Just a few weeks ago my yard looked like this. Now all the leaves have fallen, the sun goes down before 5PM, and my furnace has warmed up the house by the time I get home from class. Autumn is my favorite time of year and many people agree with that because of the fall colors and the still-warm days. But, once the cold weather starts, I hear the usual complaints about winter coming and how long it lasts (according to some in Minnesota: 8 months!).
To me it's "cozy time", time to snuggle up with a book and/or my cats, eat hot soup, and relax with some indoor projects. I remember how hard it was to get homework done when the weather was calling me to come outside. That hasn't changed now that I'm in school again. So, I welcome the early sunset and the opportunity to stay inside these last five weeks of Fall Semester. At last count I have 3 papers, 2 quizzes, 2 or 3 smaller assignments and 3 finals left before winter break.
What cultural landscape would you preserve?
The neighborhood where my two brothers and I spent our grade-school years is the landscape I would preserve. In Bloomington, Minnesota, our parents bought a corner lot at 83rd and James Avenue and had a house built. It was a story-and-a-half Cape Cod style, painted in tones of light chocolate and turquoise. That color combination is important because it was never painted any other color while we lived there. A detached garage was built several years later.
The whole neighborhood was our playground, so several blocks in every direction would need to be preserved to show our family history. Our friends lived in houses of similar size and style, not exact replicas of ours. The variety of houses would be a significant feature, showing that the neighborhood was not a development, but was built over time.
One block north was Humboldt Heights Elementary School across 82nd street. At that time our road was not paved and I remember the dust that would settle in the kitchen when the windows were open. There were no sidewalks or alleys. The neighborhood was mostly flat land with various trees in every yard. The only trees that had any significance for us were the tall skinny Lombardys at the back of our lot-line. We did not climb those trees; we shinnied up the street sign on our corner.
Another important feature that would need to be reconstructed (since it was lost decades ago), is a group of houses in an area just behind our grade school. We knew some of the kids who lived in this area, but the houses were smaller and older and it was wilder than our street (more trees and overgrowth). We remember it as somewhat scary, although we don’t believe we were ever told we couldn’t go there.
Tell a story that combines a place, sense, and relationship memory
The house where I grew up was a one-and-a-half story Cape Cod style that my parents had built for our family. When we moved in, my brother and I were pre-school age and we shared one of the two bedrooms on the main floor. Soon after, our youngest brother was born and Dad decided it was time to finish off the second floor so that we could each have our own bedroom. Dad wasn’t a carpenter by trade, but he knew how to use all sorts of tools and had all the handyman skills necessary to put up walls and lay flooring. I remember going to the lumberyard with him on many Saturday mornings, and for years, the smell of fresh-cut wood always evoked visions of those days and of him.
My bedroom had a window under one gable and a sloped ceiling. Dad covered the walls and ceiling with horizontal planks of knotty pine. He let me pick out the linoleum tiles for the floor and I chose pink and black that he laid in the classic checkerboard pattern. The upstairs hallway and my brother’s new room were also tiled, but I have no memory of the color or pattern. There was also a bathroom and a long storage room. While the bathroom and storage room were being framed, there was enough space for my brothers and me to sneak between the two spaces and go exploring. The bathroom had an interior window above the staircase. I’m not sure Dad thought ahead to what three children would do with an open window so conveniently located. We used it for dangling toys down over the steps and bombarding each other with non-lethal objects.
I will always think fondly of my first bedroom that Dad built. For many years, I had plans to finish off a room in my own house with the same materials he used. Our family moved to a new house when I was 12, but the first house still stands. It would surprise me if my old bedroom looked the same, but in my mind, it does