The Importance of Place

  • By B. Lynn Goodwin.

    If I am grouchy, please forgive me. My allergy gremlins are at fault. I’m allergic to my eyes and my hair and possibly my skin. My nose demands one tissue after another. I can feel the redness, like raw skin in search of fingernails to scratch it. Everything’s a little blurry, but I have to write anyway, because I found a picture book summer again this morning as I turned down my street on my way home from a trip to Lucky, CVS, and the Danville Library.

    Leafy & luxurious

    First I saw three mothers, in skirts and shifts covering swimsuits, traveling to the pool together. One carried her baby. One wheeled a red wagon toting two toddlers. One carried a giant Mom-bag over her left shoulder and a picnic basket in her right hand. Through my open window, I heard their sparkly sandals flip-flop against the cement sidewalk.

    Two boys whizzed by on bikes. They could be nine or eleven. “Look out,” the one in the rear called. They’re also dressed for the pool in baggy trunks and classic white T-shirts with towels draped around their necks and flip flops on their feet. Only their helmets and backpacks reveal the era.

    I hear thousands of wheels from decade after decade of boys riding to the pool, a buddy’s house, the store, or the creek. Their minds are intent on borrowing a video game from Bobby or sneaking past Suzie’s mom and hanging out with her ALONE, maybe while the bratty baby sister’s taking a nap. I see thousands of moms taking kids to the pool. My own mom did it fifty years ago.

    I don’t know these kids or their agendas, of course, but I like to imagine that these families have no schedule this summer. I like to imagine that this is their time to roam, to explore, to see bugs and grasses up close, to win in their age category for the Sycamore Sharks, to devour one book after another from the public library and to revel in the relative safety of suburbia.

    Sit under me and read.

    There’s something about the canopy of leaves over Sycamore Valley Road that leaps out like a page from an old Bobbsey Twins book. I know, of course, that we’re no longer in that era. When our Nan and Flossie run a lemonade stand, mom sits on a lawn chair a few feet away or maybe in the driver’s seat of her Prius. The girls don’t object. They want Mom to be alert to every customer, even in this safe neighborhood. Bike helmets and predators bend the illusion that summer never changes. I think it’s the faces of the kids on adventures that never change. Summer is about swimming, texting, biking, selling lemonade, vacationing, and luxuriating in the long, long days that precede Back-to-School.

    Sycamore Valley Road brings all of that back to me, because of the kids and the arch of sycamores that create the perfect dappled setting.

    Our cup is half full, whether we know it or not. No wonder I’m pretending that the allergy symptoms don’t exist. They don’t belong in this perfect world.

    Place matters. What places inspire you to dream your best summer dreams? I’d love to have you post it here. Thanks!

    B. Lynn Goodwin

    B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care; Thickjam.com, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun. A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network and InspireMeToday. She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir. She’s the owner and editor of Writer Advice. Writer Advice recently celebrated its 16th year and runs contests for aspiring and published writers as well as sharing useful tips from experienced writers.

    For more information, please visit writeradvice.com.

    View all posts by B. Lynn Goodwin.

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    7 replies
    1. Dr. Mike
      Dr. Mike says:

      My past includes such a complicated trail of places that I should have left a trail of bread crumbs, but some spots will always trigger great memories. In particular, I spent hours on a swing on the screened-in porch of my childhood home. From there, I could see across the cornfields, listen to the red-winged blackbirds singing and watch the sunrise. Few cars traveled the road that ran about a football field’s length from our house, which kept it quiet, except for the wind and the birds and a distant farmer’s tractor or two. Sometimes still, when I need to think my deepest thoughts, I find myself in that swing, rocking back and forth in my mind. It soothes me all the way to my soul.

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