by Ken Druce
I have a special place where I go wandering, though now only in my memories. It is in on a hill in Wyoming, right above a lake. Built by the CCC during the depression, it is called “The Castle.” The “CCC” was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt during the depression to get people working and it stands for “Civilian Conservation Corps.” Many great national parks and monuments were built during its tenure. My favorite pastime was to take some wood, some meat and my camp coffee pot and spend the afternoon. I was never bothered up there by other people using it. It was my special place and I am glad; I now live 8,000 miles away and the only thing I really miss is my Castle.
Royalty of Youth
I fell in love with it when I was quite young. We went the first time as a family. We just stumbled upon it and spent a few hours there.
I doubt it touched anyone the way it did me.
I felt a strength flowing into me out of the cold granite walls.
I could just imagine myself living there.
I would move grandly up the stairway to the second floor, my royal robes trailing behind.
I was the conqueror there. Yet there was nothing I need conquer. I’d live in a peaceful castle. I’d feel like I was king of my destiny there.
Windows on the World
Leading to the “widows” roost was a carved stone stairway up to the second story. I would climb up there and feel the breeze against my face and gaze out over the canyon containing Guernsey Lake.
Because it is Wyoming, there was usually a slight to moderate wind. That made it all the better.
The Castle rests on a rocky, bare crag, overlooking Guernsey Lake. I would just close my eyes and turn my face to the sky and feel the sun and the wind.
There are not too many tall trees around it, but most of them are cedars and pine trees. There is a distinct sound when the wind blows through a pine forest. Has anyone else heard that? As an adult, I still went there when I could.
Ever in Memory
When going to college, it still had the same affect on me and I took a trip or two there. I took one person up there with me and after that it was a shared refuge. When I visit, my thoughts often turn to Susan. She was the love of my life, but I was so confused back then, I didn’t know what I wanted. Our dreams, then, were lofty and filled with hope before my naïveté was jaded. There is a huge stone fireplace on the first floor with carved rock benches. I can remember sitting on the floor with Susan, a blazing fire before us, talking about our futures and our hopes and passions.
When that love ended, that was the place I went. It isn’t a place of sorrow. Melancholia maybe. A pleasant tug on my heart strings, reminding me of the past pleasure. I took one other person there, but she didn’t feel as I did about the place. She was the last person I shared the Castle. I was alone and at peace in my kingdom. She was not a true romantic and doesn’t feel with her heart.
I took a last trip up to the Castle just before I moved to Australia. There are a few areas I knew I would miss, but none as much as Lake Guernsey. I spent the afternoon and took some pictures as a physical remembrance. I doubt I shall ever go there again. That makes me sad, but also happy, since I have such a peaceful place to go back to in my dreams and memories. Whenever the world gets me down, I just let go and feel myself being lifted up and taken to my place of peace. A kingdom of one, contentedly.