Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The House with Nobody in it

This old structure is in the heart of the Powell community.
I have been admiring this old place for decades.  It reminds me of the
little house in The Wizard of Oz, the place where
Dorothy meets the tin man.

Yesterday I made this picture and risked life and limb.  There is no
shoulder with whizzing cars passing literally inches away.

Clint and I are going back sometime and try it again, together.  It just occurred
to me to use this as a picture for this blog post since it resembles
an old empty house.

The House with Nobody in it

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track

I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.

I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute

And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;

That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.

I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;

For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,

And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.

It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;

But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid

I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.

I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be

And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,

Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.

But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone

For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do,

a house that has sheltered life,

That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,

A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,

Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track

I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,

Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,

For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

           ~ Joyce Kilmer

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) was an American journalist, poet, literary critic, lecturer, and editor. Though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his religious faith, Kilmer is remembered most for a short poem entitled “Trees”. (1913)


Last night we had a conversation about looking back ... spending too much time looking back.  Yesterday it hit me I have to start a new life, I can't go back to the way things used to be here.  Things are different and I can't start over where I left off, it's not possible.  Clint says he has been giving a lot of thought recently to not spend much time on looking back but living in the present and facing the future.  One subject he brought up was old friendships.  I know we have written about this before.  Yesterday I drove around, looking for some furniture, and came back home feeling lost.  I was in my hometown and things just didn't feel the same.  For heaven's sake, they aren't the same!  I stopped by an old well known store and for the first time in my life, I did not know a soul in the store or run into anyone I knew.

I know I am rambling on here.  We are very happy here and are excited about the future.  Clint has joined a fitness center and has started working out again.  I am anxious to start doing some oil paintings, I don't have much experience painting in oil.  My goal is to paint a large oil painting of the Smoky Mountains to hang over our mantle.

The last time in our Texas house,  I did look back.  The last few minutes there,  as I said good bye to the house,  I shot these pictures.  I couldn't help it.  Seriously, I am going to make an effort to realize I can't go back and not spend too much time looking back.  We all remember the fate of one particular woman who looked back ...

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not but rather find strength in what remains behind.

                                 ~ Wordsworth


Clint said...

It is exciting to look forward, isn't it? So much more stimulating and challenging. We should cherish the past for making us what we are today, but press onward to fulfill our destinies.

Shady Del Knight said...

In 1984 I visited the Shady Dell after an absence of 13 years. I don't know what I expected to find but it surely wasn't the place that I remembered so fondly. My old hangout seemed strange to me. As a man in his 30s walking in on a new batch of teenage Dell rats, I felt like an outsider, an intruder into their private domain.

I have seen recent photos of my old house in York and felt violated somehow, knowing that a different family inhabits it now. Is my old house happy? Are they taking good care of it? Does it remember me?

In 2001 I returned to York for my dad's funeral. I hardly recognized my hometown. I felt like a foreigner. I wasn't in a hurry to return to Florida either because Florida never felt like home to me. Ultimately "home" is wherever you are at the moment. We must all strive to accept that.

I appreciate what Clint expressed in his comment. We can't afford to dwell on the past and wallow in sentimentality. Be here now. Live in the moment. Make the most of the present because time waits for no man and the future's on its way.

Forget about the past, and all your sorrow
The future won't last
It will soon be your tomorrow

"It Don't Come Easy"
- George Harrison/Ringo Starr

Kathy Farmer said...

I think there are lots of ways we can look to the future. One of my ways is to plant seeds. I think that's always an optimistic thing to do, and it brings such joy to the future when the seeds have germinated and nature gives us flowers, or fruit, or vegetables.

Thanks for sharing this, Cindy. I love reading your blog.

Cindy Ellison said...

Thanks so much, Shady and Kathy! Just now I hope the comments problem has been solved, I have not been able to post comments on here to respond to your posts. Not even sure this will post but later today I hope to be able to respond ... heading out again today to look for furniture. Back to you later ... thanks!

Cindy Ellison said...

Shady, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I am not surprised that the Shady Dell seemed foreign after the passage of 13 years. I would also not be surprised if the place/building appeared much smaller than you remembered. I can't help but believe there are spirits in homes, hotels, buildings, etc. It's true we should strive to accept home wherever we are at the moment. As Abe Lincoln said, "most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be". Those are good lyrics in "It Don't Come Easy". Shady, thank you again for sharing your experiences on here!

Kathy, I love your idea of planting seeds, what better way to give a gift that truly keeps on giving. I know you love nature by the display of your stunning nature photos. Soon I hope to have a blog up about lightning bugs. It has been on my mind now for a month. Kathy, thank you for reading my blog and your compliment! ~♥~

Shady Del Knight said...

Cindy - You are absolutely right. It was jarring for me to walk through the Dell house and dance hall as an adult and notice how much smaller the dimensions are compared to the way I remembered them. The same thing happened when I returned many years later to the old house in which I was raised. Rooms that I remembered from childhood as going on forever were in reality much smaller.

Cindy, I want to thank you for being such a good "listener." You take the time to read my posts and my comments and listen to my songs. Few people make the commitment that you do and it is deeply appreciated. After reading and listening you take even more time to ponder, evaluate and draw conclusions. You gather your thoughts and express them in the form of comments that are intelligent and rich in detail, an attribute that I'm sure is related to your art background. Getting specific the way you do gives me a sense of satisfaction and completion. It leaves me feeling like we made a connection and that's what this is all about for me, making a real connection and identifying common ground. Thank you for being such an exceptional blogger and friend, Cindy!