Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Enchanted Evening Along the Santa Fe Trail


One of my favorite poets is Naomi Shihab Nye. There's something gentle and kind about her writing and it comes through in every word. When I read her poem, "Full Day," which you'll find below, I was reminded of my own small box of treasures filled with memories gathered many years ago. My mother bought it for me for my twelfth birthday.

We had been out shopping together, perhaps for my birthday present but I'm not certain, when we stopped in a store very near to where I am now living. While there, I spotted a beautiful, black lacquer music box with a Japanese design and doors inside to hold jewelry, should I ever have any. I stared at it, turned the mechanism underneath, opened it so I could listen to its tune, "Some Enchanted Evening," then glanced at my mother a time or two to let her quietly know I had found something absolutely perfect. Did I think she'd actually buy it?  It seemed far-fetched from where I stood.

But, a few minutes later she did just that. I felt like the richest girl alive when we left that store. I can remember sitting in the car on the way home with the music box in my lap, unable to believe it was actually mine.

It's a tad travel worn now, but it still contains some treasures from earlier times. The mechanism that played the music as well as the inner hinges broke a long time ago so I haven't been able to listen to its tune for over twenty years. Except for this ...

I was getting ready to move from Santa Fe back to Minnesota, carefully carrying it from the house out to the garage where I planned to pack it in a box filled with newspaper before its return home. I held it close in both hands, as you do when you're carrying a box of treasure. As I stepped through the door into the garage the music started playing. I stood in disbelief and quietly waited as it played, "Some Enchanted Evening," all the way through, with the lid closed. And then it ended. Though I tried several times it never played again.  That is, until today. The deeply meaningful reason I received this message today shall remain my private understanding. But I'd like to share the poem with you that brought forth this memory.


"Full Day"

The pilot on the plane says:
In one minute and fifty seconds
we're going as far
as the covered wagon went
in a full day.
We look down
on clouds,
mountains of froth and foam.
We eat a neat
and subdivided lunch.
How was it for the people in
the covered wagon?
They bumped and jostled.
Their wheels broke.
Their biscuits were tough.
They got hot and cold and old.
Their shirts tore on the branches
they passed.
But they saw the pebbles
and the long grass
and the sweet shine of evening
settling on the fields.
They knew the ruts and the rocks.
They threw their furniture out
to make the wagons lighter.
They carried their treasures
in a crooked box.


~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from Come with Me



Among the treasures in my own "crooked box" is a small amber hair comb that belonged to my mother, long before she became my mother, as well as an amber beaded necklace from her youth.








Images:
The music box.
My mother, at the age of 16. She passed on in the year 2000.

50 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story about how special a Mom can be Teresa! I wish I had those kind of memories and feelings about my Mom but it was even hard for me to pick out a card today. Most of them had words that I don't feel, words that I can't even imagine saying to my Mom. She feels like such a stranger to me. She is like a neighbor or something that you care for but you don't have that deep abiding love for. How lucky you were to have your Mom to bring up memories like this for you. I am envious, especially on this day that we celebrate mothers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had ups and downs with my own, but she was kind and she worked hard at making life good for her family. She and I had a lovely connection. Somehow, we understood each other. I hope you find a sense of peace today.

      Delete
  2. Very nice. I love inside memories.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. I'm fortunate to have them. Have a beauty of a day!

      Delete
  4. Maybe you can't know the evening is enchanted until the song plays. Or, maybe you sing the song yourself to remind you that it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, but spring around here is pretty enchanting.:)

      Delete
  5. What a wonderful story, Teresa. I cried when I saw you in my mind's eye holding that precious music box and listening to it play. So beautifully written and inspiring. Your mother will always be your mother, no matter where in the universe she resides. That's what I tell myself, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Jan. Thanks for your kind words. I hope you have a very peaceful day.

      Delete
  6. "We eat a neat
    and subdivided lunch."
    I'm old enough to remember those good ol' airline days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The poem was originally published in 2000. Those lines caught me, too. Now, you're lucky if you get a bag of peanuts.

