Return to the Field’s Edge
When I was growing up, my neighbor and I built forts. Every summer, it seemed like, from late elementary school on through mid-junior high, we spent a good chunk of time nailing together some lumber or logs or even just throwing a roof over a hole in the ground back in the woods. The most elaborate of these was a boxy thing up on stilts at the far edge of my backyard, up on a small hill and behind two rows of pine trees my dad and I had planted.
The west-facing view from that fort hasn’t changed much in the past decades: The field it sits beside still alternates between corn and soybeans and the occasional unfarmed summer, and I can mentally sketch the shape of the treeline at the far side without even thinking hard.
When I was in college, I self-published a book for my Dad: just a collection of a half-dozen short-short stories, a poem or two, and an essay about a camping trip. I typed them up on my old tank of a word processor and had them spiral-bound at a copy shop. I titled the project "Stories from the Fort at the Field’s Edge," and I had my friend Aaron sketch a cover of the fort, which Dad had helped build.
Many years later, I returned to that expanse of land when I thought of the name "Field’s Edge." It takes no effort at all for me to visit it in my mind in any condition: I know what it sounds like during a snowfall and I know what it smells like after a thunderstorm and I know what it feels like during a humid summer afternoon.
Messing around with Virtual Earth the other day, I was checking out that field, and I noticed something:
Here’s a closer, re-oriented view, just in case it’s not immediately clear:
This was the first part of a much-needed creative jump-start. The second part came last weekend when my family threw a surprise birthday party for my mom. I spent last Saturday night near that field again, in the shadow of those pine trees and in the company of extended family and friends I’ve known since middle and high school. It was a perfect, chilly late-summer evening and it was like swigging bottled memory while drinking in a wondrous present.
There is much writing to be done. Summer ends soon, and fall is too short.
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