Many people have gathered that I’ve been away from my computer and from recreational writing for the longest interval ever (since a daughter set me up with this fortuitously idiot-proof blog).
I’ll begin at the end.
I moved this week.
We moved into this sturdy home–Jim’s dream house, with its own pond, into which one of our toddlers plunked a plump hand during his first visit and lifted out a perch, which he promptly returned to its own home–on a humid October Saturday, when gold leaves clumped underfoot and New Hampshire mosquitoes still flourished.
There were five of us then.
Jim and I brought our three pre-schoolers to this house. The new part of the house was added in 1805. There was no dissuading Jim once he saw the home and the land, which burst with fruit trees and berries, neon lime-yellow quince the size of footballs, asparagus stalks with the circumference of silver dollars, and sparkling water graced with at least two magnificent swans.
As Uncle Randy would say at Jim’s service, “The Glennon family was home” once Jim saw this house.
We added sunny baby Suzannah the following winter, and became a family of six.
There are five of us again now.
This time much of the move took place on an uncharacteristically muggy October Saturday. The leaves seem to have turned brown early this year, and are again sodden. The mosquitoes remain out trolling for blood, despite one hard frost: enormous innocuous males lumber by, while tiny females stealthily come at us from the periphery and we feel the rise of scarlet welts only after it is too late to swat the little devils away. They give no warning.
Moving has given rise to more emotions than I can convey.
But back to the beginning and the end of this move.
I stumbled upon two things during my last once-over, one in the attic and one in the ancient barn where Jim kept mysterious tools and gadgets, panels of wood, and seemingly endless unopened boxes and bags of hardware and parts for projects he never had a chance to finish.
First, I swept up a patch of discarded flotsam in a dark corner of the attic. A white sheet was face-down, and I picked it up and turned it over.
I have no idea how it came to be there, alone and underfoot, yet somehow unscathed. It is a photograph Jim took and printed himself from a strip of film when we were teenagers in college. On the back, in his handwriting, is only a bare notation of the exposure: “7 sec.”
The photograph is in black and white. It is of a winding wood-slatted path through a salt marsh, likely taken in summer on the South Shore in Massachusetts.
From the angle where Jim stood, no doubt surrounded by buzzing mosquitoes, the path resembles the outline of a seagull in flight. The path seems to disappear into tall grass in a delicate inverted “V” in the distance, although clearly the path continues on.
At the bottom, as if caressed by the seagull’s left wing, are five distinct shadows. They are cast by clusters of tall marsh grass in afternoon sun and peak at steadily increasing heights as they lean toward the unseen photographer.
Of course I took the photograph with me. I will find the right place for it wherever we go.
Hours later I left the house for the final time, with a final load of family belongings. I went back up to the top of the barn.
Something caused me to poke my head between two of the broad shelves, where I saw a white box that had slid towards the wall and was difficult to see. I opened the box and quickly closed it and tucked it under my uninjured arm (we’ll get to that moving story later, as we go back in time).
It was filled with baseballs, from Jim’s Little League coaching days with our sons and their classmates.
The first person I met in my new neighborhood the following morning somehow already knew my name. It turned out we had met before.
She remembered me from Little League; her son was on one of the teams Jim coached. And she said she was sorry; she had read his obituary, and he was a wonderful man.
I am always glad to know he is remembered.