Monday, May 14, 2012

Field & Difficult Goodbyes

Photo by Amy LV

When I was a little girl, our home was surrounded by fields.  And so of course, my sister Heidi, the neighbors, and I would play and play and play in the ditches and goldenrod patches, pretending we were runaway orphans, animals, anything and everything.  We'd pat down the weeds and hide ourselves in there for hours, and the green stems really felt like solid walls.  These neighboring fields were my second home, my imagination home.

In time, each field was bulldozed into a lot for a new house, and the locations of our small hideaways disappeared, turning, one-by-one, into grassy yards and basements.  Progress goes on, but sometimes it makes me feel sad.

Students -This is a poem about change, and it is also about a loss that made me a little bit empty.  You will notice that structurally, this verse is simply a list of descriptions, closing up with a question and statement.  Writing this poem didn't make the houses go away, but giving voices to my feelings helped me to say goodbye and maybe, to connect with other people who have felt this same way.

If you're interested in thinking more about children spending more time in nature, visit the Children & Nature Network, an organization brimming with generous and wise resources for home and classroom.

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  1. Several of my homes have been taken by different things, one is now a parking lot. Your poem spoke to me of childhood fun in nature, something I love to share with 'now' my grandchildren, but also change, as you mentioned, Amy. I hope your farm stays just the way it is for a long time!

  2. I grew up in the country in the same house my dad grew up in...and although the town and surrounding nature are pretty much the same they've been for decades, the house is no longer in the family. I sometimes wonder if the new people left our designs on the slanted attic ceiling or found our scribblings behind the kitchen cabinets.

    Lovely poem, Amy, and certainly universal. It made me sigh.

  3. ACTUALLY ... I sort of had a different memory come up when I read this poem (which is why poetry is so great -- it really can take on more or different meaning than even the author intended, because the reader makes it his/her own).

    When I was a kid (I spent 5ish years in the little tip of West Virginia sandwiched between Pennsylvania and Ohio), I had unlimited outdoor areas in which to play. Our house had a forest behind it that ran down a valley, and it had a wide open field across the street. Ours was one of only 7-8 houses that I recall in that "subdivision" and we could do pretty much whatever we wanted. But over the course of our time there, other houses were built.

    We did not lament the loss of trees or grass or flowers or anything else ... we treated those dug out basements and cinder blocks and wood planks and dirt mounds and plaster and tarp and gypsum boards like they were our own! We built ramps with the cinder blocks and wood planks and jumped our skateboards into the newly-cemented basements. We made little forts of the dry wall and tarp and heavy buckets of plaster. We constructed scaffolds and climbed up walls to nowhere. We carried our bikes to the top of dirt piles and took turns riding down until one of us crashed.

    To this day, whenever I spot new construction, I stop to take in the sight and the smell -- oh the SMELL of bricklaying woodcutting plasterdrying dirthardening and how cold metal bars of every size felt in my nine-year-old hands.

    They might have been someone else's new houses. But we lived there first.


  4. Ed,you just nearly achieved the perfect companion poem to Amy's farewell. Go on, finish building that unfinished house you lived in!

    Goodbye hello...

  5. What fun! I love these connections flying back and forth, love my poetry friends. Ed - we used to visit and play in the foundations and newly-framed walls too, pretending they were ours. ('Wish I'd been a skateboarder!) But then the lots were gone, and the houses were gone to us too, and I guess I just mourn the lack of greenspace for so many children. Thank you for reminding me of that fun interim time. a.