The last post asked you to think about what you have to be thankful for in a rather miserable year. I hope some fresh thinking allowed you to dwell on some of some positives. Frankly, the comments helped me find some new light during a dark time.
This time, it might be fun to remember a time that wasn't bombarded by all sorts of nasty, adult-type news: your childhood. As summer comes to an end, I have been thinking of some of the more powerful childhood memories that defined this season of the year. Especially this year, thinking about good things helps us get through the uncertainty ahead.
My grandparents owned a 36-acre plot of land about an hour north of Pittsburgh. We called it "The Farm" even though nothing was planted or harvested, except memories. From the time I was four until an early teen, I spent two weeks every summer here with my parents, brothers, uncle, and grandparents. Some fifty-five years later, that time is still nothing but golden memories for me.For a child of today, the conditions would seem unbearable. There was no electricity or running water. Cooking was done on a substantial wood-burning stove or over a fire pit. The bathroom was a rickety outhouse down a path. Water was pumped from a well.
Kerosene lamps were used after to dark keep downstairs pleasant. The adults read, played cards, or talked. My brothers and I would play with simple toys or listen to the stories my uncle would tell. Upstairs, a flashlight was the light source if a trip to the privy was required. I remember falling asleep listening to squirrels (or something small) run around in the attic above my head.
I would awake each morning to the smell of my grandfather boiling coffee and frying bacon over the outside fire pit. Coffee grounds and cold water would be dumped together in a pot and placed over the fire. Eventually, a robust smelling brew would be passed around to the adults to jump-start their mornings. The younger set settled for orange juice and cereal from the icebox (with a real block of ice).
Days were spent sitting under the large trees listening to the adults talk. Obviously, there was no television and only a battery-operated radio, so days were filled with conversation. I remember my grandfather had an outbuilding that was packed to the rafters with old tools and all the things needed to maintain the property. Being the oldest, occasionally, I was allowed inside the shed to watch him built or repair something with tools that probably came from his father.
My uncle was our primary source of entertainment. Not only did he tell great stories but helped us "improve" the land. Each summer, we would plan for some paths through the woods and fields all over the property and then proceed to lightly trim a path. We gave them names, like Lowry Lane or Munn Boulevard. Of course, each summer, these paths had to be rebuilt, but that didn't seem to bother us. The hard work kept us busy and produced tired little boys each evening.
Near the end of each year's stay, we would have our big adventure: walking to the small town of Mars for ice cream cones. Since it was five miles from the farm, for the first several years, we only made it part of the way. After an hour of trudging down the dirt roads with mom and dad alongside us, grandad would pull up in his car, pick us up, and take us to the general store for ice cream. Each year he'd tell us how far we had managed to walk in the allotted time.
Over the past several years, as close as I could get to the experience of the farm was RV travel. The campgrounds satisfied my need to be surrounded by nature. The freedom of rolling down a back road reminded me, for just a moment, of the walk for ice cream down a dirt road near Mars, Pennsylvania.
|Mom and I salute the flag on the 4th of July at The Farm|
What childhood memories come to mind for you?