Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Carousel of Time

The Carousel of Time

The Songwriter belongs to a unique club, one whose membership seems to dwindle with each passing year. You see, he is one of the few people who actually still resides in the neighbourhood into which he was born. On our daily walks with Edward and Apple, he is traversing the same streets he ran down as a boy. He passes by his family home nearly every day. Even the trees are old friends. To the now elderly neighbours who knew him as a youngster, he will always remain precisely that. He will never age a moment from that afternoon in the sixties when he and his best friend blasted Beatle songs from the rooftop of his house for all the world to hear.

To be sure, there are pros and cons for this deeply rooted existence. Sometimes the changes, inevitable though they may be, can be painful. A couple of years ago, Mrs. Pennington’s house was torn down. Hidden for years within an tangled thicket of trees and brush, no doubt few of our neighbours even knew it was there. Mrs. Pennington herself, nudged by her age, had moved out some time ago. But she’d lived there as long as The Songwriter could remember and we hated to see her go. A highly respected artist and historian, Mrs. Pennington could be counted upon to pass by our cottage at sunset each day on her arm-swinging constitutional - braless, and sporting a well-loved Che Guevara t’shirt. An arresting sight I can tell you, and one that I miss even today. It’s sad to see these old characters depart and no doubt we feel it more sharply the longer we’ve known them.

But if Joni Mitchell is correct, and who am I to question Joni, we are all on a carousel ride through time - able to occasionally look back, but never return. And happily, we keep picking up new riders all the time. So, on balance, I would have to recommend a life with such deep connections. They can, after all, provide a sweet comfort.
When it’s Springtime, we know to head over to The Melton’s azalea garden for the Easter Egg Hunt. At Christmas, Wayne and Brian’s house will be the most charming, with the vintage Santa smiling down from the eaves. We look to Cecil for sunflowers in summer and we smile every afternoon at one-year old Walter who sits with his nanny, waving at passersby from atop his newly built garden wall.

And on a cool evening late last week, I baked a cake, tied it up with a lavish pink bow and The Songwriter and I carried it up the familiar driveway of his childhood home, climbing the front stairs, knocking on the familiar white door. For several years now, there has been a new couple living here. The Songwriter stopped by to welcome them on the afternoon they moved in. Warm, charming, and oh-so-young, they have just had their first child - Emily Cait, the very first baby in this house since The Songwriter himself.
Was yours the bedroom on the back of the house?”, the new mother asked.
Yes. It was”, came the reply.
Oh, good! That’s Emily Cait’s!”, she said, grinning wide.

The four of us looked down at the tiny creature, dressed all in pink.
The carousel’s spinning.
And we smile.


  1. wonderful post Pamela . you paint the most wonderful word pictures:)

  2. Oh, this is so nice. I cannot even imagine having ties like that; I moved every two years for the first 13 years of my life. Then settled in one spot and have now moved 4 times in the last 10 years. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, close family, and my few friends from college.

  3. Always poignant, Pamela. At 58 years, I find myself saying goodbye to so, so many people and places and with each goodbye, the sadness deepens. Although I remain in the same town, I do not reside in the same neighborhood of my childhood. Today, I was at my childhood home to check on things as the house will soon be sold and I actually walked down the hall with arms outstretched to physically touch the walls because pretty soon they will become a memory. Needless to say, your post has plucked my heartstrings as they so often do.

  4. A lovely post, Pamela, and one I find particularly poignant as I mark time passing and the circle starting once again with our great grandchildren - the life ahead of them exceeds my imagination, as I'm sure the life we have lived exceeded our parent's expectations. But it will hopefully all be a wonderful carousel ride!

  5. Oh Pamela, such a moving post. The Songwriter reminds me of my eldest brother, who lives on our old farm in Ireland, where he was born and, like the Songwriter has his life entwined with all the local characters. What is coincidental he gifted me with a Joanie Mitchell album, just 3 weeks ago. I saw Joanie Mitchell in a coffee shop in Toronto in the early 1970's...she has such an incredible voice

    Helen xx

  6. California is not home and never will be...people come and go. I lived in Venice for 30 years and only know about 3 people who are still there...I long for a life like the Songwriter...with its connections....i have nothing like that here and I feel so lonely at times.

  7. Pamela it is these roots that brought me back to Kansas City from San Diego. It is good to be here, back home.

    Your words and images always inspire me beyond!


    Art by Karena

  8. I always wanted to lived in one place and stay there. Because we moved fairly frequently when I was a kid, I told myself when I was grown I would never move again. It only was partly true. I have never lived in one place for more than about a dozen years and then we move yet again. Living in one town, small enough to know "everyone" and be a real part of a community would have been nirvana to me.

  9. Oh Pamela, how you and Edward continue to touch my heart. Life, the experience of it, what makes it, both the bitter and the sweet, worth living is authentic, connected community ("I could drink a quart of you and still be on my feet" a possible misquote--'quart' or ''draft'?--but Joni who is golden). I have been in the same apartment here in NYC USA forty two years, and still remember those who came and went over the decades, often longing for them, for the way it was when it was so much more a community than simply real estate bought and sold. Your sensibilities comfort this aging traveler by way of the electronic community we share. So, cheers to you neighbor.

