This Place

This place.  This is my favorite place.  It may be hard at first to see why, so I will try to help you see.

You see that beach?  It may be rough and rocky, ridden with barnacles; nothing fit for a postcard.  But this shore is a treasure hunt.  Where my brother and I would hunt for agates, crabs, and clams.  This shore is a racetrack, a five-star restaurant with a view, a sanctuary.  This is the home of corn-on-the-cob, grilled salmon, and my mom’s legendary bean dip.  This shore has played host to endless campfires, the wind ringing with the melodies of Denver, Lennon, Peter, Paul, and Mary.  So while to you this may seem to be just another cloudy shore, not worthy of a second glance, this beach, it is everything to me.

You see that cabin?  Yes, it is small, old, crowded, and cluttered.  It carries a musty smell that would never make the Yankee candle lineup, and the furniture matches as well as a Goodwill sale.  But to me, this cabin isn’t small; it’s filled and overflowing with memories of all who have passed through its torn screen door.  Crowded with a history of never-ending breakfasts and of game nights creeping into the early hours of the morning.  Cluttered with the love of a family who has faithfully gathered year after year to eat, drink, and rest in each other’s presence.  This is the cabin where my brother fell out of the top bunk, where we have rested after long work parties in the woods, where Mozart plays every morning, and evenings are always by moonlight or candlelight.  So yes, this place may smell a bit strange and seem unremarkable, but this cabin, this is everything to me.

You see those trees, that boathouse, that driveway?  To you there are merely things and places.  But to me, these are the things and places that have been steady and constant, breathing life into me year after year.  As the rest of the world has shifted and become unfamiliar, these trees, this boathouse, this driveway, this place; these have been everything to me.

You see that family?  They don’t seem like much.  A hodgepodge bunch of Norwegians who return year after year to eat the same food, to watch the same sunset, to breathe the same air.  But this family, these people are the ones who have always shown up.  To every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every birthday, every graduation, to any holiday we can invent.  These are the people who have known me, challenged me, laughed with me, and loved me longer than anyone else I know.  So while these people may not look like much to you, this family is everything to me.

So while this place, this cluttered cabin on a cloudy shore, frequented by a strange bunch of Norway-lovers, while it may not mean anything to you, this place means everything to me.

2 thoughts on “This Place”

  1. Dear Brian Valley,

    Your writing left me with tears of joy in the sense you brought “alive” all that transpires in the cabin throughout the year. How wonderful for you to have written memories of the past while gathered in the cabin; with more to come each and every time family members gather. Just think if the cabin could talk!

    Your writing is a gift from God, thank you for sharing.

    Sincerely,
    Betty Rose (a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lacey, WA)

  2. Brian, Thank you so much for posting this. Yesterday I found myself sitting on the beach and thinking about our amazing family. We will support one another through this. Your writing is a gift to us all and this is one of your best!! Love you, Barb

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