Monday, June 12, 2006

Lustre Years

It was just before the busy rush of spring planting about a month ago that I found myself on the road heading to a rural corner not far from where I live for a home visit appointment. It wasn't an unusual task. In fact, a large portion of my workday is meeting with families and individuals, often in their own homes..........often in the country. So, after I had dropped off my own family at school and work destinations, I set off to the tunes of Bruce Springsteen. The farther I moved away from the city, the clearer my head became of cluttered thoughts. I always experience a sense of freedom and creativity when I'm on the road for work. It must have to do with the feeling of purpose as well as the propelling movement of the journey.

My destination was situated past the out of the way village of Stanley, New Brunswick. I don't know why it seems off the beaten path to me, except that it feels disconnected to the Saint John River, which as far as I'm concerned is key to my feeling a sense of belonging to this part of the world. It's a beautiful area, but not close enough to water for me to ever consider settling there. So, I'm skipping along, listening to tunes, taking in the scenery, driving through the village when I realize that I have taken the wrong turn. I'm heading down the wrong gravel road. However, something about the morning sunlight hitting the fields which are coated in mist.......something about the large century old farmhouses with big porches and peeling paint..........something about the feeling of abandonment and the impressionistic beauty of the scene..........touched my wandering, wondering curious side.

I pulled off the road and quietly absorbed nature's picture while wondering where everyone was. There wasn't a soul in sight. Was I the only one lucky enough to enjoy the view? Thoughts and questions came tumbling out of me............and so did the descriptive words.
What was this area like in the farming glory days? Has prosperity left for good? Have the youth moved on, leaving behind aging family members? What are the stories of the people who live in the big old houses?

I knew the answers to a lot of my questions. Even though I had never been down this particular road, I have been down many roads like it and have had the opportunity to be invited into similar homes as part of my job. Poverty lurks in this area. As much as the view had a majestic feel to it, it was only the mist that blurred the reality. The backroads of the Maritimes are full of ancestral stories of fully active family run harvest times..........of pride and belonging........of hard work for little money................of providing, producing and sharing. Now, behind the mist and the sun, behind the Monet inspiring view is old age.

Early morning sun splinters

Tired tilled fields of wainscotting mist

Lipstick red raised roofs

Winter worn pallored barns
Littered with long ago harvest remnants

Hushed tone silence grows in the fields of abandoned lustre years.

Retired story dusted verandas

Steeped fabled secrets

Worn planks of peeling paint

Piano parlours of spent dreams

Crowded memories under aching eave homes

Hushed tone silence grows in the fields of abandoned lustre years.

Past glories of cordials and cornflowers
Spirits of late summer slumber breezes
Sweet pipe tobacco aromas

Proud quitting time contentment

Unforgotten elegance of past prosperity

Hushed tone silence grows in the fields of abandoned lustre years.



BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Life, at each and every juncture, is indeed filled with contradictions.

Ellen said...

The Boss tunes.... on the radio...driving in the country... no wonder you were so inspired!
Nothing like going on the road "less traveled" for a few minutes, huh? It's amazing how it stirs the juices.

Lovely visuals with your poem!

awareness said...

Contradictions are spice.

thank you for your comments.

The poem is not yet finished, but it sure felt good to post the darn thing in order to clear the creative noggin! I believe that poems should be "stand alones" but this one definately needed an intro. When I was writing the intro, I realized that maybe this poem needs to be a short story, which may be why I had such a tough time finding the rhythm. may reappear one day in a completely new party dress.........who knows??

Michael K. Althouse said...

This is compelling. It left me curious. You said:
What are the stories of the people who live in the big old houses?
That's what I was thinking as I read this. Every house had a story hidden silently within its walls. Who would tell it? Is there anyone left that can?

There are a number of old forgotten backroads not far from where I live in suburban Sacramento County that lead to old forgotten ghost towns. Old gold rush towns that have been abandoned for years. I often wonder what those towns would say. What story would they tell?


Kelly said...

I often work on my short stories in my head while I am driving the 32 miles to and from work.

awareness said...

Hey Mike.

I was going to make an attempt to give a general description of my "take" on the stories, but instead......I will work on a larger piece and post something this week. You highlighting/reflecting my question back to me generated a few story ideas that obviously were percolating inside my head......... Thank you!

myutopia..........great name BTW...
driving and creating......two great activities that definately go together.