      Delete
  7. Some very lovely thoughts. I had a box , it was fun to look what I had saved over the years.Your best treasure was getting this box and sharing your experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is fun to see what we've saved and the memories they bring up, but, yes, that box is the real treasure. Thanks, Steve.

      Delete
  8. We hear the tune when we most need it..

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a beautiful post. At a conference session on creativity about 20 years ago, someone had us close our eyes, create a box, and place something precious inside it. He said we should bring it out for inspiration. Guess I didn't do that, because I now can't remember what it was. But I'm going to make a new one to remember this time in my life. Thanks for this post, which suggested that to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Nancy. I'm happy that it brought the suggestion forward for you. I hope you've had a wonderful Mother's Day.

      Delete
  10. Your treasure box is beautiful. I remember the song, "Some Enchanted Evening" and it certainly lends itself to a sweet memory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some songs do that, don't they?

      Happy Mother's Day, Janice!

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful memory, and you are doubly blessed to have such a wonderful song (now firmly lodged in the forefront of my mental radio, thank you very much) associated with it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh such a lovely poem Teresa, and such a lovely lovely post today!! How totally magical that your musical-box played even with the lid closed to bring back those gentle memories of your mother. She was so beautiful and left you with such 'enchanted memories'.

    Hugs dear Teresa,
    x Jane x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She certainly did, Jane, and I'm so grateful and blessed for it. Thank you for your loving response.I trust all is well in your little corner of the world.

      Hugs to you,
      Teresa

      Delete
  13. Quite a wonderful story. You had a terrific Mom; one who evidently loved you a lot. I like that the box played this song at an unexpected time. We had an old Dresden China clock that was my grandmothers. I sent it to my sister because I knew she would love to have it. The hour chime had not worked in decades. One night it rang twelve times. The very same night my grandmother died some 500 miles away!

    I loved this poem, by the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love how the universe works. Thank you so much for telling me the story associated with your family clock, and for the kind and supportive words. Always appreciated.

      Delete
    2. I have the feeling that the universe has never changed. We humans just need to understand that it holds love, promise, and a consistency that is foreign to our behaviors. Of course, that's just my funny way of looking at the big picture

      Delete
    3. Bill, I agree with you completely, and when we align ourselves with it, our thoughts and actions, "our behaviors," we see and experience it more fully, and more consistently. And I always know when I have because there's instant feedback - this feeling in the center of my being, my inner compass tells me so. :)

      Delete
  14. A wonderful and heartwarming story, Teresa.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Isn't it remarkable how a gift can keep on giving, at different times and in different places of our lives, as this treasure box does for you?

    What a lovely photo of your mom, Teresa; with the dog at her lap, the trees behind her, her eyes looking forward, smiling. It is evocative of the picture of you and Buddy that you keep on your blog.

    Now, off I go, humming . . . some enchanted evening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That picture tells me a great deal about my mom in the life she led before marriage and children. I sometimes wish I could get to know Her better. Perhaps I should open my thought up more to that possibility and stop looking at the limited version of life. :)

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You always seem to arrive with fresh inspiration for me.

      Delete
  16. Treasure boxes are so special and yours is so lovely. As is the story of how you received it.
    I always enjoy when my granddaughters put something I give them in their treasure boxes.
    Your mom is very beautiful and I love that she appears to have had a beloved dog, as you do.
    And the song 'Some enchanted evening' is one of my favorites. We had it played at our wedding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Cathy. I don't have grandchildren, but if I ever do, I will be certain they each have a treasure box.

      Delete
  17. Dear Teresa, . . . this is a truly lovely Mother's day posting. I, too, have a box. It is cedar with a beautiful patina. Glued on its lid is a scene of a forested village. In it are treasures from many years. Small pieces of life that bring back memories. And one of the memories, held within the box itself, is of mother buying it for me at the annual social at Saint Mary's Parish when I was in the fifth grade. Thank you for reminding me. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that your mother also knew the value of a box that would hold your treasures and memories. Everyone should have one. Thank you, Dee.

