Looking For the Stump

October 8, 2012

It was Caroline Thompson’s stone that we’d wanted to find (see previous blog post) – sort of an afterthought as we walked along.

Downtown, then to Wilmer Park, onto the Rail Trail, back through the college, then over the footbridge and into the cemetery we went – Barbara and I. We didn’t find Caroline’s stone stump among the tombstones, but that was our last stop; it was time to go back home, so we did. Such a luxury to be able to go for a walk in the middle of the day – and an added bonus to be able to go with Barbara, one of my high school classmates. We hadn’t had a plan; we simply walked and talked.

I enjoy listening to Barbara’s tales of teaching high schoolers, and about her current college students needing remedial help. Her McDonald’s analogy of putting in her order for a double cheeseburger but receiving a fish sandwich being like assigning a compare-contrast paper but receiving a cause-effect paper impressed me, but it apparently sailed right over her student’s head. When she had asked him what he thought she’d do when she got the fish sandwich, he’d said, “Eat it anyway?” She’d had to correct him, saying that she would send it back, just like she would have to do with his paper. McDonald’s employees who failed to make corrections would eventually get fired, which was coincidentally a word beginning with “F.” She advised him to heed the wisdom of the burger.

We were on the Rail Trail when we were talking about life stages, which I remembered a couple of hours later when I was sitting on the couch with Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees and reading the first line on the first page, “The Maytrees were young long ago.” We’ll be 60 next year, so yes, I guess we were young long ago, too. Barbara was saying how when her little girl was a baby, she had loved holding her and carrying her around. But when she got bigger, she loved holding her hand and walking beside her, and that she’d had no desire to keep her at her previous stage, but would enjoy the one she was in. I said that it was like that with me, too. Barbara said that she had no desire to be 16 again. Even though she had enjoyed her whole life, she didn’t want to go back. I agreed. It didn’t work so well for Emily in Our Town, and it doesn’t sound like a good idea now. We both love the age that we are today. Our talk turned to childrens’ books, and we were on to the next topic.

Sitting here now, thinking about our walk today, reminds me of a time when David and I were away. It was probably 25 or 30 years ago, and we were in the Shenandoah Valley for a couple of nights, just the two of us. We didn’t have a plan then either, except that we’d wanted to walk along the trail close to where we were staying. And so we did. We simply walked and talked. It was one of our sweetest times away – simple and unhurried, in juxtaposition with our hurry-up life at that time as young parents. It was a real luxury then, too.

Simplicity. Luxury. They really do go together, don’t they?



  1. Barbara Gorrow says:


Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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