In my post from Tuesday (that should have gone up Monday, but was delayed), I talked briefly about all the fruit we have at our new place and how it reminded me of summers at my grandparents’ farm. I’d intended to get back to that in my post from yesterday (again, delayed), but I ended up going a different direction. So today, let’s take that trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.
My grandparents lived on a farm about half an hour away from us. My grandmother lived all but six months of her life on that farm, as it had been passed down through the years from one generation to the next. It’s a century farm, and I’m proud to be part of that tradition, even though the acreage has been sold off and all that’s left now is crop ground. I’d like to someday buy the acreage back, but so far, no luck (the one time it was up for sale, the timing was just not right and we couldn’t do it *sigh*).
When I was little, the acreage included much more than it does now. When you turned in the driveway, the house was on the right and the old garage was on the left. The old garage has now been leveled, but the foundation remains, and the new owners put up a basketball hoop. Just west of the old garage was a corn crib, which I believe still stands, and to the west of that was a barn. It was lost in a fire several years ago – the new people had heating lamps in the barn for some animals, and somehow the place caught fire. If it hadn’t been for a passing fireman, of all people, the whole farm might have burned.
To the west of the house stood my grandfather’s wood shop. He loved working with wood, and he was quite good at it, too – half of my furniture was made by him. When I was little, he would sometimes let me help with things he was working on – I remember the first time I cut a Christmas ornament on his jigsaw, and the first time he let me use his woodburner to write a message on a keychain, and his large assortment of paints, all coded with a drop of paint on the cap.
Across from the wood shop was a swingset. I think he must have made it himself, because I’ve never seen a teeter totter so tall (and it led to crushing disappointment with every other teeter totter I’ve ever encountered). The up end was at least six feet off the ground, but it always felt higher. West of the wood shop was a huge machine shed; south of that, at the end of the driveway, sat the shop where Grandpa ran his small engine repair business. I still think of him every time I smell that shop scent; I spent countless hours in there “helping” Grandpa with his various projects.
If not for Grandpa, I might not have learned the proper pronunciation of Tecumseh till I was much older. 😀
There was another old out-building behind that, and further to the west were a couple of old foundations from buildings that were long gone by the time I came along. One was the foundation for an old silo, and even though we weren’t supposed to, my sister and I loved playing on it. Of course, the metal did tend to burn one’s feet, so you had to be careful…
They also had a well. The novelty of drinking well water thrilled me to pieces, and I still think of that metallic taste the water had with a sense of satisfaction.
But the best part about Grandpa and Grandma’s house was that it was flanked by trees. On the west, there was a grove full of trees just begging to be explored, and on the east, there was an orchard. When I was little, there were rows and rows of apple trees. I remember a plum tree and a cherry tree, too, though they both bit the dust when I was pretty little. Grandma always had a huge garden, and it lay on the south side of the orchard. When I was little, my uncle used to plant pumpkins in it and they would grow to enormous size (or at least they were enormous to me – I have a picture of me when I was three where I fit entirely on top of the pumpkin). I remember one time my sister and I were helping Grandpa dig potatoes when a hapless garter snake passed my sister. She flipped out! She and Grandma shared the opinion that the only good snake is a dead snake, and she wouldn’t rest till Grandpa had speared it with his pitchfork.
In the grove, though, is where the best fruit could be found. Raspberry brambles grew along the side of the machine shed, twining their way around the mulberry trees that edged the grove. On the north side of the grove, elderberry bushes grew along the edge of the ditch. I was always afraid to pick those, though, because as a kid, I couldn’t tell the difference between elderberries and nightshade, but I knew I didn’t want to eat nightshade. I could sometimes talk my dad into picking a few elderberries for me, but more often than not, he ate them on the way back and I got maybe one.
Our new house already has a handful of apple trees and a lovely big rhubarb plant, too. I’m particularly excited about the rhubarb, because then I won’t have to worry about killing it while trying to establish it like I did the last time (me and my black thumb), and I love strawberry rhubarb sauce. There are also some raspberry brambles, and we’ve talked about transplanting some of the bushes that Seymour’s parents have at their house. I adore raspberries, so I don’t think it’s possible to have too many of them. But I also want to plant some mulberry trees, and when I said so, I was surprised to learn that Seymour had never had mulberries. I’m not sure where we’ll plant the trees, but there seem to be quite a few dying trees on the property, so maybe we can just replace them with mulberry trees… 😀
(c) 2013. All rights reserved.