Once there was a stonewall beneath a lumbering live oak. Portions of the wall had crumbled, invading an absent-minded grove of cacti. My brother and I set up our restaurant in the shade of the oak, the stonewall doubling as commercial stove and serving table. Singly inspired, our menu boasted Spanish moss soup, Spanish moss burgers, and sides of fried Spanish moss.
Mere yards from the stonewall restaurant, down a rutted dirt road a wisteria tree slowly grew around a small door in the white board fence. We used it primarily when traipsing down the road, past the duck pond, to cut across the grassy hill when meeting our cousins* at our great uncle’s pool. In later years, when I lived on the property, I often retraced the wisteria route to a large flat rock sitting alone between two trees, just shy of the duck pond. When it was a morning venture, I startled doe and fawns; in the evening it was shooting stars that startled me.
No one gathers the Spanish moss anymore. The pool that hosted mermaids seeking Marco Polo has been filled in. A parking lot displaced my stargazing rock. And its magic has only increased.
The gathering place for one clan is no longer a home. The sanctuary of family and love has ended, yet, in some way remains. The houses still stand, reimagined and less cluttered with everyday objects, but houses nonetheless. The land is still bright and full of wildflowers, the sky stretching from treetop to treetop. Memories are made with each event, and though the people who make them return to their own homes and everyday lives, the very earth itself recalls these celebrations.
We held a party to say goodbye. Immediate family mainly, a cake, pictures, and one last trek to the “moonrocks”, our dried-up riverbed. I hadn’t been back since. This weekend was a memorial for an aunt* that brought back many familiar faces, including mine. We were remembering, and celebrating in the perfect location for us. Not the easiest, but the best. In those moments I understood how special it is that such a place remains.
The very ground I walked and revered as blessed by God continues to be trod by those celebrating, remembering, covenanting, and toasting. It is my ground no longer, nor does it belong to kith or kin. It belongs to all: to all who embrace the magical numinous of God’s creation.
*keeping up with actual relations is still rather difficult for me, thus those my age are cousins and those my parents’ ages aunts or uncles. Forgive me family members for whom that is frustrating.
All her life Alaina traveled. As a child it was through novels, history books, and biographies. She has never lost a game of Risk to Joshua. Including the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings editions.