When I was a child, there were vast stretches of cleared fields and orchards of fruit trees carefully tended, vegetable gardens and a view all the way down the hilly acres to the Petitcodiac River. It was a century old house, sturdy, comfortable, well cared for, a warm fire and a welcome shared with people we loved. It was our home.
As we grew up, moved away, it was a challenge for my mother to keep it all by herself, so the homestead was sold. The new owners wanted the woodlots, hundreds of acres of them and had a family member who wanted to live in the house.
Plans don't always go the way one expects. Life interferes, forces changes.
Today the grapevine that used to curl a greeting at the back door has grown over the woodshed roof and down onto the ground, five feet into the driveway itself. The cedars, the high-bush cranberries, the lilacs are untrimmed and wild, growing into flagpoles and well covers and porch walls.
Mum's crimson shrubs are overtaken by weeds and golden rod and tall pale grasses. The apple orchard stands up to its shoulders in alders and weeds, is surrounded by deer paths. The oaks are fighting for sky with choking vines. Maples in oranges and reds are visible from the mid point up; the lower portions buried in whatever nature sends to reclaim the lawns and driveways and gardens when humans have left them unloved.
To visit our former home was a shock, made a lump in our throats, an ache in our chests.
Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to go back. Perhaps we should have held the memories and not searched out the reality. But we didn't.
Still, we know, everywhere we've been, all the life we've lived remains within us, deep inside, held in memory. Part of living is moving on; is letting go when the time comes to shed one place for another.
Sometimes looking back is painful because we want someone else to see the beauty and value in a home or a yard or a garden we have lived in and loved. But everyone makes their own choices. We do. We did. The new owners have.
We must let go, simply let go.
Mum and I spent the rest of the afternoon travelling back roads, enjoying the colours of the autumn leaves, acknowledging everything changes.
That lives and homes have their seasons too.