Thursday, November 1, 2012

My First Field Notes


About the time I decided to buy this little chunk of land and resettle in Minnesota, I also took a drive to visit my childhood home. Having made no attempt to contact the owners beforehand, I parked briefly on the road and captured a couple of images as reminders of what had been. It was there, at the end of the driveway, that I had built my first tree house. It's a loose term for what was really just a platform of boards in a tree, a white pine to be more exact, but it allowed for a new perspective on a landscape that was oh-so-familiar. Or so it seemed. From that sense of height, and heightened awareness, the world felt wide open, maybe even limitless.

Through the years, the field beyond it played a big role in my life. It's a field of many stories. No, it wasn't always perfect there. The sense of isolation I often felt, even in my own family, was sometimes overwhelming. Sitting on that wooden platform, looking out across the field, I could hear the wind whistling through the pine needles, as though talking to me, encouraging me to not be afraid to go exploring, to become a discoverer of my own, larger life. It might well have been my first look at the field of infinite possibilities. Seeing it now from the advantage of life experience, it seems to have been a mirror of my desire to expand my life, my range of thought. Perhaps this field of infinite possibilities I'm now exploring sprang from that first tree house, that first field.


"Tree House"

Start with a tree,
an old willow with its feet in the water,
and one low branch to let you in
and a higher branch to let you
upstairs,
and a lookout branch to show
how far you've come
(the lake before you,
the woods at your back),

and now you are close
to those who live in these rooms
without walls, without doors:
one nuthatch typing its way up the bark,
two mourning doves calling the sun out of darkness,
three blackbirds folding their wings tipped with sunset,
twelve crows threading the air and stitching
a cape that whirls them away
through the empty sky,

and don't forget the blue heron
stalking the shallows for bluegills,
and don't forget the otter backpaddling past you,
and the turtles perched on the log like shoes
lined up each night in a large family,

and don't forget the owl
who has watched over you
since you were born.

Be the housekeeper of trees,
who have nothing to keep
except silence.

~ Nancy Willard, from The Sea at Truro






Image: the tree that held my first treehouse and the field beyond.

30 comments:

  1. Hello Teresa:
    Who is to say how much such things, for example, the building of your tree house and the surveying of familiar territory from a new vantage point, have a bearing on our future lives?

    Strangely, perhaps, we have never revisited the places of our childhoods.

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    1. It has become more apparent to me through the years how very much my younger years formed the present. It's fun and interesting to see this from the vantage point I now have.

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  2. I revisit the home of my youth every once in awhile. I feel the "me" that was there. hmmm...didn't think about that before.

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    1. I can well image that for some that visit to the past might be fraught with unhappiness, but for me, it's a bittersweet journey, more sweet than bitter. I like that I'm learning to bring that girl along for the ride now.... :)

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  3. Every time I revisit my childhood, whether driving by my childhood home or writing about it, thinking about it, I always find that I have been traveling to just the place I am now at. I loved this post, Teresa; your words and another meaningful poem to guide my way, especially this:

    Be the housekeeper of trees,
    who have nothing to keep
    except silence.

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    1. Penny, They are visits that always yield something new to be discovered and even enjoyed.

      I do love those lines, as well. :)

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  4. This was beautiful, and make no mistake my friend, the wind was talking to you!

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    1. Thanks, t. It's so good to have friends out there who completely understand.

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  5. What a lovely poem,I will have to look for more of her.I loved climbing trees and fashion a vaiety of "houses", many like yours with just a platform.Listening to whispering pines often returns me to a small forest area in NE IA where they were all planted about the same time as myself.

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    1. It was the first I'd read by here. It has such a nice feeling and wonderful images, doesn't it?

      Yes, those whispering pines....

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  6. Dear Teresa, the poem is lovely. Thank you for sharing it. I'll look for her poetry at the library.

    As to tree houses and vistas. I had an apple tree limb as well as a creek with boulders where I sat with Arthur--my imaginary friend who was a lion. There we whiled away the lazy days of summer, dreaming the dreams of youth. Peace.

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    1. An imaginary friend that was a lion! How magical! To have the imagination of a child again...perhaps I should practice. :)

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  7. How lovely that your childhood memories produce a sense of freedom!

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    1. There was a wonderful sense of freedom to my life. Perhaps living in the country allows for that.

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  8. I wish I could again enter the imagination I had as a child. We see such adventure and possibility when we are children. Or, at least some of us are able to do so. I love how you identified a spot that may have set you apart in some ways, but instead, it became a springboard for freedom.

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    1. Yes, "a springboard for freedom." Lovely thought, and very apt. Thank you! I trust your move went well, and life is feeling good.

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  9. For the past several years, for a variety of reasons, I have also wondered about the eventual effects of those early years, and the thought keeps coming to my mind that what really transcends a lifetime is the very early realization that there is a huge range of choices. Some folks, sadly, have never had that vision.

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    1. Good Morning! That's a good point regarding choices. I grew up with the belief that anything was possible, and that has made all the difference, as they say. I wish every child could have that truth engraved in their thought.

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  10. A childhood spent exploring the natural world is a lucky childhood indeed. Too many children now grow up in asphalt jungles, hardly ever allowed to go out into the world on their own.

    Those memories we have of days spent outdoors have given the lucky ones a curiosity and taste for ‘adventure’ modern children can no longer take for granted.

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    1. It was a wonderful way to grow up. There's a book titled, "Last Child in the Woods," which speaks to this. Now, children actually have virtual online pets.... can you imagine? Benno and Buddy only an idea online? Unthinkable! That practice doesn't bode well for their lives being authentic.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Friko. It's always nice to hear from you.

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  11. It's an awesome thing to be able to trace where you are now from where it began. Not everyone can see that field of infinite possibilities, and yet it took root in your heart and mind and led you here. Just...wow.
    Do you have a treehouse where you live now?

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    1. And very deep roots they are....

      I don't have a tree house, but was thinking about creating one. My house, though, is surrounded by trees of all kinds and in the summer I look out and see leaves and greenery all around me, so the effect is similar. It's awfully nice. Perhaps you have something similar there?

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  12. Oooh! I love that poem Teresa!
    I shall be searching for more of her poems, truly words to paste pictures within your brain...

    'three blackbirds folding their wings tipped with sunset,
    twelve crows threading the air and stitching
    a cape that whirls them away
    through the empty sky,'

    Your own words captured your childhood magical imaginings above the canopy perfectly. I'd have a frame around that photo of the tree with the view of the field of dreams beyond and have it on my wall. Special special memories like jewels twinkling at us from elsewhere....

    Have a good weekend Teresa!
    Hugs Jane xx

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    1. Dearest Jane, "Words to paste pictures within your brain," indeed. Aren't those marvelous lines? Such rich descriptions of beautiful images.

      That tree, that field are less than twenty miles from where I now live, but it's the tree and field within my mind that tells me all the possibilities are still there, in that field of all possibilities.

      Hugs to you, and a wonder-filled weekend!

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  13. Tree houses seem be an enriching experience for the psyche of a child at least in my experience this happens to be true. -- barbara

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    1. Very much so, Barbara. They represent so much.

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  14. Survived Sandy! Thanks for your well wishes back at my site. Ken

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    1. So glad to hear that, Ken! Love the photos you've captured of the City.

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  15. When I lived in Oregon and my boys were small, their dad built them a treehouse in the back. They were up there a lot.

    I visited that house recently and the treehouse has been torn down to make way for "something different". I felt sad at its passing.

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    1. Treehouses represent so much. It's easy to see why you would be sad at its passing....

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