Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Long Road Home

So, I just got home last night from a trip down memory lane. I won't even go into the white-knuckle drive home over Lookout Pass late last night but, suffice it say, the extra money it would have taken to fly roundtrip from Missoula would have been worth double the amount! Note to self, Montana still gets snowstorms in late March so plan accordingly.

Memory lane was actually my late grandparents' old farm in West Texas, Circleback area to be specific, where my dad was raised. Don't worry if you're not familiar with it as it's just a crossroads in the middle of acres and acres of farmland. I was lucky enough to spend some of my early summers there, running wild through the corn and cotton fields, swinging in a tire swing in a tree next to the house, slurping down Big Red soda (anyone familiar with it?), eating watermelon fresh from the garden and whittling sticks on the front porch with Grandpa and my brothers. Well, as it happens, life goes on, grandparents pass away and farms are sold but, as it also happens, people like to return to their roots so, on a blustery March day, my dad, my brothers and I made a pilgrimage to our old stomping grounds.

The farm has been deserted now for 30 years but it's funny how the memories still linger. The front porch is still there where we sat and whittled happily away, the tree with the tire swing has fallen over and been sandblasted by the blowing sand but I could almost see the tire swinging in the wind. The chicken coop where my brother, Michael, once got himself trapped inside is still standing silently in the corner behind the house and, if you listened closely, you could still imagine the clucking of the hens who once lived there. The screen door that lead to the kitchen was hanging listlessly from it's frame but the squeak of the spring and the happy slap it used to make as we ran in from a summer's thunderstorm still rang in my mind.

As for the farmhouse, it is a silent sentinel surrounded by land that has been placed in the soil bank and which has been allowed to return to the native grasses of the plains. No one comes to visit any more except for the coyotes and other creatures who wander through occasionally. It just sits there quietly, waiting. But the memories; the good and the bad, the ones of working the land through brutal winters and even crueler summers, of families, of children wrestling, fighting, laughing, loving, of friends and family visits, of lessons that snapping turtles really do snap and rattlesnakes are nothing to mess with, and of finding out that there is a big, wide world out there just beyond the horizon, and discovering that the road home is a long one.....yea, those memories still linger....


Rosie said...

Hi Montana4me : I'm new to blotanical and just visiting sites and your post struck a cord in me. I am a farmer from Nova Scotia Canada and have been all my life, we are getting fewer and fewer so yes many people have fond memories of halcyon days spent visiting the farm of a relative even if they didnot live on one themselves. Unfortunately this way of life is coming to an end and younger generations are growing up far removed from their roots planted in the rich soil of our farming heritage. Thank you for a poignant posting , will drop by and see you again - Rosie -

Montana4me said...

I've learned that it takes a strong and special person to get up every day and make magic out of what nature throws at you and then wake up the next morning and do it all over again. May your farm be prosperous, Rosie, and your life full. Thanks for your comment.


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