Monday, August 3, 2009

Family Reunion

The kids kept themselves entertained.

This little fellow, my first cousin once removed, was pleased with himself when he quickly mastered the rolling of this barrell. "It's easy," he told me when I gushed in admiration of his impressive skills.

We gathered with Mom's side of the family over the weekend, at my uncle's farm. The old house I remember staying at as a small child is long gone but the memories of it remain vivid.

I remember being awake in the morning when the rooms were still cool, and staying in bed while Grandpa started a fire in the cookstove and warmed the place up. I remember the upstairs bedroom we stayed in when we visited. And being in Grandma and Grandpa's bedroom off the kitchen, and a necklace of plastic pearls, and the smell of Noxzema.

I remember the freestanding wooden cupboard in the kitchen, the hand pump that brought water into the sink, and the tin dipper for drinking water. To this day, when I hear a fly buzzing on a hot day, it reminds me of being outside on the front porch. And I still dream of lying on a hammock consisting of an old mattress slung on a chain between two mature spruce trees, like the one I whiled happy times away on as a little kid.

Oh, lots of great memories. The old house was on a hill, and between the house and Grandpa's workshop at the bottom of the hill was a clothesline. Two wire lines it had, held up on each end by two pink poles. Between each set of poles Grandpa had made a swing with a thick scratchy rope; notched at each end to hold the rope, a length of lumber provided each swing's seat. This was one of the playgrounds my sister Karen and I enjoyed when we were there, which I imagine was fairly often. I remember her and I, neither of us yet school age, running naked out in the rain.

Indoors, there was a bottom-heavy clown toy and the numerous little round plastic medallions that came in foil bags of Hostess potato chips. On each side, the medallions had paper illustrations of old cars, if I recall correctly.

Karen and I had grey plastic "wigs" in the style of little old ladies who wore their hair up in buns. Karen carried a chicken around in her arms. We rode on the stoneboat behind the tractor, picking stones and coming in dirt-black.

Grandpa hollowed out a length of log, bored a small hole in it, made a perch, a floor and a slanted roof, which he painted red, and nailed it to a tree for the wrens. That birdhouse went with him and Grandma when they moved to town and is still nailed to a tree outside the back door there.