10 February 2016

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Childhood home, Arden, DE

Last May, I took myself and my kids back to my childhood home. It was a long time coming; I'd left 32 years (!!!) earlier and, aside from maybe two brief drive-bys in the 1980s and 1990s, I hadn't been back. I grew up at the edge of the woods, in a modest Craftsman-style home (long before they were fashionable) outside of Wilmington DE,  in the Philadelphia metro area. Northern Delaware is rolling green country, classic 1950s to 1970s suburbs, solid middle-class, still quite welcoming. The little town I grew up in, Arden, is its own green haven of "a different type of folk" as my grandfather used to put it - lots of hippies and free-thinkers in the 1960s when my parents moved there with my toddler brother and baby me. I can't imagine a better place to grow up: open green spaces, deep woods with a creek running through, small-town community life and lots of family events, a community swimming pool and arts program. 
A happy funky Arden abode

Connor and Maggie on the classic playground bobble-horse thingies

And, as you can see here, it has lots of natural beauty along with a splash of quirkiness here and there that has always made the town unique. The couple who bought my childhood home still live there and graciously walked me through it - the first time in 32 years (!!! again!!!) I set foot inside a place I thought I was leaving temporarily when I took my senior year abroad in Belgium - and it felt instantly familiar, thanks both the the "new" owners' care and preservation of the home's lovely, unique details. It was hard not to cry, honestly, especially when my kids exclaimed what I was thinking: "Mama, why on earth did you leave???" I could only reply that I didn't have much choice; I thought I'd be coming back home after a year in Belgium, but my parents moved to Philadelphia while I was gone.

The Arden Green, much the same as I remembered it, blessedly familiar
Even more poignant than walking the wooden floors and grass I'd walked as a child was rambling through the woods where I lived most of my daylight hours, summer and winter. The gentle creek with its hoppable boulders and tall trees and damp, cool quiet harbored me and my soul since my earliest years. Walking back into it I felt almost overcome with a longing and grief I've always known were there but have had to bury because I'd moved so far away. It is all still there. It still quiets my mind and calms me. My kids found it "pretty nice" but commented on the humidity and bugs, and asked when we were going back to my friend's house where we were staying. I accepted the moment of reconnection... and snuck back the next day on my own so I could really enjoy it, and weep without reserve.... and remember.

Naamans Creek, Arden, DE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute to a truly unique place with many beautiful and unique people.