Back in North Park after a few years, I am most surprised by the sound of the wind. On this hillside, looking south towards Elk Mountain some 30 miles away, the ferocious whipping noise contrasts with the stillness and spectacle of the view. Aside from tree leaves rippling in the aspen grove below the deck, the only other hint of motion is the bugs and hummingbirds that flit past. And yet the wind is unrelenting, pushing ever eastward towards Cameron and Clark peaks.
It’s been a long time since I first sat here. Many things have changed. There’s internet, for one. And cell service. And so I write between work calls. What once was a sanctuary is now just another outpost in our ability to work from anywhere. In some ways I miss the old land line and dial up connection. In some ways I’m glad to be able to work while the rest of the family plays, rather than having to stay behind in town. Mostly I’m glad to watch our daughter rumble around a new location, learning and exploring and banging rocks together.
We’ve told her, since restarting travel when she was two months old, that if she’s good on these trips we’ll return when she’s old enough to remember. It’s both absurd and true, promises we intend to keep. And yet I am realizing she already does remember. She remembered her grandparents house on the second visit just days after the first. She remembers things, now, at a year old. Places. Where the rocks are kept. Where the fruit basket is. Small things, surely, and probably not forever, but is that the point?
In many ways we travel to keep ourselves in the world. To keep ourselves part of people’s lives, and our own lives connected to the places we grew up, the people we grew up with. There are a lot of repeated loops, like to this cabin in the hills of North Park. These return trips are what bind us to the place, what makes each memory more real, layered on so many others. I remember proofreading my novel here alone, at the counter, in the summer of 2009. I remember napping on the sofa here with our cat, long ago when he would join us on the flight from San Francisco. I remember shoveling snow, chasing dogs, and running through the brush to the lake. Years go by and each new visit is built on top of those earlier ones. The next time we’re here I’m sure 5’s will be able to walk. I’ll try to remember these windy days and crawling moments, then. To have and to compare, as part of the palimpsest, uncovered in an unknown future, in odd moments or familiar light.