juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

PLACES

PLACES

 

There are probably dozens of reasons why we become attached to a place – a locale – a particular niche in the landscape of our lives.  While I do remember all the places where I’ve lived none of them are memorable to the extent of touching my heart.

 

It is now some 50 years since I was there but I still have a warm spot in my heart for New Orleans. On the shores of LakePonchetrainI danced to music coming over the car radio from The Blue Room and he put a magnolia in my hair. I can hear soft jazz enveloping the air in the French Quarter – taste beignets and chicory flavored coffee – and recall marching behind a funeral cortege to the tune of When The Saints Go Marching In.

 

There is a small lake in southern Wisconsin where a piece of my heart still floats on its ripples.  It was there I learned to swim –  there, I fell off the running board of a Good Humor truck and contacted blood poisoning from landing on a gravel road – there, where I pigged out on black-cows. There, where I was given the freedom to come and go as I liked  – no questions asked – no cell phone to report in. There, where I picked fresh tomatoes from Grandma’s garden, doused them with salt and ate them for breakfast. There, where the smell of goat cheese coming from the icebox – yes, ice box – made me head for the back door.

 

I fondly recall an elegant restaurant at the top of a hotel in Lake Tahoe at close to midnight one evening when it was closed for dinner but accepted a plea for dessert. The ski slopes had shut down and we gazed out the window at snow covered mountains under a starry sky. I was feeling celebratory as I had just won $100 in the casino. Our waiter insisted he be allowed to choose our dessert.  He brought us bowls of fresh strawberries smothered in Kalua flavored crème frache, topped with chocolate shavings, profiteroles and,  with a goodly amount of flair, opened a bottle of very old, very fine, port.  No dessert I’ve ever had since has matched that.

 

Ellison Bay,Wisconsin– home of The Clearing – a retreat for writers and other artists, housed on a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. Several log cabins, connected by sawdust paths, are laid out beneath a thicket of pine trees. Here I was Thoreau in the wild! Here, I got good critical feedback from a creative writing instructor. Here, I was, for six lovely days, in the company of creative people. I will never forget the joy on the faces of an older couple as they left a woodcarving workshop, carrying a woodpecker and a thrush. I imagined them mounting their handiwork on the front lawn of a curlicued cottage complete with white picket fence, window boxes of pink petunias, and a hammock under a weeping willow tree. Surely the Garden of Eden looked like this place.

 

There are some cities that hold parking spaces in my memory. San Francisco for its vibrant cultural diversity, Golden Gate Park  and Fisherman’s Wharf. Toronto for its annual Canadian National Exposition – the best entertainment bargain I can imagine – and its efficient public transportation system.  Madison, Wisconsin for its academic atmosphere and a fine restaurant in the basement of an old winery that featured strolling violinists. Oshkosh,Wisconsin for the camaraderie of the sailors at the marina on Lake Winnebago and free access to a pool and tennis courts at the adjoining hotel.

Best of all is the unforgettable city of Jerusalem. There are many reasons why Jerusalem stands out – too many to mention here.  Let this one suffice. I love its stones – rosy pink in the morning and shimmering gold at sunset. They are like a woman who changes from shorts and tee-shirt to a cocktail dress at night. For me, the stones of Jerusalem are not inanimate objects at all. They speak of four thousand years of history. They have heard the pleadings of Isaiah and Job’s cries of anguish. They bear the scars of Roman war machines and Crusader swords. They stand tall and proud and boldly announce there is, in fact, some measure of hope in the world.

 

What is your ‘I’ll never forget’ place?

 

Julie Rose

Julieroe601@gmail.com

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