      Delete
  18. Teresa this was such a nice post. I loved hearing about the box and how your mom just knew how important it would be to you. I will say, I got a little teary-eyed over your story and I can just imagine, how you felt carrying the box when it started playing on its own again. So many moments like that in life, that cannot be explained.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a sweet and loving response. Thank you so much. These moments that cannot be explained provide endless fascination for me.

      Delete
  19. Teresa. That was a beautiful post. Lots of feelings and thoughts in that great poem too. Perfect. I have a copy of a handwritten journal that one of my relatives wrote and they traveled by covered wagon from Kentucky to the plains of Iowa in the 1800's. They were a hardy stock indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You entered my mind this morning, and here you are! :)

      What a great thing to have. It must tell some interesting stories of what had to have been a challenging life at times. I have several handwritten diaries that belonged to my aunt, my mother's sister. I love the stories they tell that include my mother.

      Thank you so much for your comments. It's always nice to hear from you.... I trust all is well with you.

      Delete
  20. Hmmmmmm. A small world indeed. Yours was the first web site I pulled up today. And I'm glad I did. I've been thinking about your post all day. My mind goes into "refresh" mode and a whole new thought appears. Of course lots of great memories of my mother too. You would have liked her. She would have liked you too. Thanks again Teresa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Steven, very much for your kind thoughts. A really nice way to end the day.

      You might find the next comment with another poem by Ms. Nye interesting....

      Delete
  21. This poem is probably too long for a comment section, but I got excited to hear that Naomi is one of your favorite poets as she is mine so I want to share with you my favorite of hers (which I used often when teaching writing).


    Valentine for Ernest Mann
    by Naomi Shihab Nye

    You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
    Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
    and expect it to be handed back to you
    on a shiny plate.

    Still, I like your spirit.
    Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
    write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
    So I'll tell you a secret instead:
    poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
    they are sleeping. They are the shadows
    drifting across our ceilings the moment
    before we wake up. What we have to do
    is live in a way that lets us find them.

    Once I knew a man who gave his wife
    two skunks for a valentine.
    He couldn't understand why she was crying.
    "I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
    And he was serious. He was a serious man
    who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
    just because the world said so. He really
    liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
    as valentines and they became beautiful.
    At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
    in the eyes of skunks for centuries
    crawled out and curled up at his feet.

    Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
    we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
    in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
    And let me know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kate, I cannot thank you adequately for this wonderful poem! A gift, really. Your comment, along with Steven's, is such a lovely way to close this day. Just perfect.

      "Maybe if we reinvent whatever our lives give us we find poems." I absolutely Love that line and the ending is sublime in its simplicity. Oh, to write like that.

      Thank you, Kate.

      Delete
  22. What a beautiful picture of your mother, and that lovely pooch! Thanks for your kinds words back at my place. Ken

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dear Teresa,
    I found your blog this morning while reading a comment you made on Greenwich Village Daily Photo and I'm glad I did.
    Your blog is full of meaning and beauty. I plan on reading all your posts.
    John M

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Ken, You're most welcome. It was a great photo you shot. I always like seeing what's caught your eye.

    ReplyDelete
  25. John, I'm so glad you came over to visit. I appreciate your response and hope you find something in my previous posts that speaks to you.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I remember Perry Como, but for me the only version of "Some Enchanted Evening" is and always will be the one my mother and father had the original Broadway cast recording of, the one I grew up with, with Ezio Pinza doing the singing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fkrt3NMvMHU

    Opera singers sometimes overpower a popular song, but in this case I feel that the song needs a powerful voice to release its magic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I came very close to posting that version and do agree with you. I decided on Perry though, as it most closely resembled the music box version - more lightly played.

      Thanks for reading.

      Delete