...Spencer has always been an observer, inspecting and exploring was part of his nature from a very early age. Not speaking of course, nurtured this observational gift. His curiosity has been boundless ever since he began crawling. In every other way Spencer is a normal, healthy kid, with plenty of energy to burn. He’s got a full head of blondish hair with blue eyes and spattering of freckles. He’s a born climber, so he’s wiry and athletic. He loves to ice skate and can spend hours cruising around on the local outdoor ice rinks or on a frozen pond at the edge of town. Like most guys just entering their teens his imagination runs wild, while in his heart he begins to feel a whole new ocean of experiences.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It’s early October in Michigan. Spencer is standing in front of one of his bedroom windows watching a huge oak tree bend and twist with the power of the wild autumn wind. It’s as if the tree is wrestling with the wind; getting in shape for the onset of a long and arduous winter’s battle, the tree digging its roots deeper and deeper before the ground is frozen. Over the hot humid summer the ancient oak has grown another thicker layer of bark, a warm overcoat against the freezing wind and snow.
There’s a crew of squirrels scrambling in every direction. You would think there’s a game being played and no one wants to be left out. They’re gathering acorns and chestnuts from all over the neighborhood as they rain down from the trees. The wind is being very helpful in shaking them loose. It looks like a big team effort, stocking up for the winter as fast as they can before the birds pluck the acorns away.
Spencer’s house sits on the corner of Bartlett and Shiawassee Streets. This is a part of town with two story homes and screened-in porches for hot muggy summer nights. They say some trees in the area are at least 100 years old or more. It’s the kind of neighborhood that’s been developed and cared for over time; with hedges and rosebushes and backyard summer gardens teeming with fruit and vegetables for canning.
Once again curiosity has lured Spencer into spending the last hour in the family’s communal walk-in closet right next to his bedroom, a solitary place which has all sorts of hats and boots, coats and shoes and silk neckties of all colors. There are warm mufflers and scarves, jackets with secret pockets and hat boxes filled with old pictures and papers. Spencer snoops through everything, always in search of new hidden treasures!
On certain days when the world feels comfortable with steam-filled radiators and the smell of burning leaves, Spencer is drawn to the mysterious and heart-thumping experience of total darkness and complete quiet inside the closet. At first the door is cracked with just a sliver of light streaming into the room. He waits until his eyes adjust to the light, then he closes the cedar-lined vault and opens up a vacuum of inky black space.
Spencer’s eyes reach out where gray shadows form and thoughts come from nowhere. The stillness is like a magic cloak that lets him begin to see what’s going on inside his mind. When he dares to dive into the mystery of so dark a place it feels like an endless pool and he’s treading water and watching what’s going on inside himself. Sometimes his feelings are clear. He may be thinking about his parents who he loves dearly. But sometimes a wave of understanding settles in his head and he can’t put a name to it. It’s a knowing feeling that springs from inside him, like the spirit that lives in all creatures that can’t really be explained, but can be felt. Or the myriad of feelings one has while sitting in front of a roaring fire with the wind and rain pouring over the roof outside. The closet is a place Spencer retreats to try and understand his feelings and sort out the mysteries in his life. So now Spencer, his friends and family shall reveal the stories and incidents which occur in his neighborhood and his life during the period from October 1962 through 1963.