This the word that John Koenig, author of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, coined to describe the “eeriness of places left behind.” He writes:
You can sense it when you move out of a house— noticing just how empty a place can feel. Walking through a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, or fairgrounds out of season. They’re usually bustling with life but now lie abandoned and quiet.
Having mentioned a long, illustrious history of school camping trips in my last post, this reminded me of the end of one of them at Calaveras Big Trees, a place we went to from some 20 years. Sometime in the late 1990’s, after five days of camping with some sixty 3rd-5thgraders and another fifteen adults, I wrote this poem:
CALAVERAS CAMPING TRIP—FRIDAY MORNING
The bus pulls out
A few minutes later, the cars follow
And I stay back for
one last moment.
Pick up the abandoned sock, the dropped sandwich
and stand watching.
Two jays come to the campfire,
poke around the kitchen area
Squawking to each other
A forest silence descends
the trees exhale
"It's ours again."
Is this how it will be when the last humans are gone?
No traces but the smoke of a dying