As a young man, I tended to envision time as a vast, unlimited resource. Time it seemed was an inexhaustible sea. Now in the autumn of my life, each hour is increasingly precious, and I thirst for each minute as it drips away from an alarmingly finite pool.
I recall puzzling as a young man, at the inclination of so many old folks to forsake the present and dwell upon the past, sometimes cutting all ties to here and now. These days, whiling away the long, tedious afternoons, in a dreary house that’s all but abandoned, plagued with pains and tormented by my prospects, I drag the rocker up by the stove, stare into the coals, and soak myself in a warm bath of memories.
I remember sitting by a crackling fire, high in the Sierra Nevada’s, and listening to the ill-tempered Jerseys filing past, with their cowbells clanking, their babies bawling, and the old bull curling his lip and looking for work. I remember standing on the rough plank sidewalk, outside the Ivy House, inhaling the aroma of grilled ribs sizzling, over Manzanita coals, and watching the massive freight wagons lumber by, with their oxen lowing, their hames bells jingling, and the iron-clad rims of hickory spoke wheels smashing the gravel to dust, beneath their cumbersome tonnage of crocks of butter and barrels of fragrant cheese. I remember believing that my whole life would be a long and wondrous adventure. And it was.
Closing my eyes with the sun on my face and the patter of rain on canvas, my memory reflects a shimmering image of overnight outings long ago, when summer was perennial and I was a barefoot kid. I remember the goose bumps and satisfying shivers as Grandma prepared me for bed, and washed my summer-hardened feet from the rocky banks of a brisk, babbling brook.
I recall my Granddad’s twinkling eyes and his pleasant, raspy chuckle, as I hugged his neck and he rubbed his whiskery chin against my face. Here on the hill where I raised my family, I revisit my time of parenthood, and recall priceless memories of my own mom and dad, ages ago when life seemed simple and childlike faith assured tomorrows joys. Treasure your memories, keep them fresh and never take them for granted. Even our memories can fade with the harsh glare of time. SC