Window to the Past


The horses’ hoof beats made a storybook rhythm as they pulled the striking white carriage toward me from the town square. The scene held me fixed, staring up the main street, Old Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30), toward the white-domed spire of Lisbon’s best recognized landmark, its courthouse. I consciously tried to freeze time. I looked upon the quaint scene before me and became vividly aware of the many generations that had passed over this street. My great grandparents must have heard this same sound on those rare days they set aside to come into town from their farm, except that the sounds of their horses would have blended in with the clatter of other horses and buggies. What I heard stood alone, magnified by the quiet of the Sunday afternoon.

Bicentennial business continued on the square. Displays remaining from the weekend’s celebration, fluttered red, white and blue from around every edge of the action that waited for the antique car parade to pass by. But here, a block away, under the quiet cool of tall trees that shaded the old library, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. These same trees had shaded my grandmother as she entered the comforting, red brick library to work among the stacks of books with their friendly smells of wisdom. Anticipation and wonder from my past surrounded the inconspicuous corners where I had watched her help people who, like me, looked for a special morsel they could mull over and savor. Nearly anything I could imagine or dream was folded somewhere within these volumes of pages.

On the front lawn of this place so dear to me, I scanned the tables of discarded books as a feast laid out for me. I stacked and cradled the most fragrant offerings in my arms, and looked across the old street to the belfry of the Christian Church which has been a part of Lisbon for 175 of the 200 years the village celebrates and a tenacious part of my 50 years. The preschool held in the old brick house beside our church helped to shape the early lives of my children.

I though of the impact this one block of town has had on my life. I thought of the many people who move around this globe, see more of the world than I do, and, maybe feel a freedom of mobility that I don’t understand. I felt like the old trees I stood beside. Deeply rooted in this same spot, we shared its richness in different ways. The cloppity beats faded as the horse and carriage circled away from me, and I felt the depth of the passage of time.

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