Has another month really gone by?
Since Emilie’s birthday on September 5th, I’ve attended to family affairs. Chief among these were the burial of my sister’s ashes and attendance at the gorgeous, lakeside wedding of her daughter.
At our family’s lake house, fall means picking apples, storing boats for winter, and “fall cleaning”–the version of “spring cleaning” that people in northern climes know to do before winter’s darkness closes in.
Alone in the evenings, I pored through trunks of old photos and memorabilia. What treasures!!!
Having traveled for ten of the last twelve months, I felt the satisfaction of accomplishment. I also felt a need to slow down a moment and catch up with myself before the next challenges come.
Into the water I pushed my kayak, usually the start of a vigorous paddle from lake to lake. This time, I took my time, meandered to the next lake over, and paused.
With my paddle across my lap, I allowed the boat to bob and drift. Benches and chairs on people’s docks seemed oddly comforting–places of rest in a beautiful place, ready for the sitting.
Now she craved time to think, to recollect herself–she had seen that phrase somewhere lately and liked it. Recollect oneself. It meant so much.A Certain Crossroad
“Recollect,” as in, to remember. And “Re – collect,” in the sense of gathering oneself together again.
She closed her eyes and sleepily drifted into the past. She was in her grandmother’s living room. A mirrored wall reflected the Burgundy-rose hangings, Louis XV chairs covered with petit point and two consoles, each topped with a porcelain bowl filled with pink tulips. From the long window she looked out at the Basin. It was the time of day she loved. A blue sky turning pink and violet beyond the Technology Buildings, an east wind rippling the green water into meringue-topped wavelets, the slanting sun turning windows to plates of gold.Beyond the Sound of Guns
We remember those whom we have lost, and, if we are lucky enough to have them, memorized songs, poems, and passages return to revitalize us.
“Memory stores are wonderful props in time of worry and anxiety.”The Mother in the Home
It doesn’t have to be deep, only familiar.
“Oranges and lemons sing the bells of St. Clemens” The words her father had taught her when she was a little girl hummed rhythmically through her memory. He had loved to hear her chant them. And that other song, “When I grow rich ring the bells of Shoreditch. When I grow—“High of Heart
Emilie’s father was a prolific writer whose plays were laced with original bits of wisdom and quotes from others:
Keep a stiff upper lip, and never say die.
Do all the good work you can with your money, but … never let it appear in the newspapers.
“Where ignorance is bliss, ’twere folly to be wise.”
Emilie’s quotes were often little pick-me-ups for characters in a spot of trouble:
“Do you remember that line of Petruchio’s? ‘Little fires grow great with little wind.'”A Certain Crossroad
He could fit an appropriate line or two of verse to any situation. She took down a volume of Milton. The book opened as if from habit at a page in Comus. Had her brother marked the lines:
Which erring men call chance.”Hilltops Clear
“Nothing so strong as gentleness. Nothing so gentle as real strength.” Her grandmother’s favorite quote from Saint Francis de Sales echoed through her mind.Keepers of the Faith
She strengthened her morale by repeating to herself a bit from a Thomas Burke novel she had memorized to use as a prod on just such an occasion as the present. “Life is a one-way road and once you’ve got on a particular road the law says, keep straight on. And you’ve got to, whether you want to go that way or not.”As Long As I Live
Did you memorize something as a child that you remember and enjoy now? My children learned stanzas of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” to earn snacks at the swimming pool, and I feel sure they know them still. As challenge has piled upon challenge this year, the last line has come to me more than once:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep–and miles to go before I sleepRobert Frost
Do you have a favorite quote from an Emilie Loring novel that occurs to you without having a book in your hand?
In these COVID times, I return to these:
“Leg over leg, the dog went to Dover.”
“The beautiful things in life are just as real…”
I’m home again and back on the job. Four generations will arrive soon to fill this quiet house. I can’t wait for my mom to meet her great-granddaughter!
Happy landings, everyone!