Northlawn Residence Hall, Eastern Mennonite University

Northlawn Residence Hall, Eastern Mennonite University

This is Northlawn, my college dorm, 1966-1969.

I fell in love with Stuart in the spring of 1967.

He was a grand senior. I was a lowly “frosh.”

Stuart pinned a red rose corsage on my lime green Spring Banquest dress while I stood on the porch of that dorm.

Now, after 45 years of marriage, we have returned to live less than a mile from this place.

We walk nearly every day through familiar scenes infused with memories of giddy joy.

The profusion of blooms bring back the intensity of first love tempered by the security of love tested, tried, and true.

If you are interested in more pictures and stories comparing past and present in the landscape of love, let me know in the comment section below.

In the meantime, here we are together just before Spring exploded.

On the deck March 25, 2015. Photo by J. Daniel Hess.

On the deck March, 2015. Photo by J. Daniel Hess.

***

Writing Prompt: Our landscape of love is here in the Shenandoah Valley. Where is yours? Can you tell a story? Why not leave a paragraph below?

Shirley Showalter

25 Comments

  1. Merril Smith on April 21, 2015 at 7:10 am

    What lovely memories and what a wonderful photo of the two of you!

  2. shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Good morning, Merril, thanks for jumping in this beautiful spring morning. Hope you are hearing birds and seeing blooms where you live also. Wishing you love in your landscape.

    • Merril Smith on April 21, 2015 at 7:38 am

      Thanks. The rainy skies are clearing, and it looks like it will be a beautiful day!

  3. shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Giddy joy. πŸ™‚

  4. Kathleen Friesen on April 21, 2015 at 8:52 am

    How very wonderful to live in a place where the past and present touch and twine together in body, mind, and soul. “Giddy joy” and explosions – yes, and faithfulness, grace, and love. Wishing you continued blessings along the path …
    Kathleen

    • shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Thanks. Kathleen, for your offering of that phrase “a place where the past and present touch and twine together in body, mind, and soul.” Perfect description of what I feel on these walks. Now all I need is you and Jon to walk along with your wonderful cameras and great sense for where the contemplative photo lies hidden in the landscape.

  5. melodie davis on April 21, 2015 at 9:40 am

    My landscape at first peek looks very similar:

    Northlawn, my college dorm, 1971-72
    I fell in love with my Stuart (same spelling) in the spring of 1975.

    He was a local yokel, as someone on campus called him. A townie. I was soon to be a college grad.

    I used to envy the “lovers” in the lounge of that dorm–what was the nickname for it? I was never sure why the EMC “match” factory didn’t work for me. But maybe God had other plans for my life.

    Now, after 39 years of marriage, we live 8 from this place. I too walk and enjoy it most every day. I too enjoy “first love tempered by the security of love tested, tried, and true.”
    ***

    And yes, we’re interested in more from your landscape! Of course!

    • shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Have you told the story of how you and your Stuart met? I for one would enjoy reading it. Is the phrase you forgot “passion pit”? We prided ourselves on not spending a lot of time there. There were other places to go . . . .

      Thanks for the encouragement to continue. And enjoy your own walks down memory lane, Melodie.

  6. Heather Speirs on April 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

    The first day I sat in his class, after hearing him read “The Sun Rising,” I leaned over to my roommate and said, “Now that’s the kind of man I’d like to marry.” Thirteen months later, on Thanksgiving in 1970, we did. Our blue-skied landscape remained the same for 35 years in Santa Barbara, but changed in exciting ways ten years ago when we moved to Philadelphia. potholes notwithstanding, we love our urban garden?

    • shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 10:13 am

      That first sentence has a great “hook” in it, Heather. Thanks for your offering. Now we all want to hear the rest of the story. How did you go from student to wife? If you haven’t written this story, I hope you will start now.

      Anyone who has lived in Santa Barbara for 35 years might find it hard to live elsewhere.

      But you have! May the sun shine on your lovely urban garden today.

  7. Elfrieda Schroeder on April 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    It is snowing here, can you believe that?! But some industrious robins have built a nest right by our front door, under our mailbox! Do they know what a close encounter with “danger” that is? obviously not! Neither did we when we built our little nest in Africa 45 years ago! I will do my utmost to protect them and keep them safe, just as I know God protected us and is still watching us and caring for us!

    • shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      Elfrieda, those birds knew what they were doing when they picked your front door as their nesting spot! What a poignant thought — that our lives and loves are so vulnerable and that God is watching over us. Thank you so much, and I am blowing a gust of WARM air up there to you right now. πŸ™‚

  8. Laurie Buchanan on April 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Shirley – I love the photograph of you and Stuart!

