Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Back

Re-entry into routine after being away has its own traditions. Catching up on laundry. Going through the mail—both snail and electronic. Remedial attention to cats. Checking out the garden – weeding, looking for raspberries and tomatoes, deadheading pansies and roses. Re-stocking the refrigerator. Getting photos developed. Writing thank you notes. All of this takes time.

During this time, I have begun to sort out where I was and what happened. As usual, so much was packed in to each day away that there was little time to ponder significances.

My photos are back. They are surface reflections of all the worlds I visited. There were so many. This particular journey, more than prior trips, seemed to delineate all the separate worlds within which we move and have our being.

Appropriately, the first was an archeological dig in northwestern Indiana. Conducted by volunteers from the Kankakee Valley Historical Society supervised by Notre Dame anthropology professor Mark Schurr, the dig has been conducted for three weeks a summer for the past eight years. Sifting through debris on a small parcel of land that was never farmed, volunteers and grad students have unearthed artifacts ranging from 8,000-year-old arrowheads to 19th-century coins. This summer, I held pottery shards that were at least 1,000 years old. We never know how many worlds are under our feet.

While in Indiana, I stayed with friends, one of whom has been my friend since September 1959—almost 51 years. She and her husband have created their own world: a house facing a meadow and hugged by a curve of woods. A forest of bird feeders draws a rainbow of feathered creatures performing for whoever is lucky enough to be on their screened-in back porch. Deer, possums, raccoons, and wild turkey wander through the bird feeder clearing where corn is provided next to salt licks. And within the house, the accumulated love and struggles of two people dealing with their respective pasts and futures threatened by the challenges of getting older.

Twenty minutes away, a daughter and her family have created their own world full of gardens and music and all the complications of two adolescents. I am always welcome there; glad to share their vibrant lives and wonderful stories.

From Indiana, I took the South Shore train into Chicago – nearly 3 million in the city and at least 9 million including the surrounding suburbs. And every single one of those millions of people lives in her or his own world, with its own perspectives. I experienced about a half dozen of these – each rich with history and hope. More about those in my next posting.

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