Ponder this:

Friday, November 6, 2009


Railway Tunnel

Memory: A tunnel that my father often drove through on the way home from the village.
The tunnel was made of close hand-laid moss-covered stone walls, rounded sides to the low ceiling, like a remnant of an ancient castle. It accommodated the road where it cut through a hill. Grass and brush grew up the banks on either side of the entrance and the exit; grass grew on top. Whenever we kids were with him, we would beg him to blow the truck horn as we passed through the tunnel; the sound's reverberation thrilled us. It wasn't a long tunnel; it was short enough that once we entered it I immediately became impatient for Dad to blow the horn lest we be out before I heard that sound. I liked the feeling of being in that tube of stone. I felt cozy and protected. There is a similar tunnel on one of the nearby twisty curvy country roads. When I drive through it I slow down and blow the horn. If the road there were wider I might park in there and enjoy the closeness.

I liked then, and I like now, tunnels and burrows. In the winter I liked to burrow into snowdrifts. Snug and warm in my heavy wool snowpants I would sit in my little rabbit warren snow house. I smiled little smiles to myself and admired the blue-white walls and and the absence of sound. I felt secreted and safe.

Sometimes on long winter days my sister and I would pull and carry every wooden chair in the house into the livingroom and turn them over on their faces, cover them with old quilts and crawl inside our homemade tunnel. It seems, in memory, that we had rooms in there, although there couldn't have been that many chairs or that much space but . . . we were small.

This love of small cozy spaces is apparently part of my inborn psychology: Prior to my birth I never turned upside down the way a getting-ready-to-be-born baby is supposed to. I came out butt first.
I wanted to stay where I was safe and cozy.

(Note to self: Read Franz Kafka's The Burrow)


Wanda..... said...

You touched on so many things from my own childhood...horn blowing in tunnels, which I haven't thought of for years...so thank you! My grandchildren made elaborate quilt covered cozy spaces downstairs...then moved on to using fallen tree limbs in the woods!

VioletSky said...

Oh yes, I remember the chairs and blankets tunnels as a kid. And the igloos we built from the snow drifts. I have fond memories of these - and yet - now feel rather claustrophobic in any enclosed space, so am not sure what happened (if it was traumatic, the memory is gone).

Anonymous said...

Hello June,
The short/small tunnels in life equated to warm spaces of safety was such an endearing thought.Made me smile.I used to think beneath the blanket was the only space nobody could invade...it was my lil space of security.

Thank You for stopping by mine.

Lord Wellbourne said...

Heavens--the memories of my own childhood from the fingertips of another. It's funny how we think these things only ever happened to--and belong to--us as individuals. Thank you for reminding me that I am one of many who had a charmed childhood beneath quilted castles and within muted blue ice fortresses.

Bibi said...

Heavens--the memories of my own childhood from the fingertips of another.

I couldn't agree more or state it more perfectly !!

Barb said...

Lucky to have these memories - I wish them for today's children, too.

Joe Todd said...

I love tunnels. As a kid I was always building forts in the ground underground. Just give me a shovel. One time I got in trouble trying to dig a basement under my sisters playhouse. LOL

June said...

Thank you all for the responses. Nice to know I've touched a common chord. I'm glad to know, Wanda, that your grandchildren are still into that kind of Make-Your-Own-Play. I hope too much of that kind of thing doesn't get lost.
Gee, Joe...your sister didn't want a basement? ;-)

Lord Wellbourne said...

Thanks, Bibi. Joe should have told his sister he was turning it into a split-level...like Barbie's.

Anonymous said...

Imagination at work. I like the post and the picture. The tunnel does look to be very old.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

June: That is one beautiful photo and your memories of it make it all the more fascinating.
I have to admit that I have a slight discomfort at spaces that feel too closed in or tight. Whether that derives from my experience in the womb, I am not sure - but it certainly must leave us with some sort of unconscious imprint. I do know that I slept in two different bedrooms that were more like closets and had no windows - and that left its mark, I'm sure. Great post!