When I was little and growing up, my favorite place of all was the Old Man’s Field, which was a homesite from the 1920’s, with a chimney pile overgrown with little trees. I would spend hours looking around, poking in the dirt for pieces of pottery and unearthing homemade bricks. Every now and then in the field I would find parts of a plowshare and old medicine bottles. It was my place. Everyone knew it was sacred to me, special. And then one day my dad bulldozed it. He cleared out all the scrub trees and spread the chimney pile out. He didn’t even ask me. I was so hurt and angry.
I remember Mama trying to reason with me. She said we wouldn’t have been keeping it the way it was, because it wasn’t like that when the old man was here. But it had been like that as long as I had been here. So I stayed away, so as not to see it torn up.
But then, do you know what happened?
I went back one day in the Spring. The ground was covered over with daffodils, the old-fashioned, sweet-smelling butter and egg type and snowdrops. They had been overcrowded and buried in the pile. Then scattered in the field everywhere were treasures, at least to me: I found his leather shoe soles and buckles and buttons and beautiful little cosmetic bottles and iron bed posts and many more plowshares and farming tools. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Garlic also came up in the field later that year, and canna lilies. I went back after that more often than ever before, sometimes every day, if only for a few minutes. I found that I could love that place as it was, at it is and as it be will.
I told my friend Rachel this story yesterday as we dug up the old iris bed, slicing the roots and tearing them apart. She said it was a good one and I’m inclined to think so too.