A riff on Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel.
Once upon a time we lived in a tiny white cottage on a property called The Millrace. It was named so because of the crumbling remains of the water gates and because the remnant hollow of the race ran the length of the property. A conservation area along a creek protected many acres on one side of us and a vast corn field occupied the other.
Ours was the last house at the end of a street. Situated as it was on the boundary between village and country, between urban and rural, our property was a wonderful place to raise children to a knowledge and appreciation of the natural world. And to teach them not to fear dark woods at night.
We taught them to identify birds and nests and trees and animal tracks. We examined old overgrown stone foundations and gathered raspberries. We collected fossils from the creek bed. We dug yellow clay from its banks, moulded it in imitation of Indian pots and platform pipes and sundry other items and fired them in a bonfire in the back yard so they could understand a primitive but effective process. We showed them how to survive and escape if they fell through ice.
One child said later that geology 101 was a breeze--she had already learned all about ox-bows and Ordovician shale from our forays along the creek.
Our place, with its hawthornes and lilacs and willows and apple trees, where foxes ran in moonlight, contained a certain magic. One wintery day we saw a partridge in a pear tree.
And one day the children discovered this fawn hidden in the tangled brush at the very back of our property. One of them carefully snapped this photograph.
It reminded me how bits and pieces of our lives work their way into our stories ("O ghost...come back again.") The old cemetery beside Lillie's white house where Dumbarton chases wraiths in Dark and Disorderly stretched its narrow length along our street.
Our little cottage is gone now, swallowed by development ("gone and by the wind grieved")
A BTW: Most of you already know the tale, but this morning, Dark and Disorderly appears in Dear Author's weekly First Sale feature.