I have a perfect house in my memory. I suspect I came by it the same way my parents did theirs, and most people do. It is the mythological house of the perfect childhood, where a perpetual summer prevails in memory, that somehow outweighs the loneliness and fear of being imperfectly parented, or childhood injuries, or any other fate a child must endure. Mine is a lovely candidate for the Platonic perfection of a house. It sat on a great stretch of lawn, and was surrounded by trees, and looked out on the lake. In my memory green is the prevailing colour, a rustling silence the prevailing sound, and golden grass the prevailing smell.
When my parents came to Canada, it was the first house my mother bought after some years of living in company housing provided through my father’s work as a geologist. It is the house we moved to when I was three and I lived in until I was five. That is the age at which we come into consciousness in a way, when the place we live is the world we begin to explore, that indelibly writes itself into our hearts and minds. I suspect that it attained greater power over my imagination because I was snatched away into a peripatetic existence, travelling up and down the continent, and I can remember always thinking; always being told, one day we will stop moving, one day we will go back there.
We never did. In the end they sold that house, much to my mother’s chagrin and disappointment. I can say that in some way she never recovered from the loss of it. They bought and sold several others along the way, but the loss of that house wormed its way into my imagination as part of the history and mythology of my family.
Now, though, I have gone back. It is Lane’s house, and it will come to life again every time her books are opened.
A special thanks to my husband Terry Miller for the beautiful images in this blog.