Where from? Where to?

 

In the daily flow of lists and chores and media what is it that lights excitement in the mind and turns our eyes and hands to some intriguing episode of life? Why are some drawn to look at this or this and not at that? …these strands of stories all around us.

 

Being an inveterate hammerer of nails myself, it shouldn’t surprise that the mushroom wooden towns of late nineteenth century America have always attracted me. The ease with which wood can be shaped – by both tools and elements, seems suited not only to those swiftly moving times but also to our lifespan on this earth. The structures in those ‘frontier’ days of chasing opportunity, and sometimes gold, are unlike our settled homes where we attempt to bring a sense of permanence and control to lives transient and fragile. That ‘cowboy’ era, with its heavy clothing and light buildings, speaks in contrast to our present climate controlled avoidance of the elements approach to living, when clothing can be chosen for look rather than season. Dirt and pain, death and risk; yes there was – but also, I suspect, more hands-on responsibility for home and work and life.

It was no ideal existence but then, neither is now. Each era brings its joys and pitfalls. Progress is not all gain. And underneath the hats and haircuts people are still the same wondrous, fascinating creatures, walking this earth for their few years and… as Mrs Miniver said “Eternity framed in domesticity…” or streetlife, ghostowns, cafés, shop windows, cookers and holiday books, even desperate men and women, … “it had to be framed in something to see it at all.”

 

Merve Jones

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