In October 2001, I traveled east to visit my parents. The trip I’d always taken for granted had, after 9/11, come to seem like a miracle. I got on the plane in Anchorage, and eventually got off in Hartford, but it wasn’t until we reached the reservoir and I could see the lights on Whirlwind Hill that I felt the enormous joy and relief of being back home.
After that visit I sent an article to a feature at the Meriden Record. The piece was printed in January 2002, and I’ll reprint it here. The newspaper titled it “And the Tree Lives On.”
“In early October, I made the long trip from my home in Anchorage, Alaska to my parents’ house in Wallingford, Connecticut. Although I haven’t lived in East Wallingford since 1967, I still feel most truly and securely at home there.
The farmland, which has been in our family since before the Revolutionary War, has stayed open and undeveloped. I feel lucky to be able to visit such a timeless treasure and grateful to my relatives for keeping it that way year after year. Each time I come home I walk down the lane and up the hill to sit under my favorite tree. It’s silent there and beautiful, and I’m cheered to see the tree still standing in glorious isolation.
On one of my visits, my aunt told me that when my uncle was a young boy helping his father on the farm, he asked to have a tree planted here. During the long days of summer work he wanted to have a shady spot to put the water jug. Since then the fields have been almost continuously farmed. It must be a nuisance to mow, plant, and harvest around the tree, especially now that water jugs stay cool on their own. The fact that the tree has endured comforted me as I sat under it on October 8, trying to find balance in increasingly unsettling times.
As an artist, I collect images that connect me to the people and places I love. This year when I visited, the tree was still dressed in fall leaves, but in a few months it will look like this photo I took in March, 1972 – an example of the stark, powerful New England landscape I miss when I’m living so far way from home.” – Carol Crump Bryner, October 2001
On Monday: Time