Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Take the detour when you get the chance

I enter Highway 55, my approach swift, daring, short of reckless because of the harried drivers who zoom, dart, change lanes, tailgate and cut me off. Moms with kids, tradesmen in pickup trucks, and executives in suits whip around, forget to signal. Semi trucks scare the wits out of me. I release a heavy sigh when I see my exit. My shoulders relax and I slump comfortably; then my neck tenses when I notice the detour sign. I have to turn into Carondelet Park. If I stay on the thoroughfare I'll arrive to work on time. But I decide to drive deeper into the park. Enormous oaks and maples form a brilliant canopy as I wind my way through the park. Memories rain down like a happiness cloud burst. Spring is here and I am nostalgic ...

Easter Sunday, Mom in her dark, bouffant hairdo, one arm swinging her purse; Pops in his suspenders and blue chambray shirt strolling side by side. Her silky, forest green dress blows in the breeze as my children romp ahead chasing the wind and clutching their stuffed rabbits and dreams untold. Her grandma-prayers and cigarette smoke carry to the tree tops.

I drive around the lake and watch the fountain spew water sky high; it's a spray of shimmering giddy delight. This is the grand basin where I wheeled my baby boy in a stroller as he ate his first ice cream cone. A shaggy dog, walking by with its owner
snatched it from his hands and in one gulp devoured it. Now it's funny.

I pass the gentle sloping hill... is that you my little girl still rolling, rolling, giggling all the way down and racing back to do it again? "Please, Mom, one more time?" I lie down and roll with her, dizzy with happiness.

Every winter our family staked a claim on that steep incline where frigid air nipped our noses, paralyzed our fingers and froze our feet stuffed into plastic bread bags (MOM!) and fur lined boots. I see my younger self plopping down on a radio flyer and wrapping my children safely in my arms as we zooomed down snow packed ruts. Carefully I guide the sled over rough spots and into soft landings.

That vacant ballfield spinning dust memories reminds of the March wind carrying our kites with forever tails and endless string and childhood fantasies into the great beyond. Eventually they came crashing down, broken like our family.

Horshoe Lake beckons. Canada geese and Mallard ducks squawk louder than the noise that my children made when they chased those birds. They never caught a duck although they tried and tried. In pursuit of ducks and dreams and wild goose chases, my children waddled faster and further away than I thought they ever would.

Today's detour turned out to be a wonderful diversion, one of life's simple pleasures, a drive down memory lane. If you see a familiar detour, take it!
(This was written a couple of years ago.)

9 comments:

Bookie said...

This is beautiful, Linda. Loved it. You have several poems embedded here too. I love the remembering. I might get brave and send one of my remembering poems to you someday. I would put it here, but editors get so fussy about blogging being "published"!

Beth M. Wood said...

Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing ; )

Susan said...

That was a nice post, Linda. Very nice memories. By the way, regarding the photo that you say "these wonderful kids have given me laugh lines," are those all your kids? Nine kids? Is that too personal to ask? If you did have nine, wow, that was a big family! Take care and have a great, memory-filled day! Sincerely, Susan

K9friend said...

Lovely story, Linda. Nothing like a trip down Memory Lane.

Tammy said...

Thank you, Linda, for taking us with you on that lovely detour! I enjoyed every minute.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Claudia, do send me your memories! I know what you mean about publishing on your own blog. And Susan, the wonderful children are our blended family of grandchildren. My husband has two daughters and five grandchildren, and I have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Maybe it was written a few years back but it's still powerfully resonant today. I kinda had to take a moment, Linda, and sigh-where's does the time go?

Thank goodness for detours where we can catch up-if only for a moment!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Beautifully written with vivid imagery. Thanks for sharing. This was a nice detour in the middle of a crazy afternoon.

BECKY said...

So lovely. I loved the bouffant hair, cigarette smoke, flying kites!