Saturday, September 10, 2016

Anne McAllister: The Lost Summer

The author as essayist. Not.
What I did on my summer vacation . . .

What vacation?  We moved!

Yes, I know, people move all the time. We live in a mobile society.  And I'm not averse to that. I like to move around, go places, travel.  But for the last forty-plus years, while I did my share of moving around, going places and traveling, I always came back home to the same house.

And now . .  .not.

I knew for over a year that we were going to up sticks and head out to Montana full-time. But when you know something that long, it never seems quite real. I mean, when do you start packing for a move that's light years away?

Not soon enough. I have learned that much.  And after those forty-plus years in the same house, we had accumulated a lot of stuff.  It just built up, like sedimentary rock, and about as movable.

The living room in May; we moved in July
There were stalagmites in the attic of stuff kids did in elementary school and junior high and high school and college that came home and never somehow went away. There were the boxes that came to me when my grandfather died and when my grandmother on the other side of the family passed away.  Then my mother-in-law died leaving us with three sets of china, two sets of silverware, a bookshelf of diaries (bless her) and 97 years worth of paintings that we needed to deal with (moral of the story: if you marry the son of an artist, be prepared to have a lot of canvases and, even heavier, Masonite, to move).
My mother (and bless her, too) lived a spare and uncluttered life. Her china went to our daughter, she only left one set of silverware and one painting.  We should all be so thoughtful.

The new view -- disracting enough
We aren't. We won't be to our children, and we haven't been to ourselves because we had books. Hundreds of books, thousands of books, millions and billions and trillions of books (to misquote Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats -- of which we had three copies). So we packed books, and then we gave away books to every person and institution we could think of, and then we packed more books.

I wonder what people move who don't move books.

The draw of our new home was the bookshelves.  There were lots of them. There weren't enough. We had to buy two seven foot tall shelves.  There are still some books looking for homes.

The view when it gets even more distracting

But we are moved.  And now it is nearly midway through September, and I barely remember August at all, except for our daughter visiting from Texas to see the new digs (and unpack books while she was here).

My own almost finished book, neglected all summer long, has emerged from hibernation and is slowly and sluggishly moving toward its conclusion (fortunately the action on the page is faster than the author typing it).

And hard as it was, long as it was, fraught as it was -- not to mention, hot as it was (never move from Iowa in July; you will regret it)  -- we are so glad to be here.

I'm hoping that autumn in Montana won't be lost at all.  But it might be unless I finish my book!

1) © By dotmatchbox at flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
2) © own photo, 2016
3) © own photo, 2016
4) © own photo, 2016


dstoutholcomb said...

Beautiful pictures, Anne. Glad you're about settled in.


Anne McAllister said...

Thank you, Denise! It feels like home. Could be those grandkids, though!