Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I have a bare room with a comfortable narrow bed on the ground floor of Terri’s wing. I look out on the field that separates White Wings from Davis Road. Across Davis Road there is another field, and then trees that have been allowed to get so tall they hide the lower two-thirds and part of the upper third of the mountain view. We would come out on this field when we walked with our grandfather Gaga. We would go beneath the sheltering long green pine needles, and over the brown needles on the ground on our way to check the level of the spring water wells that they called “reservoirs,” one actually on the path and one over near the Farm House. The reservoirs, big rectangular cement walled containers that rose above the ground and were protected with what looked like small houses, brown clapboard and roofs of weathered wooden singles. Gaga, with his cane and his floppy sun hat, would look inside and say the water level was getting lower, but I could never see the change. Every summer he said it was becoming an emergency, and ordained that baths at White Pines should not be run more than three inches deep.

Also on that path my twin and I built a wobbly little tree house with the connivance of two local boys. And then when we were into puberty this path was the route Peter and I took to visit Terri in the bright new children’s wing of White Wings.

For a number of years the presence of Terri seemed to change everything here where everything had seemed so set in place. In the years that followed our adolescent summers Terri continued to come to White Wings, this house in which I had spent summers when I was 3 and 4. Her parents spent less time here, but she would come up alone, or with a girlfriend from Grosse Point, as in the summer she had left her the General Motors husband her parents had decided upon for her. By this time she was an adult but still gorgeous and lithe, and by now busy rescuing animals. First a pet sheep who walked beside the pretty girl along Davis Road. Later a rescued cow, and then an amusing little pet pig, and of course rescued dogs.

Looking out towards Davis Road and the mountains from the window of my room now in Terri’s wing, I saw in the near distance what looked like a burgeoning low lying pine tree. I brought out my new pad and drawing pencils and I drew it as accurately as I could.

Terri was up and out before I awoke. I found the phone extension beside the refrigerator and called the number I had gotten from Rob. A woman with a French Canadian accent answered and put Lauryn on the line. “Fred, where are you?” The way Lauryn spoke it seemed like connecting with family the way family should be.

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