As usual, I brought my camera and thought I’d get a few pictures. After we finished at the cemetery we stopped off at the home place of one of my grandmother’s sisters (now deceased). I immediately saw some flowers I wanted to photograph but I couldn’t make the camera work. I thought it had something to do with my aperture setting and I was impatient to get into the woods to see what I could see so I didn’t worry too much about it at that time.
Her house had burned down several years back and her son had the remains leveled to the ground and then buried it all in a pit. The trees were all grown up around the place and it was very hard for me to get my bearings. As we walked into the property, we saw a hurricane fence among the trees and I knew we were walking beside what used to be the yard. Again I saw something I wanted to photograph and when my camera did not cooperate the second time, I looked down at the screen to see the notice: No SD memory card inserted. Well, of course! It’s not going to work without that little card! I had charged my battery and I told myself to remember to get my card but obviously I did not listen to myself.
We walked around a bit more and I saw what I think were remnants of blueberry bushes she had planted. That would have been over twenty years ago so I don’t know for sure that they survived. But I might need to wander back and check on them when it’s time for blueberries to ripen (when do blueberries get ripe?). We were getting hungry by that time so we decided to head on out to a catfish place where we like to eat.
On the way there we passed through an area that was recently flooded. There was a crowd of cars around and I thought it was some sort of checkpoint but it was people who were going back into their homes to check on things or clean up. That was saddening to see.
I thought of them going in to check on their things and of them having to clean up and rebuild. It’s so disheartening. Some of them may have done this more than once in their lifetimes. They are pretty close to the river in an area that is prone to flooding.
I thought of us going to my aunt’s old home place. The house is not there but I was able to conjure memories up just by walking back there and seeing the hurricane fence. The land is still there and someone could still make their home there if they wanted to.
My own grandparents’ house still stands in a clump of growing trees and I can visit there and enjoy my memories. The house is slowly rotting away but we could clear the land and build another house there on the same land where I have so many happy memories if we ever wanted to.
Here’s the thing I thought about after that:
I thought about those people in New Zealand who were affected by the earthquake in 2011 whose homes have now been “rezoned red.” That means the land has been designated too difficult to stabilize. They can’t go back to their land and rebuild. That made me think how sad it is not to have a sense of place. And yet, people move around so much these days. Is a sense of place still important to anybody?
When I return to these old home places and even to the cemetery I get a sense of who I am and where I came from. I’m grateful to be able to return to these places, to be able to really go there and not have to imagine them in my mind.
Later, when we got to the catfish place, after we had eaten we walked out into the parking lot and saw this old fellow scurrying across the parking lot. I must have taken about thirty pictures of him!
It felt almost as if he had a message for me. I read a little online about the symbolism of turtles and read some things that seem pertinent to me. Then I remembered a stone turtle I had in my collection of “treasures” back when I was a teenager. There was also a turtle shell about the size of this guy’s that a friend had painted for me. She used the psychedelic sixties colors and painted my name on the shell with those big puffy letters they used back then. I have no idea where either of those turtles is today but this old guy made me think of them.