POWER OF NOSTALGIA — I have many fond memories of my grandparents unique house and the times I spent there as a child. Although I cannot physically revisit the roundhouse, it will always have a special place in my heart.
POWER OF NOSTALGIA — I have many fond memories of my grandparents’ unique house and the times I spent there as a child. Although I cannot physically revisit “the roundhouse,” it will always have a special place in my heart.
Hannah Jenkins/NW

Opinion — Memories and the power of nostalgia

At this point, it seems pretty trite to talk about nostalgia and the memories it can evoke from something as simple as a smell or a sound. But the fact that it has become cliché doesn’t make it any less powerful. We’ve all had times when something random brings a memory to mind that we haven’t thought about in years, which in turn leads to falling down the rabbit hole of the past.

One of the things I experience the most nostalgia around is my grandparents’ old house, known in our family as “the roundhouse.” My grandparents built the large, red and mostly circular house in the middle of the woods outside Houghton when my father was a child. According to my grandma, they built it that way so there would be no corners for dust to collect in.

Every time I smell woodsmoke, I think of sitting in front of the little wood stove in my grandparents’ living room, surrounded by the adults of the family in their respective recliners. I can see the white tiled wall behind the stove, painted with miniature colorful scenes and representing a piece of my grandma’s Swedish heritage.

Whenever I pick up my paperback copy of Scott O’Dell’s “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” I think about exploring the wedge-shaped closets tucked around the perimeter of the second story of the house. Some held bookshelves full of my grandpa’s intellectual reads and my dad and his siblings’ childhood books, while others served as storage for workout equipment.

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Whenever I use the word “crick” or see one running through the U.P. woods, I can imagine the little stream looping around the roundhouse and behind the long woodshed. I feel the cold water and the squelching mud rising halfway up my calf from when I accidentally stepped in with my shoes and socks on.

Hannah Jenkins

Every time I eat fig newtons, I remember the privilege of being allowed to have a couple from the glass jar in the kitchen and dunk them in milk like my grandpa used to do. I remember walking down the long driveway and picking crabapples from the trees that grew near the mailbox.

I remember watching VHS tapes on the TV upstairs and playing on the floor with my dad’s old Matchbox cars. I remember digging through my grandma’s music books and attempting to plunk out songs on the piano.

I remember zooming around the living room by propelling myself on a rolling office chair and racing my siblings until our parents made us stop. I remember arguing with my siblings about who got which of the half a dozen beds in the giant room spanning the entire second floor.

Although my grandparents no longer own the roundhouse, I still feel a strong sense of ownership and protectiveness over it. When I think about the many times I spent there with my family, it reminds me that I will never be able to have those experiences again. The roundhouse had a strange, whimsical quality that made visiting my grandparents like entering a different world tucked away in the woods.

I remember crying when my family and I were getting ready to leave after one of our visits and my grandma telling me, “The sooner you leave, the sooner you’ll be able to come back.”

In a way, I can still go back to the roundhouse. As cheesy as it sounds, I can always revisit those times from my childhood thanks to the power of nostalgia and the many memories my family and I have stored up over the years. Thank you, Grandma and Bumpa, for making those beautiful memories possible.

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