Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Gales of Remember - A Brigid Guest Post

October 17, 2015.

There was a lot of stuff at the crash pad packed away in boxes from when I sold the big sprawling home that was Range #1 as well as things I'd shipped back from Dad's after my brother passed away. I finally had a chance to go through it as it found a new home in the Bungalow with my new husband where space is limited and only things most precious are on display.

There was a storm brewing that night, the wind fierce off of the Great Lake, stirring things in the trees, stirring things in me.

In the bottom of one trunk, I found something among things gleaned from my brother's belongings that I had not had much time to go though. And it brought me to tears - because of this photo which is always on display.  Look carefully to the left and right of my brother to the two little creatures, dressed for the winter.
My Mom was 1/2 Swede and 1/2 Norwegian, so although I think they are actually Danish in origin, we always had trolls around.  In the picture, we're playing out in the snow, and Mom had actually made little coats for the trolls to protect their felt clothing.

How little we knew that one day that well-worn photo would be held by a magnet on an ancient refrigerator, there as the snow fell down like the gift of grace on the frozen ground, there in the days of honor and play, before we knew anything of selfishness, greed and the uncaring faces of forgetful men.
There were just our toys of childhood, the toy soldiers, our trains, our collection of matchbook cars and hot wheels.  And the trolls.

We played with them in quiet solitude, not because we thought others would make fun of us for "playing with dolls" but because they were an outlet for imagination.  They weren't "dolls" - they were Vikings, bigger than all of our other toys, even G.I. Joe standing down in their presence.  Their hair was tangled with the imagined salt of the sea, their countenance a grin in the face of any adversity. They were born, not of a woman or the earth, but by magic and myth. Others might not have understood, so they were our solitude, that was also our saving as Mom grew sicker and the waters grew colder.
I wondered what had happened to them, more than once. They were our companions on bike rides deep into the trails that formed as more subdivisions were built, they were the silent watch on deck as we drifted off to sleep at night, the moon outside bending low into our window as if to look onto our face as we dream of fast ships and high seas.

My brother and I were perhaps unusual compared to many siblings as he was genuinely my best friend, and not just my older brother. We'd play in the yard, in the woods, and even better, at the coast where we had a small cabin, running out by the waves until the sun sank round and blazing into the crest of waves as if they eroded that luminous circle with their power, until only darkness and the sound of the ocean remained. When we weren't playing together we were playing with Craig - his best friend for life, who lived next door to us, a brother not in blood, but in spirit.

He and I  rarely squabbled.  He held me on those rare occasions I cried and he protected me from any neighborhood bully, who knew better to invoke the wrath of a tall redhead who would grow up to be a giant of a man, a gentle giant who handled those things he loved as if made of glass.
We played hard and well, even if in adulthood it was sometimes just a game of pool and a beer, laughing as much as we did as children, throwing fates to the wind and taking no prisoners, even if we had a designated driver. On, or in, my dresser is the matchbox cars, rocks. shells, and other things of childhood.

But I  had forgotten what became of those two trolls, there in that photo.   Not long after those days, as we left childhood, I never saw them again.  Like many things of childhood, they just disappeared. The earth takes some - toy soldiers buried in the yard with full honors.  Others are simply cast off as young adults, not yet realizing how precious those little things are until we reach an age where the earth calls its account for all things we hold dear, taking them away before we are ready.
I lift them out of the box, plucking a strand of dust from the hair of the female troll, blinking in the hazy light.  With them is a smaller troll - one my brother gave me when he went off to sea as a submariner. They rest on a piece of wood cut more than a hundred years ago, the same shade of that gate that Dad built some 60 years ago, in the house that my brother and I grew up in.

They were not Vikings or adventurers, they were simply toys from which our adventures sprung forth, daring days of glory in the heat and the cold.  But rather than be tossed out with the rest of the toys, my brother had carefully put them away for me to find someday among his things that were left to me on his passage.

As I gathered the box to place them back into safekeeping, I blink in the diffused light, as shadows ebb and flow outside the window.  I look out to the East, to the lake and in my mind's eye see a shadowed vessel manned by a redheaded shade, there beyond the horizon, who sends me a wave of greeting as he disappears into a soundless gale.
Someday I will join him, when the splash of the ocean bites into the Sun, when the end of all things earthly comes without furor or whisper, that moment we release ourself to the water and our hearts cease to beat as if an engine stilled.  In that moment, in that perfect moment of immobility, there will be a new adventure awaiting in glory.

But not for now, now is for living and remembering.

The trolls almost seemed to stir there in the play of light, as if remembering all of those days of joy and freedom.  So many memories there - the laughter of a young girl, and the brave shout of a boy, running his plastic warrior up to the top of the hill, where we are stronger than the oceans, Vikings rule, and imagination never dies.

I  carefully put them away, as I raise my hand into the gales of the east and wave goodbye.