Family stories . . .

Images can capture a lifetime of memories in s single frame. My mother loved her family’s ‘sugar bush’ and she conveyed, onto a canvas, her childhood experience of maple sap collection and its semi-magical rendering into syrup. I think she used a postcard of a late winter scene from a farm near Toronto as her model, but she wanted to render her story for herself and her family. through her painting .

She took the same approach to the significance she felt from a snapshot she made of my father, head down in the doorway of the prairie homestead his family had been forced to abandon in the Dust Bowl of the ’30s when he was a six year old child. The image had a resonance she wanted to convey with a greater depth of feeling than a little snapshot could manage.

I stopped the other day and took a photo of our isolated homestead, high on the North Pennines fellside above Sparty Lea, as a kind of memento of the trees that we’ve planted around the place, the trees that have brought a special vibrancy to our lives here. A placement, as it were, that puts the family home in context. It’s one perspective; the photo our neighbour took of the house in the middle of the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’ is another!

This weekend the family will be here, and we’ll likely share stories both enchanting and harrowing, of the life we’ve lived here in the middle of these open moorlands.

What fun, what joy, to reprise those experiences with family, even as we enjoy new ones in the present.

One response to “Family stories . . .”

  1. Larry, When we were in college if you had told me that one day you were going to be a pioneer of sorts (in NE England of all places) I would have wondered if you were testing my naivete*. I was very trusting of friends. But many years later you are looking back on times of planting trees at Spart Lea for you & those who will now follow. Write on, Henry
    *Attending Messiah Clg. at Temple U in Philly helped take the edge off my naivete.


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