This Old Place

My little acre of land is lined on three sides by hundreds of jonquils. I did not plant them. They were here when Jim and I bought this place. I don’t know who turned the earth and planted the bulbs, but I’ve enjoyed them every spring for over half my life.

In today’s newspaper I read a piece about spotting old home places this time of year by the jonquils that still bloom in what was once someone’s front yard. For years as we drove on the back roads to Neosho to visit our folks, I noticed patches of bulb plants or roses gone wild, marking what was once a place where people went about their daily lives, living through short days of joys and long days of sorrows.

“There used to be a house there,” I’d tell the boys who bobbed in the backseat. “Maybe a hundred years ago.”

“How old are you?” one of the wise guys would ask. I get that they have always thought I was old. That’s natural. (I always thought my folks were old, even though Mom was in her late 30s when my sister married and in her late 40s when I married. But as usual, I digress.)

Also in today’s newspaper I read about author Max McCoy’s journey from the Colorado headwaters of the Arkansas River to near the Oklahoma line. He wrote a book about realizing the changes in the river’s course and how it reflected the changes in his own life. He wrote of finding himself.

I’ve been on a similar quest.

Change is a part of living, but lately I’ve had a hard time accepting changes I didn’t want. A friend wrote me, “I used to fear change until I realized that it’s just a sign of life’s progression. The worst thing I can imagine would be an absence of change, like stagnant water.”

Okay, I don’t want to be in a torpid pool, but I’m fighting change. Currently I’m removing wax on a worn-out linoleum floor downstairs. I’m filling the gouges and gaps with Rock Hard and painting them to match the gold and beige design. Then I’m waxing it again. I’ve always loved that golden floor, and now I’m restoring it in my own way. A waste of good time? Perhaps. Probably. But working an hour a day on this mindless chore lets me think. It’s not the same as kayaking down a river, watching the shore glide by, but for this moment it’s my way.

The next people who live in this house will replace that original flooring that to me glows with golden hues. That choice is theirs to make in my house that has stood here these 60+ years.

What will stay will be the jonquils, marking life’s passage into another season. And in another 60 years if this house is gone, the flowers will mark a place that once was home to boys playing in the back yard, boys who have grown up into fine men and a crazy woman spot painting old linoleum in the laundry room.

PS. Max McCoy moved into the house that Jim and I once owned in a Kansas town. I didn’t meet him until he’d left that house, but he had to admire the bushes and trees we planted there. Last year I drove by that house, and the trees that were mere sticks now reach the roof line of the two-story house. Change is everywhere around us.