Thursday, December 17, 2009

Revisiting


For years, I had imagined what it would be like to see the old cabin.  The place where pa and I got up every morning at sunrise to clear our land, plow rows into the fields and plant seeds that would grow to that year’s crop of corn or wheat.  Nestled up against the foothills, we worked about twenty acres, most of which was good for planting. 

We had two dogs when I was growing up; one a white Lab, and the other an English boxer.  The boxer could never keep up with the lab, but always put his heart into trying.  I remember, when I wasn’t working, walking the perimeter of our land and just pondering throughts for hours.  Our property wasn’t defined by fences, but like our neighbors, we knew where ours ended and theirs picked up.

There was a row of old Oak trees on the Eastern side of our property, and on the West, it rather sank into furrows that were like little canyons.  We didn’t need to go in that direction because there was nowhere to plant anything there.  On the Northern side was the only dirt road that lead into our area with a train track that occasionally hauled oil out of the areas East, and the foothills were to the South.  And that’s where the cabin was.

The cabin was all of but three rooms.  The main room, you entered up steps, which were chiseled out of rock, which my father’s grandfather had made by hand, and you came into what were both our living room and our kitchen.  The kitchen took up one little corner of the room; a small, wood burning stove, and a small wood table with our eating chairs around it.

The rest of the room had a bed for my sister Kendra and me, two more chairs, and a black potbelly heater.  That’s what kept us warm during the barren winter months.  Another room was a very small bathroom, which had a toilet with a cistern, and a washbasin.  And finally, there was pa and ma’s bedroom, just big enough for a small bed and one old wooden dresser to put things into.

My memories of this place are mostly fond.  I didn’t get into much trouble and I worked hard with pa most days raising and harvesting the crops while ma and my sister sewed clothes for us and prepared our meals.  We didn’t have a lot of folks pass through our way except for the Holidays when pa’s friends from the old country sometimes tracked him down and shared some whiskey or bourbon with him and had a good old time.  I liked seeing my pa happy.

Ma and pa put up with a lot of my fussing with my sister.  She and I used to get into it a little just to pass the time; teasing each other, hiding each other’s things.  All good fun, but I can see now that at a time when the family was barely making enough to live on, pa must have wanted me to get more serious on things from time to time.

When I got of age and went into the U.S. Army and then onto get some schooling in, and started my own family seven-hundred miles from where I grew up.  And now, with both ma and pa being gone, and laying my eyes on our old land, it makes me a little sad.  There is now a proper farmhouse on the property, farther North than where the cabin still sits.  But the cabin is now in disrepair and vacant.  Its roof’s slats are falling off one by one, and there are weeds and other various wild things growing and living in it now. 

And it all seems to appear to have been such a “small” life.  Everything we did together was in and around this little cabin under a huge blue sky, and with the hills looking at us from above. With all that I have seen and all the people I have known since then, well, it makes this little twenty acres we had seem so insignificant on the face of it.  But in my heart I know better.  It was the most significant time in our lives.