Author: Karen Copeland
Writing 101 for today is “If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?” with the challenge of organizing the post around a description of a setting. This is definitely going to be a challenge for me!
How to even choose a place?
I am at the computer. The hum of the refrigerator a constant; the clock “tick, tick, tick, tick”; the clunk and roar of the garbage truck as it empties a bin – all interrupt my solitude, but at the same time become a part of me as I sit here and try to write. Where would I rather be?
Closing my eyes and transporting myself to my childhood home. The house my great-grandfather built. This beautiful, majestic white farmhouse filled with so many memories – love, laughter, tears. The sun is shining brightly, and it’s warmth penetrates me. The lilacs that border the gravel driveway are just coming into bloom. Tiny bursts of dark and light purple that offer the sweet scent of spring and renewal. Dusty, dormant grass hugs the edges of the sidewalk, with tiny glimpses of green beginning to show through, drinking up what little moisture the earth has to offer after a long winter.
Instead of walking into the house, I move along the curve of the sidewalk to the front porch. My safe place. The steps creak and groan as I make my way to the landing. I pick the chair closest to the door, sit down and inhale. The smell of dirt, dust and life. Chickadees flit in and out of the caragana bushes, sharing their message of spring with each other.
I smile, remembering how my sisters and I used to mimic this, hoping the birds would respond back to us.
Beside me sits a small wooden table that holds the green ashtray where countless cigarettes have come to rest over the years. Some of them my own. But mostly my dad’s. This was his spot. His place.
In my mind, he appears in the chair across the table from me.
He looks just like I remember him. Streaks of grey pepper his dark brown hair, combed over to the side. His dark blue workshirt is dusty – perhaps he has been working on his tractor, getting it ready for spring seeding. Blue jeans and cowboy boots. He reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a pack of Players. Draws a cigarette out and holds the box over to me, offering. I decline (although truth to be told I could use the acrid bitterness to fill my lungs right now – some days I still long for that). He puts the cigarette to his lips, lights it and takes a long drag. It’s almost like I can hear the tobacco crackling inside the paper tube. He exhales a glorious long stream of smoke into the air, and I watch as it dances away into the atmosphere.
And like that, he is gone. I feel the dull pain in my eyes that announces tears are on their way. My heart beats a bit faster and I feel overwhelmed with emotion.
The front porch isn’t the same without him here. It is cold. The branches on the caraganas begin to sway and out beyond the yard I can see the dust start to swirl on the driveway. The sky darkens with clouds you can only find on the prairies at springtime. Ominously dark, filled with much needed rain.
Drops of moisture appear on the sidewalk. The smell in the air changes, oh it is a smell like no other. Musty and sometimes stifling but wonderfully fresh at the same time. The rain washes away all the old, ushering in the new. Reminding us that life continues on, it does not stop.
A dog barks. The phone starts to ring. I open my eyes. I am still in front of my computer.
I miss you, Dad.