Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reflections of the Land of My Heart...

"Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven~
In a series of strange events I have found myself the keeper of my grandmothers cottage in the country. I have resisted the responsibility for as long as I could until last week when Handy Hubby made me pay up on my promise that as soon as the holidays were over and the new year begun I really truly would go up and do the necessary things that were needed to ensure that it did not fall into ruin.I had yet to make a visit back there that it did not overwhelm me with sadness but two years is long enough to leave things unattended and I knew in my heart it was time. The day was beautiful with brilliant blue skies and saffron sunshine warming the wind a bit. I determined I would have a good attitude and prayed to be filled with happy memories in lieu of sadness.As we twisted and turned from one red dirt road to the next and crested the ridge where you can look across the valley and see my grandmothers house, I looked hopefully, fully expecting to see the brilliant flash of her signature red bib style apron as she stood hands held behind her back rocking back and forth from heel to toe listening to the rumble from the upper road knowing we would be arriving in a few minutes as she had so often done. I did see a flash of red but it was from a plump Cardinal who flew alongside us and somehow just seeing the color was comforting.Upon arrival with a deep breath and a big sigh I slid from the truck seat and my feet connected with the land of my heart. I was home. I have never lived there but it is more home than any other place on earth for me. I drank in my fill of sweeping hay fields, distant mountains, and deeply wooded hollows where a singing creek runs.We bypassed the house and garden shed... heading straight for the old iron gate... leading into the back hay field wanting to first see what would be needed to stabilize and repair the old barn. This is the only structure from the original homestead site still standing. It was built by hand by my great grandfather. Timber from the property was cut to form the notched log walls with milled oak siding covering the logs. A side shed or lean to was added at a later date.I walked out to the pond... remembering the summer my cousins and I were so small and the hay so tall we could walk through it without being seen. We proceeded to make tunnels in the hay by smashing it down until our Uncle Charlie caught us. Lets just say our tunnel making days abruptly ended.

I stood on the edge of the pond as the wind whipped my coat open and the ends of my scarf fluttered around me like the wings of a great and colorful bird. I closed my eyes and listened to wind run rustling through the dried grasses, its raspy song swishing sweetly around my feet, a lullaby to my listening ears.
I looked at my shadow extended out in front of me laying on top of the grass... and laughed out loud as my coat and scarf spread once more ballooning and billowing out leaving what appeared to be a tiny pin head resting on top. How many times, I though, had I walked these same fields with her shadow cast beside mine? So many sweet memories, as numerous as the strands of golden grass covering just this one filed in which I stood. Each dancing blade representing a happy thought.With one last look at the distant mountains... and still avoiding the house, I skirted the field and suggested we walk over to The Old House site. I knew that time and weather had changed the landscape and that what I saw in my mind and heart would not be there, at least not as they were. As we passed the native stone fences... bordering much of the property, also placed there by great grandfather, I thought of all the hard labor it must have been to haul the stone from the creek bed and fields to dry stack the fence. A necessary labor to keep the cattle in, just as the task before me was a necessary labor to keep the family home preserved. Hard indeed but necessary.

We passed the tractor shed and hay barn...
to come to the top of the hill that now looks like a gentle slope rather than the rutted dirt road of my memory. I noted that two of the towering trees that bordered the gate have returned to the earth from which they sprung leaving an odd barren feeling much like the one in the wake of my grandmother returning to her maker.

The giant old Oak that stood sheltering the house had also succumbed to nature but the big Sweet Gum was still offering its stately shelter...
As I came to the last curve before entering what would have been the yard I stood seeing not what lay before me but what had been in the past.A big rustic barn stood in the now empty field where dust motes danced, sweet smelling hay was lofted, and the ping of fresh from the cow milk was hitting the insides of a tin bucket. There were pigs in a pen and an old mule braying in the barnyard. Smoke drifted gently from the smoke house where slabs of fresh meat hung. Hens fluttered as a rooster strutted across the bare dirt pen in front of the chicken house.

Turning I did not see the heap of broken rotten wood and tumbled stone but a tiny little house, silvered with age where so many happy memories were made. The giant trees that anchored the corner of the fence around the yard were not toppled...
but standing straight and tall guarding the old wooden table that made up my playhouse area.

Granny's old wood burning stove did not lay all akimbo on the lawn but was warming water in the reservoir and baking bread.
The old tin cupboards were not empty and sagging but filled with common dishes that are considered collectible today. The beds were not bare rusty springs but bouncy and feathery soft, covered in handmade quilts. The side window in which you would always peer through to see what company was coming down off the hill still held its wavy glass. I did not see a heap of rubble before me... for it was veiled with the sweet stirrings of sights and sounds and seasons of days gone by. All was as it should be with the past and the present intermingling, weaving themselves into the future.

Slowly climbing back up the hill...
to face the last task of stepping across the threshold of the home that housed one of the most beloved blessings of my life no longer seemed so daunting. I had faced the changes of the distant past and knew I could do so with the not so distant present with the same vision of not what was before me but of what had been.

With a deep breath and a big sigh I stepped from the red dirt road onto the first of the stepping stones that lead up the front door. My feet once again connected with the land of my heart, my prayer was answered, and I was once again home.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

32 comments:

Lorrie said...

This is beautiful, Sandy. What wonderful memories you have conveyed to us. Thank you so much for sharing this day with us.

Lorrie

Mildred said...

