Every grandmother’s house should have a secret spot for children to curl up into. At my grandmother’s house it was behind the shed. There was a narrow space between the shed and the fence. It was not a small space. Just narrow. It felt secret because you could not see it from any other place in the yard unless you were right next to it.
It was the perfect hiding spot. It was one that I am not even sure that I spent a lot of time in. I was not much of an outdoorsy kid. But this spot has left a very strong mark on me.
There was too much shade for grass to grow in the spot. But a thick carpet of moss grew on the ground. Soft and springy. It smelled of earth and dampness. The smell of life.
The human brain is a marvelous thing. It has taken us to the moon and deep into our own planet. It has allowed us to communicate across the world in seconds. Yet the most marvelous thing that it can do is to create these associations that we do not even notice. Not until you have caught a whiff of something and been transported into time can you feel it’s power. This gift that our past selves has created for us.
I am not sure if I went a few decades of not seeing moss or if I was not at the point in my life to need to see it. I remember the first time that I saw a patch of it along the side of my house. I stared at it as I thought of that hiding spot behind the shed. As I felt that feeling come over me that made me realize that I was safe and at home. It makes my house feel like home to me.
Through my recent traipses in the woods, I have seen moss more and more. On every trip I stop and take a photo of it. It makes me yearn for secret spots. I want to curl up into a quiet place in the twilight. With the fireflies dancing around me and the sounds of my brothers playing hide and seek.
I want to walk into my grandmothers house and hug her, just one more time. To be in the presence where I am safe and loved. Completely. Unconditionally. A gift of childhood that is rare and precious. Would I tell her of the stories of the life that I have lived since she died? Would I tell her of the two girls who I both gave part of her name to?
I don’t think so. I would sit at her kitchen table and let her feed me and talk to her about the most random things. I want the simple things in life to continue to feed the feelings of love. I would not want anything to distract me from that feeling again. That freedom of childhood. That certainty of being loved.
I leave the moss alone in my yard. Let it grow where it wants. Hopefully it can be a reminder to my own children that this house is one of love and safety. Or the reminder to me to always fight for that for them. They will find their own reminders.
One day they will walk along and unexpectedly catch a smell of something. They will remember being curled up with me in the chair reading books or the way that it felt when I held their hands.