Monday, June 2, 2014

Down on the Farm

Emil lives for seeing Uncle Neil. 

He talked Rose's ear off and ignored Neil.
Not really. He gave Rose's attention a good workout too.

The house behind them sits at the bottom of the hill where Grandma and Grandpa's old farmhouse was. That's where my sister Karen and I spent a lot of happy times. A lot.

There was a double clothesline with two pink posts at either end. Someone — probably Grandpa (also named Emil) — had hung a thick loop of rope and made nicks in the ends of a board to craft a swing for each pair of posts. Oh the hours we spent there, my sister Karen and I!

Karen often carried a hen in her arms when we were roaming about the yard.

Neil, who would have been about 13 then, had a hammock made from a double mattress between two evergreens on the hill near the house, slung there on heavy chains. Many happy hours there, too, Karen and me.

I remember the rooms of the house, and Grandpa's dark workshop. I remember him out there making a birdhouse from a hollow chunk of tree trunk and two pieces of plywood (a floor and an angled roof; he painted those red, and varnished the trunk; Neil has made one just like it minus the red and it's on a post in their yard), and I remember the smell of the workshop and the old clamp fastened to Grandpa's workbench.

Where Neil and Rose's house sits now was very near the place that the chicken coop was.

There was a toy cupboard in a wall of the living room, near the oil furnace that sat on the linoleum floor at the back of the room; among the toys on the shelves was one I can't name. It was a clown with a round yellow bottom* so it rocked when sat on the floor and given a push. I've never seen another one like it.

Hostess potato chips in their foil bags were a common treat, with their plastic coin "prizes" in the bottom that had a car illustration glued to them.

There was a woodstove in the kitchen, with a warm water reservoir. Beside it was sink with a hand-pump, and on an adjacent wall there was a freestanding cabinet for the dishes.

I remember Grandma in their bedroom off the kitchen, her string of white plastic pearls, her Noxzema. I remember being tucked warmly in bed upstairs in the morning before the house was heated up; Karen next to me, of course. Little sisters -- ya just can't shake 'em. Hee! Actually she was a perfect companion then, and still is.

Lots of happy memories, that's for sure.

In the upstairs bedroom, the smell of cedar from inside the slant-front desk; the beaded moosehide bookends (which I have and treasure, though they need repair; I won't let them go anywhere just in case I don't get them back); Karen's green dress and my purple one, and both of us wearing grey plastic old-lady wigs; and we two little girls running naked in a warm rain.

When I hear a screen door slam, or a fly buzzing on a hot day, it takes me back there. Those were some of the good times and they are probably why I love where I live.

*Email from Aunt Reta: "The toy was called a rolly polly, given to Neil when he was 1 yr old."

Thanks Reta, with the name I was able to do a search and found this: