seeing into the past

Sometimes I will go back through my writing to be reminded of previous pieces – both the subject of the writing as well as the emotions those words bring forth. Yesterday I reread a post I had written about my grandfather’s workshop. I paused as a vivid mental picture came to mind, knowing that it is all I have left to look at. The building is no longer there, and to my knowledge we have no photos of it.

Also yesterday, I was talking with my daughter’s friend who is a wonderful photographer. She spoke of one of her favorite services, called Daily Sessions. “These are snapshots taken of the everyday activities and places we have fond memories of, but so rarely have photos to represent them. I love providing those pictures for my clients.” This conversation made me think again of my grandfather’s workshop, and once again I wished to see that place one more time.

Then last night we went with our daughter and son-in-law to view two newly constructed mantles that had been created for their home. The craftsman salvages old wood beams and boards and then designs unique pieces from those treasured resources. His work for them was just what they dreamed of and they were so pleased. As we were leaving he offered to show us some of his other wood pieces and projects in progress, and he took us to a building at the back of his property.

There were the shelves laden with wood and tools and jars of nails, the wood-scrap-covered floor, the single hanging light bulbs, the smell permeating the air: Sawdust smells like wood, of course, and heat, and hands, and sweat. If it is fresh it fills the air, and your nostrils, with its dust, and if it has been there a while, it smells like something settled and content.

Time stood still for me as I walked through that door and I was there again in my granddaddy’s workshop. The dim colors, the closed-in-ness, the shelves so packed you couldn’t see what possibilities were waiting in the back. The lighting, the tools: in particular a drill mounted to the front edge of a workbench. I was quiet and amazed, in awe. My mental picture was brought into focus: settled, and content

I still wish we had pictures of granddaddy’s workshop. And I am so glad my daughter’s friend has the foresight to know how valuable those daily session photos are – and will be. But I am thankful for the restoration and sharpening of my mental images by a chance encounter with a piece of my past.

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