One Last Stroll

January 3, 2011 | 19 comments

I grab my camera, slip on Mom’s gloves laying by her back door. I pass through the porch, a repository that held every pair of shoes I wore for the first 18 years of life. I remember the black-patent leather, the basketball hightops, the two-inch heels with sequin clips that I wore for my senior prom.

I push the screen door open, stepping quietly into the crisp morning, as if I could alarm the dawn.

All is quiet, except for the click-click-click of the camera shutter, and except for my own slow breath, meeting cold Iowa air in white, steady puffs.

I snap images of hoarfrost fastening itself to clotheslines and pine branches. Here in the yard, I’m a girl again. And my whole world is strung with white wispy fairies waiting for the signal to fly.

It’s beautiful, but fleeting. Soon, a breeze will coax the frost-fairies away. Or they will simply disappear under the sun, rising higher in the eastern sky now.

I cross under the frosted clothesline. I had raced a thousand relays between bedsheets that Mom clipped here with wooden pins.

I snap photographs of the old pump and my favorite climbing tree and the chicken shed. Here, we made mud-pies and pine-needle soup, which we stirred with sticks in Folgers cans. We’d decorate our tea-party table with delicate bells snipped from the lily-of-the-valley patch. It used to grow unabated outside the shed door.

I walk through a land entombed in snow, making new paths to reach the spruce that tower over graves of family pets.

Forty-one years, they made this home. In this place, I grew from baby to woman.

I linger long behind the shed, snapping a few final frames of a fast-disappearing frost.

Then the fairies and I? We both say goodbye.

On this last winter stroll through my childhood yard, I link with L.L. Barkat and her Monday series … L.L. is the author of “God in the Yard,” a book that helped me more deliberately discover God in places like dandelion patches and hoarfrosted groves.

by | January 3, 2011 | 19 comments


  1. Kelly Sauer

    This just makes me want to cry. I've said too many goodbyes…

  2. Julie


    How my heart goes out to you…I know it cannot be easy to look at all those memories that house holds and not be sad to see it go. My prayer will be with you and your parents as they venture into unknown territory. Time to make new memories…the places may change but the love and hearts remain the same.

    Thank you for sharing….


  3. Shaunie Friday--Up the Sunbeam

    I hate goodbyes, but you've shown it so beautifully here! Having long ago said my own goodbyes to my Iowa home and the homes of my grandparents that would feel familiar to you, I know the ache and that those foundational places never leave us. They are ever vivid in our memories!

  4. patty

    bittersweet and beautiful…

  5. Wendy Paine Miller

    Powerful. Both the pictures and the words.

    So many things to learn to say good-bye to.

    My parents moved when I was in college. I spent first grade through graduation at that house.

    One more reason I'm grateful my home is in Him.
    ~ Wendy

  6. L.L. Barkat

    The frost fairies. I loved that.

    As I strolled with you, I got shivers. Shivers somehow related to poignancy of goodbyes. And memories. And just the beauty of all that snow. Especially hanging from the trees.

  7. Kay @ Off the Beaten Path


  8. deb

    oh, your photos are wondrous.

    I can't imagine this feeling, but can stroll with you , Jennifer.
    As a parent, I wanted so much for my children to have a forever home, but am finding now that I long for more yard, a different layout. We've been thinking about this.. .about whether to stay for the kids.

    I can't imagine this. I am sure your parents are making a wise and well thought out decision, but it is difficult and bittersweet all the same.

  9. Nancy

    Good heavens, girl–you might want to post a warning for all us middle-aged hormonal women reading you. How many times have I used the phrase, "heart-achingly beautiful" in my comments to you? Because this one is.


    Beautiful. Especially the part about waiting for the signal to fly. You've captured the photography together with the words, perfectly. I felt the quiet crunch of a frosty morning dawn rising in Iowa. Wow.

  11. Charity Singleton

    These words and pictures – a moving tribute to a good home for many years. The goodbye must certainly be hard.

  12. Linda

    This is so poignant Jennifer. What precious memories are wrapped up in home.
    The old 19th century house my Dad labored five years to restore was like a member of the family. I think we all still miss it.

  13. ckbasi

    I can't imagine walking around my childhood home for the last time. It makes me shiver to even think about. But if you have to go, what a way to do it.

  14. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Hello friends …

    I've been meaning to drop into the comment box today, and thank you for your kind words.

    The stroll around the backyard was a bittersweet one. I thought I'd gone outside to snap photographs. Turns out, I'd really been called to a place of grieving.

    This won't be the last time I go home — though I doubt I'll take another stroll like this. We'll be back a time or two to help my parents pack, I'm sure.

    And truly, I'm eager for them to step into a new adventure of living. They are still healthy and vibrant and fun and funny … and adventurous! But the stairs of a big 110-year-old house are just a bit too much.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that your words in this place always make me smile.

    And whether I'm grieving …
    or I'm laughing,
    or Getting Down,
    or just being plain weird …
    I know I'm not alone.

    Because *you* are here.

    How I thank God for you.

  15. Thoughts for the day

    wonderful pictures. Wonderful writing. beautiful home.

  16. Jennifer

    I did the final walk through my great Grandma's home. I still remember the smell. And if I close my eyes, I can still walk through each room, see Grandma standing at the counter making tea cakes, sit in the darkness of the living room with the large Bible that had colored pictures of Jesus.

    It's these places, these images that we take with us even when they're gone.

    My heart is with you because I know how this letting go is difficult.

  17. Melissa Campbell

    It's good to down memory lane, to remember and honor and give thanks. And it's good to move ahead into the new. Change is always bittersweet. Thank you for sharing your memories! Blessings on your journey!

  18. Kathy S.

    Lovely photos.
    I've been there in some ways.
    Change is difficult when it comes to "home".

  19. nance marie

    iowa beautiful iowa…
    this brings tears to my eyes.


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