Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some of the Way Back When Pieces of the Big Picture

Like my house cleaning, the blog frequency lately has been rather all-or-nothing. If I make it here, it's a stolen writing respite :)

I was thinking back on what attuned me the direction we desire to continue moving...something that has pulled me like a magnet throughout the years. It seems it was semi-derailed, or maybe just found alternate expressions in my former marriage. I wrongly assumed there was a kindred spirit toward things like gardening, DIY, rural living, returning to natural and traditional foods/skills/medicines/prevention...even physical labor. I assumed, since his parents were SO WONDERFULLY living that way, that was a shared love. Well, NO...hard lesson learned. But I concentrated on other things to make a warm home, and I do not regret a single moment staying home with my daughter, learning to be economical, being creative, homeschooling (in her early years...for the long term, I'm convinced BOTH parents have to be on board)...and so on.

I had married for keeps, and never anticipated at this point in my life the possibility I'd be writing about former things, meaning a past marriage. But I will say that God gives much graciousness and remembers us during the hardest of times, and I feel honored He gave me this second opportunity. He brought me my present husband, and has taught me many things in the process. Hopefully I'm a wiser person for it, but definately grateful. In the few years J and I have been married, we've had the real joy of realizing that we LOVE the same sort of lifestyle and desire the same sorts of things in some real specifics we'd never before been able to have a partner to share in. I'm determined not to pull in an opposite direction as my husband, and all the things he encourages me in uphold me as an individual. But we're definately a team, and I suppose this is what family it together.

I could write so much more about J, but my original intent with this entry was to try to remember bits and pieces of things that contributed to my lifelong love of returning to a different lifestyle. I meaning "returning to" in the sense of something that was taken for granted before "modernization." I remember my grandma heartily laughing at our talking about what we kids had termed the "good old days." She said she appreciates the conveniences that helped her save time, and never had any longings to return to cooking solely on a wood cookstove, that I can remember. But my grandparents were Depression era people, and knew the art of saving...EVERYTHING. They epitomized "frugal" without it meaning sloppiness or neglect. They just buckled down and did things themselves...grew their food, did their own carpentry, side craft-projects, house repairs and renovations, land upkeep, mending, car and machine repairs. They worshipped fairly often in a simple country church, but more often their simple faith was best expressed just by being the people they were...steady, honest to a fault, good neighbors, with quiet spirits and hearty laughs.

I suppose I'm trying to pull together scraps of things that even back then began adding up to the curiosity and desire that has lasted a lifetime.

Here's a very incomplete list:

