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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
...and gone tomorrow (07/23/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns

My thoughts guide me back, one bare foot at a time.

I daydream, sitting out front on our wooden bench on what must be one of the most gorgeous July days on record. I grew up just a couple of city blocks from this neighborhood when these residential Lewiston plots were all cornfields.

Thirty-some years ago Second Street South was a new housing development, along the north side of the local golf course. Burns Builders built our home, and several of the others. Today I note the distinct differences in our village neighborhood since brand new shells of promising homes, seedlings, perennials, and stick trees were planted side by side on freshly sodded yards. Yesterday the world was young.

In the past couple years quietude seems to have fallen on our weathered dwellings, hectic time spent. I'm one of several here who have, or are soon to be career retirees destined to explore roads less traveled by, to forge new paths, or to rediscover the virtue in alone time. I'm already there.

I could never have pictured this early on, in my "we've only just begun" mindset. Those puny twigs the neighborhood children once jumped over have become huge billowy trees. They tower above roofs and shadow trimmed and weeded hedges, shrubs, and flowers.

Our massive red oak completely fills our double living room window with its essence. Our neighborhood is a picturesque rendering of the American dream, a Norman Rockwell moment.

The most impacting change has been children and teens grown and gone. The neighborhood was once alive with noisy teen-age chatter into the night, their prized vehicles, squealing tires, and continuous basketball's incessant clapping against cement driveways.

Common sights were more simplistic and utilitarian. TV dishes, cloth diapers whipping in winds scented by Simon's hog farm out on 14, and neighbors taking congenial time-outs with one another regularly, for laughs and lighthearted conversation, even burning the midnight oil on occasion. When you leave you can never come back.

There are now two daycare houses in our community. Little tykes come and go, delightful strangers, insignificant in their trendy cutesy outfits. Small shrill voices rise from unmarked borders, as they enjoy routine games, in backyards decked-out like playgrounds.

The original Second Street homeowners generate a lot less racket and activity today. Adult kids and their families stop by for brief visits. The evening street, for the most part, is still. Occasional walkers and joggers pass by quietly as animated scenes on a screen.

Oh yesteryear, where energy breathed its fullness dry, this sojourning waltz of golden years deserts you with a tear and a sigh.

Impatient recollections hold me captive. It's there and just as swiftly gone. It is with longing one seeks to remember "when," and in sadness that one forgets. Recalling the neighborhood as it began thirty-some years ago is a jumble of young faces, killing dandelions for pristine yards, Cardinal sports' uniforms, and late night vigils watching for wayward teens to come home.

We are merely a fleeting few who will claim possession of these same plots of earth throughout all time.

How many drum rolls and standing ovations can one expect from a single performance? Just as I catch myself romanticizing the distance past, "but what if" thoughts cloud any contented reverie of what these communities will be as our grandchildren make their ways into the greater world. Oh, ye of little faith.

We feel safe and secure here in the rural Midwest. Just as with everything else, nothing lasts forever. Here today...

Janet Burns has been a lifelong squatter in this neck of the woods. She can be reached at: patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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