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Mirages and interludes (01/16/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns
For women only! (And maybe not.) There is that secret place, where most young married mothers retreat to, a sentimental interlude of the mind.

Releasing the longing for romance and dreams of fleeing untold responsibility somehow pacify that forced rat race and invasive season of a woman's (or a man's) life. Such a conjured mirage is a momentary "fix."

As years drop away, and offspring are on their own, busy careers come to an end. Stressful business relationships melt into yesterday. An alcove where you can breathe your own air is conceived and personal pursuits put on hold for years finally become a delightful reality.

Most of us, fortunate enough, take flight with our grandchildren for one-on-one experiences, only to discover awesome joy and to form a bond one regrets had not been realized with one's own offspring (for lack of time, patience, and wisdom to seek it).

Back to the Lewis homestead on Fremont Street, and out of my grass-stained blue jeans and cowgirl attire, my sisters and I adored playing dress-up. Grown-up lady clothes, retrieved from abandoned dressers and cubbyholes, transformed tomboys into glamour queens pining for Mr. Cool.

It was difficult to imagine our mother in the silky, black lingerie that we were allowed to primp and preen with. There were snazzy things we had never seen our mother wear...delicate jewelry, wide-brimmed Sunday hats, flashy scarves, and daring high-heeled shoes in which we "clomp clomped" across hardwood floors upstairs.

Back then, did Mother's memory wander back in nostalgic reverie to a more carefree time, to cheek-to-cheek dancing, intimate dining, and romantic trysts in hideaway nooks? Through older black and white photos, Mother's beautiful, serene face seemed to drift into a dreamy mirage, unfamiliar to her children.

Back home a bulky, ruggedly designed cedar chest, made by one of my folks' fellow Bethany Moravians Alfred Mueller, forever sat beneath a south window at the top of the stairway. As a child, I sat there watching hotrods cruise by on Fremont, where steadies snuggled to blurting rock ‘n roll vibrations.

I inherited that chest, a family keepsake. It's sat in our bedroom all the years Pat and I have been married. It's one of those props, a familiar part of the background, taken for granted. What's in it?

How long it's been! I only recall art pictures of mine from grade school, Dad's Merchant Marines uniforms from World War II, and my christening dress. One day I'll revisit its contents...for a sentimental interlude.

Out on the home farm, Mother had stored a fox fur she had worn once upon a time, exquisite bedclothes with embroidered flowers and crocheted lace borders, and quilts sewn by the Moravian women's fellowship group.

I remember those gab sessions, and tearing carpet rags in strips, tying them together and rolling them into colorful fabric balls for rugs. The days of simplicity!

As I began dating, my private nooks dropped away, and circle skirts and billowing crinoline petticoats began to appear in my closet. My private hideaways were soon abandoned. If only I'd have clung to them a bit longer.

My favorite treetop perch...soothing squares of morning sun melted against tanned flesh on our enclosed front porch...interludes with striking butterflies in yonder clover field...and spring night's ripe, green yard, where heady scents of peonies and wild lily of the valley and fern that Dad had transplanted from the Arches.

Being cradled and rejuvenated by sought-out retreats softens the rigors of living.

The world of women is impressed by those guys who listened in, who likely hoard their own rendezvous spaces, apart from that routine, day-to-day grind. No matter that it may be an occasional game of cards with his buddies, a deer stand in a deep forest, a 4X4 excursion on scenic country roads, or the attic (where things of the past bring a fella down to earth and family).

May your interludes be innocent and your mirages in living color! Carpe diem! 


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