Back at the Farm

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A painting I gave to my sister of the old Farm House in Iowa.

It seems like yesterday when my sister and I lived on a farm in Iowa.  She was much more the farmer than I was.  I could do without the chores and the endless summer’s tending of the field’s grains and corn, baling of hay for the cattle’s tummies and gathering of strawberries, blackberries, vegetables, peaches and cherries.  Yet, as I look back it gave strength to our character and we carry a farming ethic, easily understood:  Get up and do!

If my parents went out-of-town for a day or a weekend, my sister and I were left to take care of everything.  My sister didn’t mind at all feeding the cattle, even though, one day they were so hungry and used to my father that they moved in to nudge her along.  I don’t think they meant    to harm, yet it is easy to get alarmed when six or so huge cattle come to you so you can’t move.   She knew to bounce a head  or two which would get their attention and when she proceeded they obeyed, although, I wonder would have been if they didn’t!  This was a job I stayed  far away.  So, I still had the pesky chickens to feed, water and collect their eggs.  Some hens would not move off their nest.  To gain access to their eggs I had to get my hand under them and let them know I was the boss.  I hated them because each one made me understand that they were the boss.

When winter came Iowa’s weather is a variety of condidiont:  cold and white, damp and grey, wet or dry.  Often when there was massive amounts of snow that fell, the quarter-mile journey to the main road from our house (sad the house sat dead center in a one hundred and sixty acre farm) made the trip to the road sometimes very ardurous.  If there was a blizzard with high banks of snow my father still expected my sister and I to attend school.  We had walk to the road, have our uncle pick us up and we would stay with him and my aunt.  In my young days I wasn’t too tall and with short legs.  My father was nearly six feet tall and had a wide gait.  My sister could follow his steps in the snow with great difficulty.   The snow was a foot or two high and as  I followed her I couldn’t move to well.  I got one foot up and into a deep boot print but  I couldn’t get the other leg up over the snow bank to go forward.  My father never thought about this and kept on going.  My sister, thank god looked back and saw my dilemma.  She yelled caustically for my father.  He returned to me and yanked me out of the snow drift.  He dragged me behind him and finally the road was insight.

In February and March that same path became soggy, deep ruts with mud and weeds.  The truck could barely make it to the road.  Sometimes it had difficulty.  Finally my father left   the truck at the road and walked back so that when it was necessary he could transport all of us with the tractor with a wagon behind.  One night we were all to be at the school.  We were to be well dressed and hope to stay that way in all the mud.

The wagon and tractor awaited my mother and I.  Momma had been having a lot of abdominal pains but she said she was going.  I felt so badly for her.  The wagon ride was rough and she asked me to place both of my fists in front of her and  then push her forward into the wagon to lessen the bounces.   We made it to the road and my took a few deep breaths and put on a smile as she walked into the school.

This scenario repeated itself every year.  On my seventeenth  year I left to go to a school in New Haven, Connecticut.    My sister had married and lived in Illinois.  Momma continue to endure until my father retired and sold the farm

Finally, we were all away from the farm.  My sister missed the farm.  My mother praised the day it was gone and I never looked back to a place that was never a happy place to me.

P.S.  Even though I never went back to Iowa to see the farm, the youthful time there  built a treasurer trove of fond memories..  My sister and I now reminiscence–two old farts sitting and jabbering about what tickled us back on the farm.

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Home is Everything–

Yesterday late in the day, we arrived in the car and momentarily waited on the driveway for the garage door to open, then after driving the car into the garage, I opened the door to alight and get Sousé out of the back seat.  Quickly, we made it up the ramp to the laundry room door, the door I looked forward to seeing for the past weeks and smiled because Sousé wiggled anxiously and gave me his gruntled meow to let me know of his impatience.  Stepping into the laundry room we both exhaled a giant sigh–we were home!!   As we moved into the family room, Sousé  meowed, “Migraults!”  Knowing better not to tarry,  I quickly set him down.   He raced at full  seal point speed to cross the family room and reach the kitchen, recognizing the track changed  from carpeting to slick tile and he knew he was in the last stretch.   As Sousé entered the kitchen I paused to make a clumsy, pirouette and before me the wall of glass continued to fuel my serenity through the windows prisms  highlighting the primary colored pillows in the room, the colors that my Mother chose to use to make the room as bright and cheerful as possible following her stroke.

Sousé beat me to the far side of the kitchen and sought to find his feeding and water station.  Immediately, a loud call from the master sounded……..this time  a demanding meowed,  “MiNukNot”, which means for me to get down to business.  I quickly get him water, not in his water bowl, but another  and ask that he be patient because the cat food is in the car.  “MarRook,” he answers and I know he has given me limited time to provide him with dinner.  If I am not back before his time clock strikes,  I know he will tell me he has been waiting long enough for dinner!!

Yes, the little demon was so good in the car (well as good as good can be after he let a little warm drizzle flow while sitting on M’s lap)  and waited the last hour without food when I told him he would eat at home and not in the car.  As I set the food on the floor, he pushed my hand away and gives me a quick “Guark”, the meow which tells me  thank-you.   His simple response makes me  realize our little cat is as happy as I am to be back in our home, his house, my house,!!

Darkness arrives soon after and reminds me how tired I am.   One stair at a time will bring  me to the second floor and as I climb the stairs I peer down to look where my Mother should have been.  Instead, I see Sousé curled up, with nose under paw, on his love seat  sleeping.  I bid Momma Good Night and touch my lips to throw a kiss and then continue on to bed.  Hastily, I ready the bed and myself to jump in side.  As I fall asleep, burrowed deeply under the covers,  I think about “Home” and its relationship to humans and pets.

Home is where I belong, where Sousé belongs.  It gives me my identity, a locus of security and a point of centering in our world.  Home is where I can kick off my shoes, fall on one of the sofas to rest and ignore the doorbell if I wish.   This place of “home”  surrounds me with memories, freedom, levels of thought and an environment of safety.  It is the place that is born of family traditions, of gaiety and sadness, of humor and bittersweet moments.

When I think of it those elements are much the same for Sousé.  It is the place he feels the most secure, has his secret hiding places in all the rooms and a stairwell to race up and then down or sit on the balcony and call till I look at him!

Home brings our special likes to mind and often makes us want them again.  Home is my Mother’s ravioli, gnocchi and sauce.  It is her smile and outstretched arms.  It is my understanding  of my Mother’s faith in her God and acceptance and curiousity in M’s Jewishness.  It is my creativity in unique entertaining that one day you may enjoy and it is my thoughts that you feel when you look at the art on the walls.

Home is the essence of Spring and Summer as you walk through my roses, bend to take a whiff and have a thorn catch you by surprise and so you continue on to an array of wild lilies, miniature apple trees, fresh strawberries, a peach tree and a changing carpet of colors from all the rest of the flowers.  It is also to walk the weaving fence of willow and feel their wispy branches move in the breeze and understand the sound you hear is their spirit speaking to you.

Home is everything I want and provides everything Sousé needs!
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