On this particular morning, for some unknown reason, my hand smelled, for a moment, of hemp or jute and cast me unawares into the past where floods of memories drove themselves into my consciousness. I saw, again, the vapid, gray morning of a camp-out when I was in the Boy Scouts, some 33 or 34 years ago. My own morning sky, presently, is equally a semblance of flat gray, bearing none of the corpulence that would portend of a pleasant, wintry, rain-blessed day. My mind’s eye saw that pale morning light and heard the enlivened pinging of metal on metal as someone’s steel-headed mallet or sledge drove into the German earth, several military-surplus tent-pegs that would secure the tightly drawn ropes of our old, burlap tent. Dozens of years, thousands of miles, and an altered landscape try to prevent the tide of memories from renewing their many selves in my mind. Winter-bright bougainvillea leaves and palm fronds waving through my view, and several species of cacti adorning the neighbor’s yard taint my periphery, boldly declaring that the smoke-laced morning and single, crystal drop of snot hanging, yet again, from my chilled and reddened nose are nothing more than rekindled fragments of embedded thoughts from a time that should be cherished as a carefree childhood.
I would go back there to find that lost someone who might answer the unknown questions I have of myself. I’d like to talk to the little boy I was then and ask him to remember the thoughts that I can’t seem to locate now. For, you see, I don’t remember thinking, really, not back then when I was 12 or 13 years-old. I only have a few ragged recollections of thoughts that may have been mine back then. For example, I can remember thinking that I would never make it to the age of 18 – I had this thought when I was about six. Anyway, I would like to walk, hand in hand, along the dirt roadway with that little-boy-self of mine, on that particular morning, noticing the dull, pewter-shaded cords of weathered, pine logs that some woodsman and taken such care to sort and stack, and ask him, that little boy, to remember for me. Yes, still capture to thought the lonely, wayward peal of a church-bell that found it’s way down the country lanes and over the varied hills into our desolate campground causing our little group of boys to pause a moment and look for it’s source; and, yes, still lay to mind the rich earthy smell of my dirtied, blue-jeaned knees as I rest my chin upon one of them as I re-tie my worn-out, black, Converse tennis-shoe while I think that I’ll have to run to catch-up with my friends who are so far ahead of me on the forest path in search of large, yet tow-able, pieces of fire-wood; yes, keep these recollections there, but give me some thoughts too. Give me something to look back upon when I see, in my mind’s eye, my father, grumbling around the tent in the morning, complaining about the ground being so uneven and the miserable night he had sleeping out-of-doors in a tent – with the happy sounds of young boys joking, laughing, and whispering in the cold air as the dying fire crackled against the night – tell me what you were thinking that morning as you listened to him, as you saw his lumbering bulk move about the campground, as you noticed the adult-coffee smell in the chill, waking light – what thoughts did you possess – what thoughts possessed you? Did you even think? Was your survivor’s mind even able to go to those realms?
Anyway, that’s what I would like to do . . .