In the summer of 1973, I worked at a shoe factory in Carlisle in order to pay for my schooling. The trip back and forth from work to home took about 25 minutes each way and traveled through some of the best examples of Pennsylvania farmland and second-growth woods. Because of the layout of the roads, there were exactly five different routes to and from my home to the factory, each taking the same amount of time and I would alternate the routes daily to enjoy the change of scenery.
One day as I was traveling back home, I took one road and as I drove I was enjoying the view of the wildlife and the lush growth of rural Pennsylvania in the prime of summer. As the road turned through a wood, I saw a grass-covered lane leading off to my right and as I drove by, I looked down its length and saw something I have never been able to explain.
I can still picture what I saw perfectly because the memory is so strongly imprinted in my mind's eye. The view I saw was the shadowed lane leading out into the full sunlit glory of a Pennsylvania meadow, but the combination of light and mist made it appear as if it were painted by a John William Waterhouse or Frederic Edwin Church.
How do I describe that scene?
It was a Pennsylvania meadow untouched by original sin. It was the vision of Eden in its first purity or Arcadia or the Elysian Fields made corporeal. It was to know that to walk into that field would have made one disappear forever into a realm of faerie from which no mortal could ever return.
|Somewhat close to the reality, but not close enough. Photographer unknown.|
Now here is where it gets weird.
I was so affected by the vision, I searched for the lane the next day after work. I took the road I thought I had traveled the day before, but there was no grass-covered lane to find. No problem, I thought, I just took the wrong road.
For the rest of the summer, I traveled those five separate roads repeatedly looking for that lane and sunlit meadow, but I never found them again.
The memory of that meadow is what served as the model for the Wood of the World in my children's novella, The Seven Sisters.
However, I do believe I will see that spot again. Five seconds after I shuffle off this mortal coil I’ll be back in that field and then it will be higher up and deeper in for the rest of eternity.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.