Just below Lover’s Leap (photo: Rod Clark)
Writer Rod Clark revisits an old limestone quarry full of memories near the village where he grew up, and finds the towering cliffs and hidden caves still a magnet for children today.
CURWOOD: There are some memories that won’t let us go, it seems, and then there are other memories that are all about letting go. Here’s writer Rod Clark.
CLARK: Children are playing hide and seek in the old limestone quarry at the edge of the village where I grew up. I hear them as I walk, their voices ringing high and clear, echoing off the high stone walls among the mysterious trees.
Crows complain, squirrels scold the invaders from the safety of green branches, and suddenly I am carried back to summer days in the 50s when my brothers and I played “Scatter” and “Capture the Flag” on the two wooded levels of the quarry, remembering how we crept among the sumac and the shadows of boulders, how honeysuckle perfumed the air, and how once I saw a possum hanging by its tail in the cool shade of a Catalpa. And I remember how we named the secret places of our playground: “Pirates Path,” “Lover’s Leap,” “Dead Man’s Cave,” and most marvelous of all, “Cool Cave,” which possessed in its depths a limestone nook where you could keep a bottle of Coke cold even in the heat of summer…
And as I ascend the path to the uppermost ridge to look down upon a world mapped by children, some of whom are no longer alive, a small boy pops out of the brush in front of me, his eyes wide, burrs tangled in his hair. “Are there any pirates down there?” he demands breathlessly. But I am no longer of his world and cannot answer him. Without waiting for a reply, he plunges into the green realm below. I hear the rapid patter of his feet descending to the second level punctuated with improbable leaps and bounds, and suddenly I realize what it is I’ve been seeking when I make the pilgrimage to the old quarry.
Because it is my childhood that is racing away from me, down the steep pathway, among the mysterious trees.
CURWOOD: Rod Clark lives and writes in Cambridge, Wisconsin. He's the editor and publisher of Rosebud magazine, and he took some pictures of the old quarry, they're at our website LOE.org.
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