Fallen Leaves

When I bend low in autumn

to gather fallen leaves

Each one holds a memory

I’m longing to retrieve.

My childhood home before me,

the window up above,

where I beheld each season

the maple tree I loved.

Mother was a gardner

raising corn for harvest.

Father was a builder

with wood and brick an artist.

We children ruled a kingdom

in summer we would seek

to exercise our power

over crawdads in the creek.

The golden leaves speak clearly

of fireflies in jars.

Dreaming by the campfire

and watching shooting stars.

Then the leaves fall silent.

Their voices disappear

Now rise as word on paper

to speak in later years.

Our Free Day in Paris

“Repetition doesn’t create memories, new experiences do.” —Brian Chesky

Herb and I turned the faded pages of an old photo album with pictures from our trip to Europe in 1979. I pointed to a picture taken in Paris. “Look at us. We were just kids then. It’s hard to believe we backpacked through Europe for six weeks. We were brave.”

Herb nodded. “Let’s visit some of these places when we go to France next month. Most of our time is scheduled with Viking excursions but I’m sure we can arrange to have one free day.”

Earlier this year we booked a Viking River Cruise to visit the D-Day landing sites on the beaches of Normandy. This would be our first trip abroad in forty years and I was unsure of what to pack.

“I’m wearing the same sweater and jeans in most of these pictures,” I laughed. “I must have thrown them away when we came home. All of my clothes had to fit in one backpack. Now I’m having a hard time limiting myself to one suitcase.”

We talked about how different everything was in 1979. Forty years ago we didn’t have cell phones, navigation systems, or digital cameras. We used film to take photos. As newly weds, our tight budget constrained us. Whether or not to buy another roll of film was a big decision.

We pulled out our map of Paris and made a list of three places we wanted to revisit. I couldn’t wait to go. Everything fell into place and we selected June 5 as our special day to travel in our personal time machine to the year 1979.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame, 1979
Notre Dame, June 5, 2019

From this angle the iconic belfry towers look almost as they did in 1979. The church is under a huge reconstruction project as a result of the terrible fire in April. The entire area nearby the church was closed. The rainy weather added to the despair of the scene. For the latest on the reconstruction effort click here.

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens 2019

On September 17, 1979 we celebrated our second wedding anniversary by getting dressed up and asking a bystander to take our picture. Herb must have carried his tie in his backpack. We didn’t see much of the gardens this year since we were in a hurry to meet our shuttle back to the Seine River to meet our Viking longboat. After snapping the shot on the right, we darted away to our third stop.

Hotel Gay-Lusac

We stayed here in 1979 because of the hotel’s proximity to Luxembourg Gardens. Here I am wearing my “uniform” and carrying my backpack. I used to cover my head with a scarf on bad hair days. Today the street is under construction and not nearly as romantic as I imagined.

My opening quote says it all. Repetition doesn’t create memories. It’s impossible to relive the past. You can’t recreate the magic because nothing is the same. Memories are better appreciated when they are kept in photo albums.

Stay tuned for future posts about the experiences we enjoyed and new memories we made in Europe this year.

The Lunch Box

Cobwebs brushed across my face

As I cracked the cellar door

Hiding somewhere in this place

My childhood past was stored.

There upon a table

Sat a white box brown with rust.

The letters on its label

Spelled my name beneath the dust.

This was the lunch box I loathed,

Ashamed to carry each day.

Its trim of flowers and bows,

Couldn’t hide what it conveyed.

I was a girl of humble means

Whose parents were simple and poor.

School-bought lunch, a luxury,

That I could never afford.

The box now empty, thermos gone

Scenes of my childhood arose

Mother rising before the dawn

To warm my soup on the stove.

I know my parents worked so hard

And gave all they could to me.

This homely box, I can’t discard

Stored deep like the memories.

Valentine’s Day usually brings with it sentiments about love. I decided to share “The Lunch Box” this week because it expresses my feelings about my parents, my past, and how something so ugly and despised, could change into something beautiful. I still have my Junior Miss lunch box from 1960. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I keep my old lunch box because it reminds me that no matter how ugly I might feel, I am loved by God and beautiful in his sight. By the way, God feels the same about you!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Do you keep any relics from your childhood? Leave a comment.