When I first started dating my wife, she wanted to introduce me to her family. She did so by bringing me to her annual family picnic. The gathering had been taking place for many years before the likes of me. The family owned a large piece of land with a grassy field cradled in a beautiful setting of trees and fern covered hillsides. Through the years it has been home to many things. Once a mink farm, once a Christmas tree farm. Always a picnic grove for the town residents to rent out for company parties, church socials and family reunions. There have been stags, graduation parties and weddings.
The first time I visited the grove I was a little out of sorts. I didn’t know anyone there and they all seemed a little weary of me. I spent most of the time on its lawn under a small maple tree at the edge of the field. But the grove made me feel at ease. It was a picture perfect Labor day afternoon. Sunny and warm. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that would last for my entire life. That picnic grove would always be a big part of who I would become. Oh and my wife too of course.
Our children would grow up playing in the blades of its grass. I believe a couple of them were even conceived there. We camped under its trees, gathered the family under its pavilion, marked events in our lives with cook outs and clam bakes. Built long-lasting relationships and life long rivalries along opposite sides of its volleyball net. There’s always a special feeling you get whenever you pass the chain which locks its entrance. Decades of celebrations and memories of those no longer with us live within the breeze that blows through the needles of its Pines.
It’s time is falling short these days. It’s been two years since it’s been open to the public. The gardens have browned and faded. Its grass is overgrown and yellowed. The sand that fills the volleyball court has hardened and grass has replaced the gravel within the boccie ball ties. The pavilion over the kitchen fell under the weight of a snow storm, and was never repaired. Cracks and nicks fill the tables and weeds grow wild in the horse shoe pits.
What once was so full of life and laughter, now seems very sad and lonely. Forgotten by those who it once loved. Waiting for its history to be covered over by pavement and homes filled with strangers.
I wonder if you’ll still be able to hear the laughter of the children and the feel the joy of those who gathered in the winds that will blow through those streets.
Its sad when something so special becomes a burden instead of a legacy. When family goes their separate ways and divides into pieces. What should get preserved for generation yet to come, gets left behind for the world to destroy.
I hope our children will hold onto its memory. And tell their children about the joys that it once brought to them. I know I will never forget.