Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Sense of Place - When is a Place No Longer the Same Place?

I was reflecting on my previous post and about how I travel back to some of the same places but it's no longer the place I yearn for...

What causes this?  And is it still the same place?  Let me give you an example...

This is my Mamaw's house...although it was sold almost 40 years ago.  This is the property, the structure, and the address of the place where we spent several weekends a month and full weeks in the summer.  Those are her roses on the left still growing and those hedges have been there as long as I can remember.

But the front door is closed.  There is no one on the swing...not even me and my brother swinging high...no sound of my Mamaw's broomstick pounding underneath the porch floor warning us young'uns to not swing so high that it flies off its hooks.

I don't hear The Secret Storm...her favorite soap opera...playing through the screened windows.  And the house is no longer green.

And where is the vegetable garden...the one where I toddled out with my Mamaw holding the colander with two tiny hands for her to put the fresh cukes in...where I could smell the vine-ripened tomatoes in the next row?

And where are the Chase's who lived next door?  Donna and Doris...who my sister and I spent time with when we were visiting?

Where's the swing on the back porch...the one too close to the house that we would swing horizontally? Where's my Bebaw, hunched over on that same swing?  Where's the smell of a quick whiff of smoke from his Lucky Strikes?  And where's the "bird bread" in the yard from his uneaten half of toast from breakfast?

And where's the clothesline and the wooden clothespins in the hanger that looked like a dress?  Where are those crisp white sheets freshly laundered yet still wet that I loved to run through?

Where is the smell of Zest soap on our skin as we go out the kitchen door fresh from our bath in the bear claw tub after a day of playing in the hot, humid summer?  Where is Mrs. Chase who came over from next door having decorating a plain cake my mother made for my sister's birthday?

And where is my Mamaw and cousin, Lynn, waving from the upstairs porch as my family and I head north to Ohio on the road below...after a wonderful time with my mother's parents and family?

So...when is a place no longer the place it once was?  Change is imminent.  Life is not static.  While much of the aspects of this place that gave it meaning is long gone...this place has amazing power...

The power to stir the senses and emotions of days I love to remember...even after so much has changed.


  1. so true and I don't have an answer. Makes me think about my childhood home.

  2. Great post, Denise. It tugs at the heart strings...in a good way.

  3. Places change but our memories hold them the same. Lovely post.

  4. Ooops, that comment above is mine. I'm using my husband's computer this week and forgot to sign him out. :)

  5. What a beautiful post! I love the dreaminess of your photos and your lovely words. This makes me stop and remember my grandparents house that is no longer there. I wish I had more pictures of it!

  6. Denise...this is beautiful...the writing and the photos. I too, drove past my gramma's house a few years back....HARDLY RECOGNIZED IT!! We had the run of the woods around it, picking blueberries, and now it is all built up. Sad in a way, yet NOTHING can steal our memories. :)

  7. Beautiful and haunting post...the tragedy of time -- it's really relentless, isn't it?

  8. This is so timely for me: after Dad passed away in 2011, Mom has been slowly, methodically, carefully emptying our family home of its contents. Last month she finally moved into an assisted living facility. Last week was the estate sale, and soon the house will be on the market. It started as a newly-built house in 1960...it was a Home for over 50 years - the only home I ever knew before I married - and now it is merely a House again. What made it a Home was the people living there.


  9. How lucky you are to have these memories, Denise, and even that the old place is still standing, changed though it be. It will always stay the same in your heart.

  10. At one time I had hoped to buy this house and make it home for my kids, but... Now they are grown and have their families and I have lost Roger and am alone, but also I am unable to handle stairs and ladders. Oh how I wish and miss....

  11. ahhhhh, memories..... I just LOVE the processing on these. Divine!


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