I sat on the old wooden bench completely at ease. I knew I couldn’t relive the past, but I also knew this was the one place I could come to get in touch with my childhood. So many things were as they had always been. I could hear the far off sounds of cars racing down the highway towards the quaint little town of Red Lodge, Montana and the closer sound of the river rushing madly through the forest. I could smell the fresh air, sometimes mixed with a smoky smell from a campfire. All around me I could see the labors of my grandfather’s younger years; before he got ill. Directly ahead of me was the big red cabin my grandfather and uncle had spent countless hours improving and adding onto. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the tree house my grandpa had built for my cousins and I a few years back. There were so many memories contained in the little, wooden tree house. My cousin and I would hide out up there for hours on end just talking about any little thing that came to mind. As I sat and thought about how my cousin and I had been best friends when we were little, I heard squirrels chattering behind me as if they were talking to me. I stood up and walked across the soft dirt path, littered with pine needles and stones. I walked towards what my cousin and I had once referred to as Acorn Forest because of all the acorns that littered the ground, but I stopped right outside the boundaries at the large rock shed. I remembered the summer I had helped my grandpa build the shed. I had hauled rocks up and down the long, hilly driveway all day so he could build his shed. I also remembered how I spent hours sitting outside on the steps of the shed once it was finished. I had been trying to get a squirrel to eat a walnut from my hand. I was so close to success so many times and then my little brother would come flying off the cabin’s porch, excited to see the squirrel, and end up scaring it off. The forest brought me back to a time in my life when everything was simple and easy. As I turned back towards the red cabin though I spotted the big, extravagant cabin between the tall trees, off in the distance and was reminded that things were no longer how they used to be. I remembered the fire. I remembered the two people that lost their lives there. I remembered exploring the ruins with my cousin. Now there was no evidence of the fire and the loss. The land was consumed by some music producer’s getaway cabin and baby trees. Seeing that reminded me that everything has changed and life has moved on since my childhood.
March 3, 2010