When I moved into my house here, I was delighted with it. Finally enough room for everyone to spread out a little. We had been living in an apartment and were over sharing our common spaces and all of our activities. Agreeing on a TV program had become an exercise in negotiations even the United Nations would have been proud to sponsor. My entire family was happy with their individual spaces in the house. There was only one problem, the deck accessed through our back door. A common space leading to our back yard.
Our first evening on the deck made us realize that we were the highest point in the neighborhood. We could survey all around us, wave to our neighbors, help them locate their pool toys in the bushes, and share in their conversations. We were Shakespeare on South Street. We are private people and would appreciate the feeling of seclusion that we assumed our privacy fence would give us. The porch elevation cancelled the privacy fence.
So we tore the deck off the house and proceeded to replace it. We found a man who had inherited a field of salvaged bricks who was interested in having his field cleared. We spent the next summer with teenage son and friends, and friends of friends. One day the house was even filled with percussion students as they flowed in and out of the summer project. We picked up bricks from the field and transferred them to a bed of sand and gravel that we laid out. It was hot work, but passed quickly. We listened to the latest music, joking and singing. They were wonderful companions for the project. Teenagers are the world’s truly untapped resource if you can catch them with a little extra time. They are hard-working and creative. They laid a patio and a sidewalk.
The old bricks have a wonderful patina. I walk on bricks from the past, salvaged from several locations not far from my house. They are all colors and they are blended into a design that pleases and comforts as they share my space. There are memories of the laughter and the music we shared during that summer’s project. I know the project wouldn’t have been the same with brand new bricks. For one thing, the new bricks wouldn’t invoke names like Coffeyville, and St. Louis. I love having a piece of the past with me as I sit in the mornings with my coffee.
We should all try to bring more of the past with us. Our past is a river of all we have shared and hoped. Gathering together little bits of those things preceding us keeps us focused on what is important about how we live. In addition to the knowledge of who we are, we should keep with us things that are reminders of how we must look for ways to solve our problems without always consuming new resources. The past is out there for us to find and reclaim, one brick at a time. It offers us many resources that we are currently ignoring. The environment calls to us. We need more creative solutions. Let’s preserve what is worth saving.
Mary Kincaid is a writer and a possible blogger. While deciding if the blogging life is for her, she submitted this post to get her blogging feet wet among friends. Let’s show her some love and let her know how great of an outlet blogging is.