Sunday, November 02, 2008
Walking With a Camera
When I was a young girl, I had a skirt made of the softest velveteen. It was sewn of squares in different fall colors—russet, mustard, forest green, brown. I loved the way it felt under my fingertips, the way the material shimmered in the light as if the colors were actually sunlit leaves. I wore it as often as fashion sense would allow; when I was 13 those things mattered more than they had at ten.
It’s funny what jogs the memory. Yesterday I was walking along my street past the pond, basking in the fretful sunlight, drinking in the last of the autumn colors—russet, mustard, forest green, brown. I saw that skirt in my mind’s eye as clearly as if it still hung in my closet. It brought back a rush of attendant memories, thoughts of other clothing (oh, that lovely flowered dress with bodice ties of black velvet, the leaf print blouse that looked like a watercolor, the brown dress with tiny balloons embroidered on the collar), of the scent of the leaves I scuffed through while walking to the neighbors’ house to iron (the wife had severe arthritis; her husband loved freshly ironed shirts but was unable to do them up properly himself). Injured during his stay in a concentration camp toward the end of WWII, he regaled me with tales of the war as I starched and ironed his shirts.
I stood stock still for the longest time as one memory after another washed over me. All that from the sight of a few colored leaves. I walked on, the young me, the present me, all of a piece and happy.