I was blessed to grow up just 15 minutes away from my grandparents (on my mom’s side), who lived on a small farm in the country. Granted by the time my brother and I were born and old enough to remember any animals, the only critters there were rabbits and that didn’t last long. If you ask my mom, she doesn’t remember there being any animals, though she did have rabbits when she was growing up (along with a cow or two, possibly some other animals), but I’m going to stick by my memories of rabbits. There were also 2 huge gardens on either side of the 2 acre property and a small strawberry patch. The rest of the property was dotted with an old, small, pieced together barn (that held the aforementioned cow(s)), an old dog house, a small shed connected to a larger pole barn, an outhouse looking shed that held old coal, a large lean to where tractors were parked, a brick 2 car garage, another metal shed that held mostly fire wood, and of course, the two story farmhouse.

A small, murky swampy pond sat just on the other side of the back property line and it held many adventures for my brother and I, our cousins, along with friends and the neighbor boy down the road. On a side note, this is the boy who once said I could never shoot him and not miss. Luckily for him, it was just a BB gun, because I did shoot him….and I didn’t miss. My grandpa kept everything. Some may have called him a hoarder, but he was simply a man who survived the depression and was ready for another one. If the apocalypse came, I knew where I was going to go. That being said, out of his “junk” we made rafts out of inner tubes, wooden pallets and hockey sticks with the ends sawed off. Oh the fun we had pushing ourselves through that murky wonder.

The plethora of buildings provided us with places to climb, hide, explore, and play in. Hours on end were spent climbing tractors; walking through the barn with the very old hay, imagining a cow kept there; sorting through the old hardware, farm and garden tools, and odds and ends and climbing over the furniture and riding mower in the garage. In later years, my mom and I would dream of how we would refinish all the old stuff and open our own business.

Then of course there was the house. I recall playing Lincoln logs on the stair landing; having sleep overs in my grandmas room upstairs (and her portable potty chair that she kept upstairs since the only real bathroom was downstairs); trying to get the color to come in on my great grandmas old boob tube (it was a black and white tv….it took us awhile to learn what that meant); practicing my piano skills in the den (one of my aunts painted it an avocado green when she was younger); traipsing down to the basement and being awed by all the canned goods in the root cellar room, the unlighted corner that held who knows what and was covered in cob webs, helping with laundry in their ancient washer and then hanging the clothes out to dry, shuffling food around in the two deep freezers, and sneaking pop.

The gardens held a variety of vegetables and in later years, flowers too. My brother and I loved running through the corn field, though looking back, it was really just a few rows of corn. But when you’re small, the full grown corn stalks were taller than us and seemed to provide yards of mazes for us. Green beans needed picking, but that also meant munching away on fresh beans as we picked off the ends, dirt and all. There’s nothing better than a homegrown carrot and I loved eating the tomatoes like an apple with a little sugar sprinkled on. I would catch moths and other small bugs to feed the ants. I’d watch them tear apart their meals and carry them down into their holes, then I’d dig around and try to find the moth part. I never did. To this day it’s still a mystery as to how the ants ate, broke down or hid/stored each insect that quickly. There was an electric wire that ran around the perimeter of the main garden (the other garden grew pumpkins and other squash in the fall, and gave us our own pumpkin patch) and my brother and I would laugh hysterically as we dared each other to touch the fence and jolt ourselves. I would catch moths and other small bugs to feed the ants. I’d watch them tear apart their meals and carry them down into their holes, then I’d dig around and try to find the moth part. I never did. To this day it’s still a mystery as to how the ants ate, broke down or hid/stored each insect that quickly. Two of my old dogs are buried there.

You could watch birds and squirrels at the bird feeders from the kitchen window. We would tunnel into and build forts in the piles of snow after my grandpa plowed in the winter. There was a small hill in the front yard that gave us sledding fun and we’d often head across the street to a larger hill that, if you weren’t careful, would dump you into the creek after careening down. The row of pine trees along the driveway were full grown when I was old enough to notice them, but I marveled at how my mom and her sisters could jump over them when they were kids growing up. Ground hogs and chipmunks were always making holes or digging into the garden and considered nuisances. We enjoyed walking behind my grandparents through the open field that led to a forest with a fox hole that always had animal bones scattered around. I remember walking back there just me and a friend one time and seeing a wolf. We freaked and ran all the way back to the house. Granted it was probably just the fox, but the imagination of a young girl can run wild at times. Deer were plentiful and my Grandpa blessed us with a nice buck every year. Venison, mmm-mmm good!

Oh the memories. I could go on and on. That was home to me. It was home even though we lived in town. It was home when I moved away to college, and then grad school, and then got a job. Whenever I traveled home, that is the house I thought of. After my Grandpa passed away and then my Grandma, my mom moved into that farmhouse and has lived there the past few years.

Until now. The house has been sold; it no longer belongs to our family. I feel like a part of me died when it was sold. That was home. Our family home. My home. Our memories. It drew me back and called to me when I had been gone too long. It was a breath of fresh air, peace and tranquility regardless of what my life held. The memories flood back often and I smile at them, only now there are tears behind the smiles. It’s like an ending of an era that I miss so much.

 

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