Visions of Today and Yesterday

I feel like I live in two worlds.

I recently bought a pear tree (note to self: buy a partridge) and needed to drive slowly along the back roads on the way home. My route took me through the small town of Clayton, Indiana, and my double-vision kicked in.

This is actually a house in nearby Danville.  That's what I get for letting my mind wander without taking pictures!

This is actually the Ora Adams House in nearby Danville. That’s what I get for letting my mind wander without taking pictures!

Clayton is a country village a few miles south of the county seat, which is a slightly larger town. The historic homes along Clayton’s main road invited me to slow down and enjoy the sights – spreading shade trees, lovely flower beds, and a woman mowing a yard.

Juxtaposed against this, I could also envision women in long skirts and sidewalks walking of boards. Families would have hitched a wagon and taken regular trips into Danville for supplies. The Presbyterian Church has been around since the 1830s, and descendants of the original settlers probably still worship there.

From 1910 - can't you imagine living then?

A gathering in 1910 – can’t you imagine being there? (Click to enlarge.)

Farther on, country roads took me through flat farmland. A tractor rumbled through the field for spring plowing, but I could also see a team of horses straining against their harnesses, and the man taking his hat off and wiping his brow. In the fall, a combine will roar through, harvesting corn or soybeans most likely. Or could it be a long row of men and women wielding scythes and tying up shooks of wheat or oats?

Image courtesy of USDA via Flickr

Image courtesy of USDA via Flickr

Le Laborage by Rosa Boneur, via Wikimedia Commons

Le Laborage by Rosa Boneur, via Wikimedia Commons


By the time I got the pear tree home (leaves still intact, thank goodness), I was back fully in the modern world. But the more I read and write historical fiction, the more I live in the past and the easier it is for my imagination to overlay today with scenes of pioneer times.

It’s rather a nice sort of double-vision to have.

What about you? Can you “see” a previous time laid over our modern lives? When you’re traveling, or at home, too? How far back does your imagination take you?

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2 Responses to Visions of Today and Yesterday

  1. Clay Watkins says:

    I am a dreamer and a historian – by degree and profession, so I am dreaming all the time. I often wonder what it would be like – back then. Sometimes I want to know more, the why, the how, to make sense of the present. The past makes us who we are are today and our present makes the future. Good luck with your pear tree and partridge. Have a great week.
    Clay Watkins recently posted..SuperstitionMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      I love linking the past to the present, Clay. One of the things about my book is my MC realizing that what happened in the past was real and affects him, far more than just a line in a history book.

      I popped over to your blog and I love it. Kudos to you for all you do with your students. And I’ve got a new internet friend now!