Thomas accompanies Travis on a walk along the pines he planted 26 years ago. When they went into the ground, they weren't even as tall as he was.
Thomas accompanies Travis on a walk along the pines he planted 26 years ago. When they went into the ground, they weren’t even as tall as he was.

Last weekend at Doug’s Place, I found my lens trained on Travis even more than it usually is — and it usually is a lot. He’s used to it, and doesn’t pay much attention to what I’m shooting anymore, even if its him. He’s much more easygoing about it than I am — I hate being photographed. There is a reason, I tell people, that I stay behind the lens.

Carrying my tripod and stopping for a second to watch the late afternoon light play through the walnut grove he planted 25 years before. He's leaning against one of them.
Carrying my tripod and stopping for a second to watch the late afternoon light play through the walnut grove he planted 25 years before. He’s leaning against one of them.

I realized at some point, flipping through the images on the LCD monitor, that all the images I was shooting of him were inflected with a sense of savoring something for the last time. They were the collected story of his release of a place of refuge. So I asked his permission to share the pictures, and received it.

“I never quite got what you were saying when you would talk about being so attached to places,” he said Saturday night. “Until now. I get it more now.”

We added up the times we’d moved in our lives once, ticking off addresses and towns with our fingers. He was a minister’s kid, so he had a good head start, but I caught up with my nomadic early adult life. An involuntary move in my childhood only increased my attachments to places. It had a different effect on him. This is, he said, the only place he’s been attached to long enough to see his roots there.

“I always felt like the steward of this place,” he said.

“Like Hagrid,” I replied.

“Yeah, exactly. Like Hagrid.”

“So what do we do now?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, something this big feels like it has to lead to something else. Or maybe that’s just me needing everything to Mean Something,” I said. “Like looking for the door that’s opening as soon as one closes.”

“I don’t know.”

_DSC0024It was Saturday night, and we had our down mattress spread out on the deck he and his dad built. When they first built the platform, it was only a couple of feet off the ground. Then in 1991 or 1992 — no one can quite remember which year it was — the creek flooded and raised the level of the deck several feet. Deciding to do battle with nature, Travis went out the following summer and cemented the posts into the ground. Ten or twelve years later it flooded again, and raised the deck at its current height.

Nature wins again. Doug added taller stairs.

We were lying on the platform as the light waned Saturday evening, listening to the hummingbirds zinging in and out over the water. Fireflies took over from the hummingbirds when dark fell. A bat zoomed in over the deck to check us out.  The place wasn’t going to be boring to make us feel better about losing it; it would be potently itself.

Nighttime in the meadow.
Nighttime in the meadow.

We considered sleeping in the open on the deck, but we retired to the tent when I felt like the ground would be softer on my back than the wood slats of the deck. We kept the rain fly off, and I fell asleep to the breeze through the mesh, and the sound of the running creek.

We opened our eyes to the birds when light returned.

Another day. The last day. Here, anyway.

The walnut grove is old enough now to have a thick canopy above. My teenage stepson would call this a "legit canopy."
The walnut grove is old enough now to have a thick canopy above. My teenage stepson would call this a “legit canopy.”
Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Leaving your roots behind: images of departure

  1. This makes me sad somehow. The idea of leaving a place before you’re ready and not knowing if there will be another place half as important.
    But then, it is exciting to think of looking for a new place. You realize that, like a child or well-loved pet, there never really will be a worthy replacement. Instead the new place brings its own secrets. Its own voice. In its own time.
    I hope Travis plants new seeding trees so he’ll have shade for the summers to come. And places to lean.

    1. Yeah, it’s one of the things we have in common — never really having a home we either got to stay in or wanted to stay in. So we’re looking to do that now. Finding just the right place is going to be a challenge.

      1. “Finding just the right place…”
        But THIS place will be the one you both find, and I think the criteria is similar enough that, once you’re there, you’ll know it’s the right one. You’ve found some pretty amazing places together already. I suspect the hardest part will be finding a place you can get to near enough to where you already are. The farther/longer you travel, the harder it is to go back often enough to make it worthwhile.
        I can’t wait to see what y’all find!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s