October 04, 2010

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My parents, on a mountain trail

I go to the mountains with my parents every fall. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts, to visit the place where my Dad spent his summers when he was a young man, working as a musician at the summer resorts. The mountains hold memories for me as well: we camped there often when I was small, and I camped there later with my own kids. I used to visit the mountains with Kindergarten Friend’s family too, and every year, we stop at her camp to take a photo.

I’m not someone who likes change, and I like the familiar routine of things that stay the same. The mountains, rising to hug each lake, look the same every year, covered with trees and jutting rocks. We stopped at the restaurant built in an old train station, and the same man stepped out of the kitchen to greet us; he cooked our lunch last year, and the year before that. The old mountain inn where we spent the night looked just the same too, with the big stone fireplace in the main room, the dining room with its windows overlooking the lake, and the wavy floors in the hallways that are so buckled that I feel kind of drunk when I walk across them.

Of course, some things change. The towns have grown since my childhood, with the mountains getting more developed all the time. The state forests might be forever wild, but the houses and camps on the private land seem to be forever getting bigger. My father’s stories don’t change — I know most of them by heart — but he’s 79 now, so he’s changing, getting older all the time. More than anything, though, when I visit the same place every year, I notice the changes in myself: I’m 49 now, and my kids are almost all grown up. When we took a walk near the place where I used to camp with the kids when they were little, I found myself wondering how long it will be before I come to the mountains with grandchildren and tell them my father’s stories.

Ripples

5 comments:

jo(e) said...

That's my mother and father in the top photo.

Anonymous said...

None of us like getting older, but you are so fortunate to have the continuity that you write of.
As always, thank you for your thoughts.
ChrisPr

michael444 said...

You have a very nice approach to getting older. And a great gift writing about it.
Like it very much.
Michael

Sandy said...

I love seeing the fall pics!

BrightenedBoy said...

It's hard to believe that you're only forty-nine; you seem so wise.

You're going to be an awesome grandmother one of these days.

You're also very lucky to have not just a home, but a homeland. I moved around a lot from a young age, and I don't really feel particularly anchored to anywhere. Even here in Mountain Town, where I've been for five years, I can't shake the sentiment that I am something of an outsider.