Keeping the Calendar
With the certainty that my brain's memory might fade over the years, I archive the trivial events of our days to the memory of my computer. Several years ago, I started keeping a simple word processor table, four cells across by three down, as my way of keeping in order what happened when. Each square contains the name of the month and a bulleted list for the mundane happenings of an easily forgotten life.
Bullet: Last frost
Bullet: First blooms of Bloodroot and Hepatica along Goose Creek
Bullet: Heavy rains. Road washed out.
But some months, I've forgotten to record a single item. Then, I have had to try to go back in time and retrieve the memories. I don't always succeed when markers of time that seemed so significant in the present moment become lost in the gray haze of past and perfectly ordinary days. I bring up this matter of remembering because, here in April, I must revisit winter to add an unrecorded jot to the calendar for January past.
Our narrow valley is flanked by rugged hillsides overgrown in what mountain folk sometimes call a "laurel slick". These under-story shrub-forests of Rhododendron and Mt Laurel are always on steep and rocky grades where soil is thin and foot travel nigh impossible. You'd be wise to find another way to get where you're going than to look for a path through such a place as this but my wife was determined that was just the way she would go.
Against the skyline along the crest on our east ridge, a gentle V-shaped cleft of sky marks where a wet-weather stream has cut its way down the mountainside, invisible beneath the arching greenery. For days after every hard rain, we leap over the little brook that swells out of this laurel thicket to flow across our footpath, bound eventually for the south fork of the Roanoke River. In the distance up the hillside we could hear- but could not see-that water was falling under the slick of dark and leathery leaves.
And here is what I must not forget: On her few days home the week after Christmas, in spite of all the to-do of the holidays, my wife Ann was determined that she would reach that invisible waterfall. She would cut the twisted laurel branches and clear a trail up the steep slope to the little cataract. She would pull fallen limbs and debris from the shallow plunge pool beneath the rocky ledge. Finally, from two flat rocks and an old board she would fashion a seat where we-or she alone-could sit, sheltered from the pressure and hurry of the larger world. In her digging and tugging, in the clamoring over the steep and secret place was such grand play, and we play so seldom any more.
But like the neglected trail she cleared through a laurel slick to tiny hidden falls, the memory of that brief window in time will soon be obscured by obligations and duties. Routine and the passage of anonymous and featureless days will shroud the memory of that time in forgetfulness-those special hours my wife spent purchasing her dream.
And now, so that I will be able to recall them again from the impenetrable thicket of the past, I want to go back and add those days to my computer calendar memory for January, 2005:
Bullet: Ann's falls.
This is a revisited fragment from this week, one year ago.