Backseat Memories

road-sun-rays-pathOne of my earliest childhood memories finds me nestled in the back of a wood-paneled station wagon with my brothers and sister, crocheted afghans pulled to our necks, eyes fixed on the ceiling of the car and little padding for our backs. Above us, centered in the beam cast from streetlights and traveling cars, our hand-shadow puppets danced across a stage until the miles found us far from home in the dark. Eventually, sleep would drag us into her arms, leaving our parents to navigate the balance of the drive in the quiet of each other’s company.

The rumbling of rocks and dirt under slow-moving tires signaled that it was time to hoist ourselves from sleep’s grasp so we could catch a glimpse of the trees. They loomed above us, then as fast, disappeared. It seems to me now that it was there, suspended in the minutes before arrival in the hush of the car, that we came to see that all that is sacred is first rooted in peace. I imagine my toddler-self holding her breath the length of that dirt road until the car made its way to the grassy driveway, there, with the journey from Connecticut to Pennsylvania behind it, the V-8 engine was safe to sputter, cough and gasp its way to a rest.

In a rush, we would leap from the car where the scent of fresh cut grass filled us and the tick from the now stilled motor provided percussion for the chorus of humming crickets. In the dark, our dad made his way to the porch where the familiar creak of the screen and sticking to the wood on wood from the shoved-open front door seconds later brought him, and all of us, into the light.

As soon as we crossed the threshold, enthusiasm and restlessness from the journey scattered us through the farmhouse like spilled marbles, the odor of the centuries-old wood walls intoxicating as the cool summer night air.

Our parents, exhausted from the drive, would herd us all up the stairs to the sleeping porch where one by one we took our beds–each focused on swallowing the excitement of having arrived at the farm in exchange for the promise of a song.EFarm

In the glow of the single bulb burning behind him in the hallway, he filled the doorframe. We could just make out his dad-song-gestures, a pantomime of buttoning up his vest and chopping the Douglas Fir, each timed with the words to his trademark singing of the Logger song. Like a quilt, our father’s singing voice spread over us and across to the meadow below, then, with a whisper of night-night, he was gone.

And there, shoulder to shoulder with my siblings, sleep would pull me into her arms again.



  1. says


    Beautiful, nostalgic writing. There is something so comforting about this post. It drowns out the noise and sadness on the planet. It reminds us of the protection of our parents that made us safe inside ourselves. That’s how we become safety nets for our children and for others that we wish to help. Blessings on your family and the person you became. There are always bumps in the road, but this road was a little bit of heaven. Beth
    Beth Havey recently posted…Love Her, Love Her NotMy Profile

  2. says

    Swept away again by your beautiful stories, Elin! I can almost see, feel, and hear your father in the doorway near the end. Masterfully woven tale. Thank you!

  3. Rod says

    The “sacred”, familiar moments that you’ve described so vividly endure in your peaceful writing, Elin, invoking the comforting porch of childhood.

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