For a number of reasons, personal and work related, I reached my stress limit…
which began to activate automatic shutdown mode. This requires a weekend brain reboot in order to make it through the next week. The search for mental and emotional refreshment led me to visit the old home place property I purchased last year. My early childhood and much of my adolescence was spent there beginning almost 50 years ago. It seems unreal the way time has flown by. I needed to compare the vivid mental maps from my memory and my frequent dreams to what really existed there today. I expected to look behind the heavy overgrowth and thicket and see the old house. Not a single block or brick remained. The sweet gum quartet that once provided shade for the front yard and porch stood tall after close to 100 years. Even the surface root I walked on as a toddler was not phased by time except for being larger. I noticed that the old cedar tree that was 3rd base during all those ball games had grown immensely. The big oak no longer graced the sky. The septic tank was the only evidence of a house ever being on the property.
I walked to the stream where as a child I couldn’t wait to get to and fish for crawfish, chub minnows, tadpoles, salamanders, and baby snakes. There was a slow trickle but no sign of life today. Erosion made it difficult to match any specific part with that in my memory. The garden area seemed so much smaller from what I recalled. Then alas! I noticed a corner foundation pillar of stones of the old barn I once found so intriguing to explore until the wasps repaid me for throwing hot water on their nest. Nothing remained of the structure but the corner pillars and pieces of severely decayed support beams. This was enough for me to re-envision it in my mind. Then something very familiar caught my eye. It was my first basketball goal rim, still painted orange but mostly intact. This image took me back to 1970. I decided to follow the stream back further to see how well my memory matched what was there. I envisioned where my uncle’s woodyard once existed. I came upon the old spring where we once drew water to drink and bathe. The spring seemed unchanged. The water still flowed from underground to form a smaller branch that flowed into the larger stream. By this time I decided to find a nice sized stick and proclaim myself explorer, hiker, and archaeologist for a day despite my slacks, dress shirt, and loafers. Except for that it was like being a kid again. I had always been afraid to explore much beyond the spring but today was my opportunity. Not surprisingly, my curiosity about the stream was much easier to quench at age 48 than age 8.
I thought it would be more fun to visit the site where my great grandparents once lived at the top of the hill. This home had been built not too long after the Civil War and even in my childhood memories had decayed almost beyond recognition. I wondered if the place could even be located. It didn’t take long to find the spot evidenced by two large stone masonry fireplaces relatively intact. That same trademark of cornerstone foundation pillars was again seen. There were just trace amounts of decayed wood. The tin roof of the out house rested flatly on the ground as its only remain. My great grandmother died at about age 98 when I was less than 2 years old and great grandfather died before I was born. I knew that she loved to grow flowers and had actually picked some with my mother as a kid. Today, it made me happy to see the daffodils and other plants flourishing without being tended for almost 50 years. It felt awesome and an honor to be the only descendant to visit such a place where these people lived so many years ago. My imagination went wild as I envisioned Great Grandfather Job and the men of the day constructing the home and Granny Kissire and the kids sitting by the fireplace or working in the flower garden.
Soon I moved on to find the dirt road that was once so familiar. The mental image did not match but I walked along where I thought the road should be. The road once ended at a now paved state road where the church I used to attend is located. The walk went well and I even thought I found an eroded version of the large stone where I’d always stop to rest when walking to church or to visit my cousins. Eventually, all resemblance of a road had vanished. The pasture where I was once so afraid of the cows came into view and in the distance sat the church, which was good. Had I been thinking like a normal human being I would have climbed the fence and walked the remainder of the distance from within the pasture. But in my quest to win the Lewis and Clark Exploration Award I eventually found myself being attacked by plants in what seemed to be a never ending briar patch. I feel like the deer, racoon, and squirrels were somewhere in the background having a ball laughing at me fighting briars with a stick and yelling ouch. After this exercise in futility I climbed the fence and was on the state road within 5 minutes.The return trip was much less interesting since established routes were used.
This post is one of those personal therapeutic entries that I need to do from time to time to help preserve my own sanity. The take home message is, however, an important part of good mental health hygiene. When your life gets crazy to the point you begin to feel control is slipping away the stage is set to activate your weekend brain reboot by finding something a little crazy to do.