“June,” Its Setting and Significance
One summer's morning, as I was walking bare-foot toward the barn, I thought I heard a strange signal coming from the woods beyond the corn field. If it were birds calling, it was unlike anything I had heard before. I was probably five or six, and I did not know many birds.Maybe a flock of finches twittered and a mourning dove moaned, but I preferred the spooky thrill of hearing an alien visitor, maybe a beaked space creature from Venus. It must have been the early ‘60s, when space exploration was a hot topic.
I didn’t know that the word June came from the name Juno, who was a goddess of childbirth and, by extension, fertility. However, I could see the corn growing and the tobacco and alfalfa, I could smell the cows, the manure and red dirt, I could feel the abundance. And I was happy in my bare-footed self.
Today, when I read “June,” I think of this quote from Dostoevsky, from The Brothers Karamazov:
“You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one's heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.”
When I remember this time from my childhood, I think of it as a “sacred memory.”