“Pam can I play with you?” My sister turned and looked at me, gave me no reply, then turned her back to me and kept playing and talking to her imaginary friends. I did not get it as a kid. I always wondered why she would rather play with her imaginary friends than with her big brother. As a young teen, I figured it was to get away from my pesky irritating self. In my twenties, I still did not get it. In my thirties, I admired her for the ability to entertain herself and have alone time (getting away from her irritating brother). Now in middle age, I totally get it!! Peace with oneself and being in your own world is bliss.
This all hit me today as I was walking down the ‘Old County Road’ located on my Mom’s property in the Western Foothills of Maine. I have walked that road, the brook, and the surrounding woods my entire life. Spent hours as a young boy looking for buried treasure, trapping rabbits, hunting squirrels, fishing for brookies, building forts, tree houses, and just plain ol’ investigating. Sometimes with my friends, neighbors, sisters, but mostly by myself.
I went out walking this afternoon to see if ‘Betsy’ was still around. ‘Betsy’ is a rusted old car who is strewn all over the banks of the brook down past the house. I have touched her, talked to her, wondered who drove her, how old she was, if the person driving walked away from the wreck unscathed, who the family was that she belonged to. She is still mostly in the same spot. Some of her is farther on down the brook now and scattered in different places. Today I decided to immortalize her in photographs. As I was talking to her and looking around at her body, I saw a metal rectangle piece sticking out of the dirt that I had never recalled seeing before. I am sure years of flooding, snow, and ice have eroded the banks of the brook. I noticed more pieces of this beauty were more exposed than in the past. I inched towards the rusted rectangle and as I got within reach, I realized it was ‘Betsy’s’ identity, her License Plate!!! Goose bumps formed as I reached for “X-32112” born in 1930. WOW!!! I became so excited over this find that I just started talking to her and then it hit me: This was what my sister was all about as a kid ‘imagination in one’s own space’. I sat down on a rock and just let my mind be free with no thought. Slowly I became aware of the running water hitting the rocks, the birds chirping, and the pesky mosquitos buzzing around my head!
I then thought about all my friends through the years that I had named and wondered about them. There is ‘Slim’… the bridge that allowed ‘Betsy’ to cross over the brook with safety. There are ‘The Ladies’… the pink and white Lady Slippers that I have photographed for years and have always gone down to see. Then there are ‘The Jack Brothers’… The oodles of Jack-in-the-Pulpits that run along the Old County Road and in the wet areas around the brook. All my friends, all I have talked to, and all I have enjoyed photographing, and all I have enjoyed seeing year after year.
These friends have always been there, they have always given me moments of joy, and today they brought me full circle. They brought me to a pure peace of mind. Given me a world to come and go as I please. To get away from the busy and hectic life I live at times. They have always given me a world where I can let my imagination run wild and free. They are my ‘buried treasure’ and they are alive an well.
I know now that ‘Betsy’ and ‘Slim’ are at least 86 years old (1930’s plate). ‘Slim’ could be older as the house I grew up in was built in 1895 and horse-n-buggy had to have a road. ‘The Ladies’ and ‘The Jack Brothers’, not sure of their age but my imagination will let that one play on and on. Does not really matter with any of this as ‘It’s My Imagination’.
Cheers — Drew Frederic