White: “…the grooves which lead back”

“It is strange how much you can remember about places like that once you allow your mind to return into the grooves which lead back. You remember one thing, and that suddenly reminds you of another thing. I guess I remembered clearest of all the early mornings, when the lake was cool and motionless, remembered how the bedroom smelled of the lumber it was made of and of the wet woods whose scent entered through the screen.” – EB White, Once More to the Lake

Great thanks to a fellow participant from my time at the Vermont Studio Center for pushing me towards this essay.

Tonight, I’m remembering hanging sheets on the line on humid sunny mornings. Long-used flat sheets of dull colors and high thread counts hung early in the morning. This was before my parents built the new house, before they separated, before I moved out of the new house and in with Dad in town. It was the summer there were no Monarch butterflies, but you could hear the buzz of cicadas, and the clicks of crickets. Perhaps, I was about 9 or 10. The moisture from the sheets and the moisture in the air left me barely able to breath.

This wasn’t an ideal time and I don’t want to paint it as such, but instead to remember that little flat-roofed wellhouse beside the line that I would “lay out” on to get some sun. The shingles were green, and I’d piled cinder blocks together so I could get up here. This was the late ’80s; it seemed as if nothing important would ever happen here again.


Alison Bergblom Johnson

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