Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Home”

Home Again, Toto


Thomas Wolfe is credited with saying you can’t go home again. Of course there are multiple layers of meaning in that statement. I noticed at least one aspect of meaning, the one where home becomes more of a memory as time goes on, after a recent visit to see family.  I’ve learned that it isn’t always a good idea to revisit former places of our childhood and jotted down my reflections as I walked through old neighborhoods.
A garbage sack mocks the spot where Mom’s potted azalea graced the front step. A gated barrier replaces the hand-carved mahogany doors. Weeds gather in loud conversations supplanting Dad’s meticulous landscape.

The donut shop remains the same odd little shaked chalet busied by Toyotas and BMWs alike. It’s a strange little anachronism among the neon corporate stores surrounding it. As I pass by it a memory flickers on. I remember back to high school. My stern take-no-prisoners-driver’s ed teacher revealed a soft spot one day by instructing me to pull into the donut shop parking lot. She disappears inside and returns with sack of donut holes. No one at school would have believed us. A secret only to be dredged up someday at a reunion possibly.

The town: a grace of upscale suburbia, an old community, struggling to maintain its dignity as its unique shoppes and colonial clapboard frontage succumb to being slowly replaced by box stores and parking lots. The stylish luxury apartments converted into condominiums are showing their wear, much like wrinkles found in a linen skirt mark the evidence of use.

Childhood memories remain, yet become increasingly marred by these yearly trips home. Perhaps it’s true that you can’t really go home again because home is now relegated to the past, then again sometimes home presents itself in a sound bite: the speed boat chop on the lake reminds me of teen summer fun; the smudgy glance into favored memory flashes by as I drivepast an icon building, the steepled church where youth group met ever so long ago. Upscale Neighborhoods slip into weedy shabbiness, stretching sections from nice to nervous when walking through.

A hodge-podge of cultures, a grab bag of mixed socio-economic populace is startling while browsing for dinner ingredients at the local Safeway, and becomes a reminder that going home is a state of flux.

I concur with Dorothy–Kansas, metaphorically speaking, is not the same because it’s changed  and so have I.

Dorothy5 Dorothy, I know how you feel–there’s no place like home. Then again, home is sometimes just a memory or that special place in our heart. (photo:


Badminton, Barbecue, and Baby Birds

The other day we were enjoying the fine summer evening with a mix of badminton, barbeque, and the usual family hi-jinx. We have tried to be courteous and considerate of our new neighbor, especially since it appears she is a single mother with four babies.  The babies make absolutely no sound.  Unheard of.  They patiently wait at home while mom is out getting them food.  We keep an eye on them for her when we can.  Recently, we noticed the babies were about to take that first significant step of independence and leave home.  I know–what? Babies leaving home?  Sorry, I couldn’t help but build up a gotcha.  The mom is a robin who’s built her nest right in the corner of our patio and garage. Silly, silly birdie.  Didn’t she know what a noisy lot we were?  We have been watching with anticipation as the birds went from hatchlings to fluffy bits.

This particular evening I had a feeling the birds were about to head out.  All day long they had been stretching up and airing out their wings and periodically during the day I would check on them.  A countdown began.  Four babies. Three babies. Two babies.  Finally, the one lone baby robin left in the nest.  We encouraged it and cajoled it to head out into the unknown.  It resisted and began pitifully uttering dismal little chirps–they were much too soft to qualify as cheeps.  Some of my family had grown restless waiting for the big moment and wanted to return to the game.  I decided I wanted to actually witness the big moment of baby bird first flight and sat down with my book.

“Forget badminton, will ya,” I stubbornly replied to tauntings to rejoin the game.

“Oh, it will be awhile for it goes.”

“Nope, any minute now.”

More stretchings and wavering pips from the corner nest.

“Hey, maybe it is goin–”

“Look! There it goes!”

“That was really cool!”

With a birdie sigh of “Now or nothing” the last baby flapped its wings and zipwinged it to the pine tree at the edge of the yard.  With shouts of “Hooray!” we congratulated one another on witnessing the positively, absolutely neat event we had just watched.

Witnessing the resolution and trepidation of a baby robin before it determines, “Yup, this is it” is a moment to always remember.  There’s definitely an extended metaphor in here somewhere.  Robert Frost–any commentary, sir?

Update: Mom’s back with a second brood.  I guess we weren’t such bad neighbors after all.  Looks like this batch will be taking off within the next week.  The Flight of the Baby Bird II?

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