I used to walk the lane.
It was as familiar to me as my own thoughts.
I knew where the holes were that had rough stones sticking out that made me always question why tires didn’t go flat. I knew where we had patched holes that had grown large enough to appear like small ponds. We first used concrete forms someone had given my dad. Later we tried to fill those larger holes with bricks. Even now, if you did far enough down, you will come across those bricks. Bricks that used to be part of a chimney. I knew where the raspberries grew along the side of the lane. Just the one side. And I knew where the hidden breaks in the briars and overgrowth were. The hidden entrance to the paths that led you to the field of trees. By dodging along the winding path you could make your way from being visible to invisible. And without knowing it, I watched that field of trees grow into ‘the woods’.
I walked the lane. Alone. Often times though, not alone at all. My imagination would bring along my grandparents, my greats, and great greats-and further past greats. I would imagine the high top black shoes of a century ago as they crunched along this lane. There were sometimes the heavier boot of the working man that would be a great great grandfather or great great great uncle. Or the bare feet of any of those generations as they tripped about on warm spring or hot summer days. Their view was likely different, yet eerily similar, as mine. I walked with any of them during their childhood, or their adulthood, all depending on where my mind was when I was imagining them.
Where were they walking to? Or from?
I was walking to the little old store at the top of the lane. And though the store was old it wasn’t as old as when these people I imagined-walked without me.
I may have been walking to get away from squawking siblings. Did they? I may have been walking to visit a friend who once I reached the top of the lane, I turned right or cut through the field and went down the road. Or I might walk past that and walk to the old school house. And how many times did the young ones walk this lane to get to the school house. Did it seem like a longer walk to them, then? Did they drudge up and down that lane dreading school? Or anticipating the new things they might learn in that one room school house.
Did they walk to meet friends? Most of the homes I saw were not there when this lane was first begun to be walked upon. Did they walk to gatherings of neighbors to celebrate events? Did they walk to that little cemetery if a neighbor or friend died? Though they never walked there to bury a relative, they’re all in church cemeteries. Did they walk to the far away town? Or were there closer establishments long ago lost to time? Did they walk to work or was work always here, on the farm.
As old and worn out as that lane was I know they traveled it. And traveled it well. I know from receipts they left behind that they traveled it long before the invention of automobiles. I know they traveled to even farther away towns for important farm supplies. This lane saw their travels to and from by horse, by wagon, and later by automobile.
How many travels were started there, on that lane. Could they ever have imagined a world like we have now? While they walked that lane. Like I think of their world, then.
I can still see the rocks. The bricks. The branches of the trees all along the side. The berries and briars.
I’ll walk it again, in my thoughts.
It will always be familiar and full of imagination.