  10. Sweet and so nicely written, as always. I love the image of the elderly Mrs. Pennington in her Che Guevara t-shirt.

    I have returned to the neighborhood I grew up in, and have a small sense of the Songwriter's attachment to the place he was born.


  11. Pamela, this is beautifully written. I was moved at the image of the new baby in that special room filled with memories. It is lovely to reside in a neighborhood filled with one's own past. So many of us live far away from our origins and we have to rely on hazy memories. Joni Mitchell is always a good source for wisdom about life.

  12. Oh, such a sweet story...I'm all smiles :)

  13. The farmer belongs to that club too Pamela - and I agree with you that there are advantages and disadvantages. Until I cam along eighteen years ago he had never been further than our nearest town - but now he has been all over the world. Yes, I have certainly widened his horizons, but converseley I envy him his roots. Lovely post - beautifully written.

  14. i grew up like a leaf blowing in the wind.
    because of my father's job we moved every year. do you remember the song "ramblin' rose?"
    oddly enough my mother had grown up in a new england town where her own mother had grown up.
    then she married a texan and her life was never the same!
    i've lived in my house now for 13 yrs... a lifetime to me!
    thank you for another touchingly beautiful post.
    tammy j

  15. so difficult to find anything original in your comment box, because it just always has to be said "you ... write ... so ... well !"
    I've never really worked out why it is difficult to let go of the familiar, even when we have a bright future to look forward to.
    Thank you for your beautiful post and for the song by Joni


  16. oops! sorry, that was meant to start "so difficult to find anything original TO WRITE in your comment box" je m'excuse!

  17. I only moved once as a child - and that was within the same town. THEN, at almost 19, I became adventuresome and I made the big move - across the pond here to the USA! At least I only have one place to call home back in the ' olde country' and of course visit whenever possible.

    Must be awesome still living in one's home town and knowing the families who have stayed so long. Lovely story Pamela - especially taking the cake to Emily Cait and family.

  18. My husband and I still live in the neighborhood we grew up in. I just came in from a walk where I passed by his old home, a Craftsman bungalow that has now been totally refurbished by an energetic young couple who bought it after my mother-in-law passed away. The house is now filled with the sounds of two rambunctious boys, which would make my mother-in-law very happy. As the mother of three sons, she was always partial to little boys. Our own sons grew up being able to walk to their grandparents' houses, a rarity we recognized even then. Now my grandson lives three hours away, not too bad a distance I hear from other parents whose children live on opposite coasts or even other countries. Still, it's not the same. There can be disadvantages, as you said, living in your hometown; a feeling that you're rooted in an identity that determines how people categorize you. For many years I wanted to escape, but jobs and family kept us here. Now we have a second home in the beautiful North Carolina mountains and we plan on retiring there soon (we hope). But it will be very hard to leave my home of twenty-three years and our lovely old and familiar neighborhood. Our closest friends no longer live here and our parents have passed away. My sentimental elder son never wants us to sell the house - he always wants to be able to come home to the house of his adolescence. But the more we talk of the mountains, the more he mentions the idea of a family compound. He knows that wherever we are, we're family. And thanks for the music; Joni's the best!

  19. Again you capture what many of us have experienced or can relate to: I know many people who stayed in the small town where I grew up, went to college, and then moved back again to raise their children there. Also, there are many who settled there in the 1900's and never left. I was not one of them but was there the first 18 years of my life. I am glad now that I left or I never would have broadened my horizons so much, I don't think. The baby story makes me cry.

  20. I love the way you tell a story.
    My Daughter always sang Joni Songs. I know the words to this as my Renee sang it all the time.
    Love to you Pamela.

  21. The Circle Game is one of my favorite songs from my childhood, and it’s a perfect musical accompaniment for this post. I wil play this track to my daughter, who is learning guitar. How cool about the songwriter staying in his hometown. I’ve traveled far from NYC to settle in small town Maine, but it feels like home after 14 years of watching my babies grow into teenagers. What a lovely post!

    Speaking of cute babies, Scout has her first puppy class tonight. The circle goes on with dogs.

  22. Such a sweet post Pamela, a connection such as this to a neighborhood is a rare blessing indeed, and tugs at the heart.
    We had a very long and nostalgic ride on the carousel this week as our 'little' 18 year old surrogate daughter from across the street, went off to live her new life in another state this weekend (when if she cared anything for us at all, she would have just stayed three, maybe six, happily baking and playing jewelry store at our house forever!), and we've been awash in memories and unable to look across the street at her house without turning to puddles. If only the carousel could somehow be stopped once in a while...even for a moment.
    xo J~

  23. What a beautiful post Pamela with such lovely sentiments.
    I love Mrs Pennington and hope that I shall be like her in my 80's( not that far away !!!! haha)
    ....and, it must be so lovely for the songwriter to see his childhood home making a new home for another family. It's good to see it evolving and life carrying on as it should. XXXX

  24. You find the most wonderful pictures for your blog!

  25. Mrs Pennigton sounds lovely! I still live just 15 minutes from my childhood home, shop in the same streets as I did when I was a child. And I love it.:-)

    Oh, I wish I could visit my childhood room, but I think it would be too sad to see everything changed. I'm afraid I don't deal well with change. I'll try to get that carousel image into my head.

  26. Your story is heart warming on how songwriters come and fade away but leaving in their memories beautiful music. Nice read!

    J. Harp
    writer Murano Chandeliers


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