gently sloping fields of corn. I look out over my father's garden, his hortus conclusus, at the worked land beyond. I pray: may my heart be as open as the open fields around me, and my mind as unfenced and uncluttered as these wide, green, open spaces.

I mooch disconsolately about the house. Much of the furniture's now been sold, the pictures auctioned, the junk taken to the tip. I'd made some interesting finds. Such as a bayonet. And a WWII army helmet, which I think belonged to my mum (she was in the 'searchlights' during the War). A dummy wooden rifle used by the Home Guard (this must have been my dad's - born with a 'club foot', he was denied active service). A rather fine diamond-patterned glass cabinet full of heirlooms, knick knacks and commemorative jugs. Some Carlton Ware. A Royal Worcester plate. But most of the stuff was of sentimental rather than any monetary or aesthetic value. Like the vinyl 'single' records I must have bought in my early teens, and which had been faithfully kept by my father all this time in his 1960's teak 'radiogram': Durham Town by Roger Whittaker, Wichita Lineman by Glenn Campbell and Sugar, Sugar by the Archies. How embarrassing!

My father had hung on to everything, perhaps hoping he'd find a use for it one day. A collection of broken old radios, dating back decades (complete with their original boxes and instruction booklets). An unfixable fridge and freezer. A rusty filing cabinet, locked and keyless. Countless tins of nails and screws, nuts and bolts. Spare parts for long-redundant washing machines and vacuum cleaners. A felted card table, pocked and threadbare, with gammy legs. Several stained and lumpy mattresses. An array of worn-out electric razors, all neatly cased. A chamber pot. False teeth...

To be continued...

7 comments:

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Oh, Lord…how achingly familiar—the going through and sorting out of the household goods. All the little bits and pieces of what was once their life, and your life. Material goods once imbued with the glorious magic of everyday living, in use, contributing, an integral part of the family—now reduced to clutter on shelves, things in a bureau drawer, being stuffed in a box and relegated to a dusty corner of the attic or basement.

How can it have once seemed so precious? So defining of you and your family?

I love your prayer…"may my heart be as open as the open fields around me, and my mind as unfenced and uncluttered as these wide, green, open spaces."

And may the goodness and strength, the lessons and love you knew here sustain you all the days of your life, lighting your path, guiding your steps, informing your spirit.

Just a fine, fine post…

The Solitary Walker said...

Thank you so much for that appreciative and appreciated comment, Grizzled. It's a very reflective, retrospective time for me at the moment.

jay said...

So sad to be sorting through property. But don't dismiss the vinyl too easily. Some of the early stuff is worth a lot of money! Check it out first. ;)

The Solitary Walker said...

Jay - hey, too late..! But I do have a complete set of every Bob Dylan album on vinyl I'm hanging on to... ;)

gleaner said...

Such a wonderful list of things to glean through! - a gleaners joy.
I must say, I hated going through the same "faithfully kept" stuff, it was painful to know so much value was given to these items when today we just dispose of everything so carelessly, never considering re-use and creative alternatives. I look back and wish I had kept much of the junk as I have discovered I now also value unwanted junk...but it was too hard to think forward when all these things were pulling me back to the past.

Hmmm, I was just reading an article about recycling fridges and freezers into the garden for making composting worm farms. And mattresses are great to rip apart and put the wire in the garden to deter vermin and the fabric as weed block. Now I know this last bit is irrelevant ramblings...

What a treasure to have the Dylan records, now that would be worth alot.

Grace said...

I, too, like your prayer, …"may my heart be as open as the open fields around me, and my mind as unfenced and uncluttered as these wide, green, open spaces." I find the spontaneous prayers are often the most deeply felt.

backpack45 said...

My mother, who is now 98, has moved a couple of times since my dad passed away more than 20 years ago, so she has already discarded a lot of stuff. But I know the time will come that I will have to make those tough decisions about what to save, what not to save of what remains.

I have birthday cards from when I was 4 years old and other "memorabilia" (all of which fits in about 3 boxes so not a huge issue). In contrast, my son tosses the birthday cards my grandchildren receive into the trash before we're out the door. Which way is best?