Sunday, November 25, 2007

Farewell, my countryside

Ah, my Kentucky. It's a fading memory, chopped down by subdivisions and strip malls. My memories are erased by McMansions and vanishing trees, disappearing meadows, green Kentucky grass paved over by concrete.

I took S to meet the family for Thanksgiving. Of course he knew my mother, father and siblings, but he'd never met my grandmother, various aunts, uncles and cousins. Where are the rolling hills, he wondered. I promised him a detour to where my grandmother used to live, in Anchorage, where she cultivated a quarter-acre garden, hedged by honeysuckle.

I have a lot of fond memories of that house, sitting on the grass watching the incredible stars that you would never see in the city lights of Wilton Manors or Fort Lauderdale. The smell of brewing coffee in the morning, the fried chicken and green beans in the large kitchen where we'd chat as we strung and snapped the beans.

There was the playhouse at the corner of the lot where my aunt, three weeks younger than me, played, dark curly hair where mine was straight and blond, clear green eyes where mine were murky brown, battling weight while I struggled with gauntness. When we were really daring, we'd duck under the barbed wire fence to visit the retaining pond below. We'd go visit Pam at the farmhouse a crop away.

Now a huge house sits where the pond was. The rolling hill beyond seems to have vanished. The farmhouse and the crop are gone and several brick houses are there. Grandma's old clapboard white house seems shrunken and disheveled, no longer shaded by the large elm tree.

The windy Flat Rock Road, which used to twist and turn with the woods, is straight and smooth as it goes by one huge house after another. The old falling down barn is long gone. So is the old general store on Highway 60, or Shelbyville Road that would signal you were nearing the turn.

All gone. Childhood is gone, eaten away by progress.

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