Yesterday my son unearthed a notebook from his desk (which had once been my desk) and, realizing it wasn't his, passed it on to me. A look within brought a delightful surprise: a journal from a trip my husband and I took with my parents. This happened before my husband and I had children, and the four of us spent a week traveling Michigan all the way to Mackinac Island. I'll share a couple of excerpts with you so you can see why this memory, twenty years in the past, was so nice to discover.
(We stopped briefly at my grandparents' old homestead, which we called The Farm. The house on this lovely twenty acres had recently burned down after being struck by lightening).
"August 1, 1993.
We left at 12:00 (and again at 12:05, Mom having forgot her purse). In the car: Dad, Mom, Julia, Jeff.
I can't help it; I wish Dad would turn on the car air conditioner. Apparently my parents love the tropical climate, being up there sweat-less and all. Okay, I take it back--he just turned it on. And off we go!
It's evening now and we're snug in our room at The Wooden Shoe Motel, which is, by general consensus, rather disappointing, with a lamp that doesn't work and an air conditioner that cools only half the room. However, I took a shower, and that was fully functional and refreshing.
Looking back at our day, I see a lot of flat-butt riding and some memorable activity. Our first stop was the farm, still beautiful in a wild, overgrown way. A lovely breeze was blowing, but the mosquitoes were vicious, persistent to the point of biting my feet through my shoes. Jeff's calves were also luscious to them, while Mom and Dad, though knee-deep in dewberries, remained unscathed.
My mother with a bowl full of dewberries.
The house was a sad black bolt on the landscape, gutted and incomplete with its stairway leading nowhere. I fingered the banisters and fought off the melancholy ghosts of people banging in and out of the screen door, scents of cooking wafting out, the creak of Grandpa's rocking chair, Grandma at the stove . . .
We didn't stay long. Mom and Dad got their fill of berries, and the mosquitoes got their fill of me.
(Later, in Saugatuck Michigan . . . )
After stopping at a drugstore for postcards and sundries (Mom and I were in and out three times), we met a 92-year-old man from the retirement hotel, very sweet and kind. "Must you use the washroom? Because you can follow me to the hotel and I'll make believe you're a friend of mine." "I don't really need this cane, but a man I knew fell down and skinned his nose, so I figure I'll use it BEFORE I need it!")
Then we were in the car again, stopping once at a lakeside turnaround to throw popcorn to some ducks and gulls. They were so cute, the gulls flying against the strong wind so they seemed to be standing still, waiting for the popcorn. They looked at us out of the corners of their eyes. The ducks were all queuing up to the little bridge, and when we tossed in the corn there was a hilarity of quacking that still makes me laugh when I think about it . . . ."
Well, you get the idea. I don't remember any of these events now, but thanks to my journal some ghostly memories come back to me with the reading. The travel journal captures the moment and allows one to return, if only briefly, to another time and place. While it may not seem profound in the present, it is most certainly so when it chronicles the past.
My husband with his in-laws.