1. Lying in the grass as a very small child and watching the clouds...for hours.
2. For hours, as a child, watching...just watching and learning...things like ants, all the crawly things that made the soil alive in garden soil, watching the cat hide/carefor/nurse regular litters of kittens
3. Growing my first plant from seeds. I remember they were pansies, watched daily, grown in styrofoam cups in kindergarten. I was so thrilled when it bloomed, and so devastated when I carried it home, but on the way home a boy in the carpool was being rough and kicked it over and it spilled all over the back seat and was crushed. After that, my parents let me have my own little corner of the flower bed to grow some more. I'd water it with the hose, and they were my first growing things.
4. Berries, and warnings that unknown ones were poisonous. Wondering how the birds managed to eat them and know the difference, since I didnt see the birds dying from them.
5. Picking up grandpa and I did this when we'd walk down the road together. He'd put them in his pockets and save them up. After a time, he'd put them in a rock polisher. They were our treasures.
6. Raising my kitten Rusty from runthood. He used to sleep in my jacket all those long days playing outside. When he was grown, he answered only to me, and I could call him loudly and hear him crashing through the bushes several streets over. It was like being Tarzan and doing the Lord of the Jungle
7. Raising and training our Elkhound, who looked wolflike, and also was bonded to me. Probably because kids (in our house at least) were made to stay outside instead of inside, so Nikki and I went for a lot of walks, exploring. Nobody messed with me...he looked too mean.
8. The facsimile journals of the American explorers, or at least folks along the lines of Kit Carson, Lewis and Clark, and I cant remember the exact others, but I looooooooved these. I'd sit under the hawthorne bush at my grandparents' with a cookie and "explore" through history, in the actual diary copies. Amazing. Eye-opening.
9. Handmade projects my mother would propose we all do before the holidays. She went all out at Christmas. It feels strange to reminisce about something I no longer celebrate now that I'm Jewish, but I cherish the memories of family. Usually, the projects were our way of economizing rather than buying store-bought. Some of the handmade items through the years I can remember were...quilts, appliqued pillows, photo collections arranged into scrapbooks, eggs blown hollow and made into baskets of eggs, decoupaged items, handbaked items, drawings, and so on.
10. Endless books about horses. I seemed to have been born with an obsession with horses from my earliest memory.
11. Flipper, Fury, Lassie, The Waltons, Bonanza...the end. We didtn watch much TV.
12. Numerous projects out on land. My parents bought several acres they readied for us to relocate to some day. We never did. But oh the work we did there. I do remember muscadine vines, an orchard of old pecan trees (and a million branches to be picked up), and burn piles from the brush that was cleared. And the time it got out of control and we nearly burned down the surrounding county.
13. Wearing rubber work boots that go ka-FLOP, ka-FLOP when your legs are too short and they boots are for adults.
14. The aura of the old hardware store and all the seed packets and hanging tools. And the glass globed lanterns.
15. Riding in the back of the pickup truck...before it was a crime ;-)
16. Hanging clothes on the clothes line.
17. Raising baby ducks and finding out how quickly they grow... and how instantly they know how to swim.
18. Sitting on my grandparents' back porch shelling or snapping endless containers of snap beans, peas, etc. Watching the hummingbirds on the trumpet vine and feeder and the woodpeckers and the progression of birds of all sorts. My grandpa was a bird lover.
19. Collecting wheat pennies in an old metal milk can that was used as a doorstop.
20. Cutting out the wormy parts of the peaches grown from the old peach trees that never got sprayed.
21. Watching my grandpa shoot buckshot at the stray dogs that tried to dig up the newly planted garden
22. The grape arbor and tasting an unripe grape...whew!
23. The two wisteria "trees" hanging with blooms and adored by fat bumblebees. The trees literally hummed with them.
24. Making clover flower chains for necklaces and tiaras, and old drapes for long hair.
25. Handmade swing suspended from the biggest tree branch
26. Drinking from the garden hose
27. Looking for four leafed clover
28. Trying to play croquet...and pretty much being bored to death with it, lol
29. Playing chinese checkers in the evenings with my grandma...or american checkers, on a wooded checkerboard nearly as big as the top of a card table. She was stealthy and ruthless...ha!
30. Sunburns and bubble baths of Palmolive dish detergent and really fresh, line-dried sheets at bedtime..white cotton...that grandma always had ironed. They felt so cold on those sunburns
31. hearing the bob-whites, trees creaking and leaves whispering, whip-poor-wills, and mourning doves at the end of the day
32. hearing the morning clatter of skillet and stove in the early morning when grandma started breakfast

There's more...those are mostly young childhood. Just making a note of many of the snapshots stored in my memory. It's interesting...most of my childhood was tumultuous...most of these wonderful times were few and far between, at my grandparents when we visited. They are truly gifts, and I cherish them.

What are some of your moments ?

Going to go tend to the soups. Homemade soups mean love :) and my girl is in need of some chicken soup TLC. Can't say it would hurt J and me much, either ;-)


Anonymous said...

I share a lot of the same types of grandma and grandpa related childhood memories as you do. I also noticed a similarity between our childhood memories and my childrens current outdoor exploration, and I'm grateful for that. It's a rare thing nowadays it seems.

Phelan said...

Most mine would be of injuries. ha! go figure.

Like my mother running over my head with a bike.

or when she drove off on my first day of school, with my finger shut in the closed door.

but then there are the, catching toads wiht my father and placing them in the baby pool for safe keeping.

Stoping to gather blackberries that grew on the side of the road.

getting stranded in the middle of a lake in an inflatable boat.

Jo said...

I grew up on a farm...and most of my memories about the life there are related to my parents' feelings of being trapped in a life they didn't choose. They complained about never getting to go on vacation, working 7 days a week and long hours, unreliable prices for their product, etc. We kids worked and worked, and often when we worked together, we'd try to lie low and play some at the end of the task, so our parents thought we were still at it, and would not give us the next chore. I have to wonder whether our choice to move to the farm and get livestock was not at least in part an exercise of, simply, choosing. Almost like rewriting my own past the way I think--I hope--it can be, with two people doing it for the love of the life. We're not even a year in yet, but as we quickly heap on experiences, I am finding that we are (generally) making conscious choices motivated by our love of the agriculture.

Of course, we have the luxury of that love because right now we don't rely on our farm for income. It is still a "hobby."

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Hey Robbyn! Long time no chat.I think we have both been busy since the late spring. So how's it going? How is the land swap? I do check in periodically---but don't always leave a comment. One of those "want to know how everyones doing---but no time to chat" things :-D
By the way---are you going to get Soay sheep? Gulf coast natives might be a really good sheep to start with too. And yes, that would be the reason for the tarps--though Icelandics don't believe in tarps. They say they can still see/hear the other and so they just work to go through or tear down the offending object so they will be able to see better. At least mine do :-)