    A beautiful campus
    +
    Lovely memories
    +
    Within walking distance from home
    _______________________________

    = B squared β€” Bountiful Blessings!

    And yes, I’d love for you to share more pictures and stories comparing past and present in the landscape of love!

    • shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Yes, Laurie, B squared, Bountiful Blessings, indeed. You and Len have gone the other way, which is equally wonderful — exploring NEW places, especially Beautiful Boise, together. Get it? B squared for you, too!

  9. Marian Beaman on April 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    A delicious topic, perfect for springtime which prompted me to think of Robert Frost: “Earth is the right place for love. I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.”

    I went to EMC primarily for a college degree so I could teach English but I thought/hoped I would get a husband there too. Spring Banquets were not fun for me; I think I got asked out twice, once by a young man who possibly felt sorry for me (no heart-throb, he) and another time by someone who had a crush on me with no reciprocal feeling. Three years into teaching at LMS Cliff walked into the front door of my parents’ house. My first memory of giddy joy: his throwing popcorn into the air simulating snow as we exited the theatre where we’d seen Sound of Music for the 3rd time. We were goners – hook, line, and sinker.

    Of course you should share more stories and pics. We’ll eat it up! By the way, you looks even more polished in your new specs.

    • shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Marian, is there any situation that does not remind you of a favorite line from a poem, novel, or essay? I love that gift, of course, and so often your favorites are mine also.

      And that Cliff has been throwing up popcorn and making you laugh all your life. What a treasure. (I forgot to comment on his sweet cartoon Marian in your last blog post. He has a knack for conveying personality in one or two strokes of the pen.)

      Thanks for encouragement. I’ll be looking at some of those other buildings on campus . . .

  10. Kathleen Pooler on April 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Shirley, this is such a lovely reflection of “giddy joy” recaptured here for all of us to enjoy!Yes, by all means, keep these stories and photos coming. They are nourishment for the soul and bring me back to my own young love days. My favorite line: “The profusion of blooms bring back the intensity of first love tempered by the security of love tested, tried, and true.” Beautiful!

  11. shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks, Kathleen, You picked a sentence that I revised a number of times, trying to pack in as much meaning and feeling into the least words.

    And now, of course, I want to revise it again.

    That’s life, isn’t it. Thanks for your encouragement and for the tweets!

    • Kathleen Pooler on April 21, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Shirley, send that inner critic packing. I love the sentence just as it is. πŸ™‚

  12. Marlene Kropf on April 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Our “landscape of love” began on a Mennonite high school campus surrounded by tall evergreen forests. I have a memory of a sweet-scented white gardenia corsage pinned on my mint green dress for the spring banquet. After high school Stanley and I attended Eastern Mennonite College (1961-62), so we also share memories of rendezvous on the porch of Northlawn dormitory. Your memory of “first love tempered by the security of love tested, tried and true” is a fitting tribute to such a dazzling landscape.

  13. shirleyhs on April 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    We have many things in common, Marlene, in both love and landscapes. We certainly enjoyed sharing a bit of your gorgeous new landscape next to the Pacific Ocean. You know how to pick ’em! Interesting how well we remember the flowers, dresses, and nervous preparation around the Spring Banquet. More on that subject next week. Thanks for your comment.

  14. Lynette Meck on April 22, 2015 at 6:45 am

    In the fall of 1962, my parents and siblings moved from our farm in Lancaster, Pa to a smaller farm in Adamstown, Pa. My sister, Carol and I, 13 and 15 years old at the time, learned that boys our ages lived on the other two farms in our new neighborhood. Standing at our upstairs bedroom window, Carol joked, pointing to the farm on the left. β€œI’ll take the boy who lives there,” she said. β€œOkay,” I said, pointing to the farm on our right, β€œI’ll take that one.” We had neither seen nor met either of these boys and knew nothing about them except their ages. But at 13 and 15, boys were on the landscape of our minds.

    Those two boys are still on our landscape. We have been happily married to them now for nearly 50 years.

    • shirleyhs on April 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      I just love this story, Lynette! And I know my other readers will also. So much fun, desire, destiny in those youthful challenges to imagination. Did you each gesture to the exact farm where you eventually found mates? Amazing.

      So glad you offered a comment here, Lynette. I think you may be the first of my Magical Memoir Readers to comment on the blog.

      I’d love some feedback on whether you like the new way of connecting the two. How can I improve the interaction/experience for the reader?

  15. Elaine Mansfield on April 22, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you for the reminder that Love is the most precious gift. I live just twenty miles from the scene of the first knowing glance in 1966.

    • shirleyhs on April 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Amen, Sister. That is the message.

      Ah, knowing glances. The carrier pigeons of first love.

      You always say a lot with few words. Thanks for stopping by.

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