Your words are so descriptive that I felt like I was in the distance watching you re-live your fond memories. A bittersweet time for sure, but I am glad you have such beloved memories to fill your heart. God bless Miss Sandy.

Catherine Holman said...

I've always said how beautifully you write, but this was the best ever.
Hugs,
Cathie

Vee said...

Beautifully told...

Charlene said...

Sandy, this has truly touched my soul. You feel the same LOVE for your Grandmother I did for mine! Will the feeling of loss ever go away(it's been over 20 years)? I seem to miss her more now than in the begining!!!! Thank you for such a beautiful post & for touching my heart as you did. A true friend of the soul we are now. Hope you are staying warm. THANK YOU! HUGS!
Charlene

Tracy Suzanne said...

Dear Sweet Sandy. Your words are so special, so heartfelt. I also felt like I was with you on your visit to the past and present. You write beautifully.

I know how hard it is to go back and face these things. I had a very hard time going to my parents house once they pasted. It's funny how much more we appreciate all those simple things and find the beauty in them once they are forever gone.

Good luck with your task and blessings to you and your family. Hugs...Tracy :)

sonya said...

Sandy,how wonderful for you to have had a relationship like you had with your grandmother.I thank you for sharing it with us. And maybe not only were you feeling your memories but your Grandma's presence too. Everytime the wind blew.
When you described your Grandmother in the past post, it reminded me of my step-mother. Who was like a grandmother because she was quite a bit older than me. She was raised in Oklahoma and I loved listening to her stories and wished I could have been there. I miss her everyday. When I read about your day it brought memories back and I cried. Such special times with precious people. Thank you again.
God Bless, Sonya

Myrnie said...

I'm so glad you had such a wonderful grandmother, and a wonderful day to remember her and your roots. Thank you for sharing!

Myrnie

The French Bear said...

How beautiful, a lovely story full of emotion and love.... such a wonderful trip back in time...... remembering the past and all the delights you enjoyed as a child.
Hugs,
Margaret B

Lululiz said...

Just beautiful.

Bonita said...

You've been given a wonderful gift, Sandy. I know it's hard to go there, but as I read your poetic words I was enraptured. You took us back there and all I could think the whole time I read the post is I want to read the book. I want to read all the memories. I want you to take me back there and show me more than the things. I want to hear the voices, live the memories, be transported to another place in time. There's a book there, Sandy. Somewhere between the beautiful landscapes and the rusty, broken down things, there is a story that only you can tell. Write it. Please.

Diane said...

Sandy, take heart...the memories are still there, the land too....

My grandparents' home, where many of my memories reside, was razed for a highway...all gone but the pictures in my mind. With 10 children and so many grand and great-grandchildren, neices, nephews....their effects are in places unknown.

As you...I long to see her chubby little, apron-draped figure, her slippers on her feet that were always sore...walking out of the chicken house with a basket of eggs that I helped her collect...

These memories of yours, Sandy, their origins, are what helped you become what you are today.
I've only been here a few times in the past week, just having found your blog, but I can already tell that your grandmother would be very, very proud of you!

Blessings,
Diane

Kim said...

you touched my soul. thank you.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for a moment of serenity in a busy day - I work in a high school health room and your post took me away, let me breathe, pray and enjoy beauty. Jennifer

Jenny said...

This is absolutely, absolutely beautiful. My friend sent me this link and I am so glad she did. I am now a follower!

Jonny said...

Wow! You are a beautiful writer if this post was a book I would not put it down in fact I didnt want it to end. It was sad to see, but loved to hear how you remembered everthing. Your writing can carry away the viewer I actually could vision your words, a great talent you have. I have deeply enjoyed my visit. Thank You ,Jonny

Andylynne said...

Good job, following through on your promise. Even knowing what it might mean to do so. Beautiful description, and the land is stunning. Overwhelmed with emotion you were able to transfer it and share what you were feeling. God is good to us isn't he. I hope your able to see what can be done and see what the future holds for that dear beautiful place.

LiLi M. said...

You have a golden quill if I may say so, Miss Sandy! This story touched my soul and not only mine as I read in comments before mine. I just love to accompagny you on this trip and looking through your eyes, thanks for sharing!

Celestial Charms said...

Your style of writing is so lovely. Your words flow from your heart, and I consider it a privilege to be able to read them.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Maureen

Holly said...

All I can add is: beautiful. . .

Thank you for taking us along on your journey!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Well if ever there was a sign from Heaven I think that red cardinal was one sweet thank you. Sometimes the things we are most resistant to become the most precious to our hearts.

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. It brought to mind memories of visiting my grandparents old farm when I was a child. The landscape even looks similar. Thanks for sharing.
Blessings,
Marcia

mary beth said...

Thank you so much for sharing the images and words with us...they reminded me so much of my Dad's place...he grew up there and moved back there after my mom died, and it is such a special place in my memories. You have quite a job ahead of you but you will be so glad you saved what you could. Love you blog and will be visiting here every chance I get!

chicroses said...

Beautifully written.What a wonderful homestead. I would go live there as I grew up on a farm and we have downsized to a lot in houseing community.I still fantasize about having sheep turkeys and land. Those sheds are just what I grew up with and after my mom and dad passed siblings and I sold the place..I kept waiting to see your grandmothers house. But what I did see were those bedsprings. My sister at halloween and thanksgiving had 3 bedsprings with small pumpkins sitting on them..so darling..now Im out to find me some springs. Sally

Fete et Fleur said...

Beautiful! The photos and words made this a song to my eyes.

Nancy

Shopgirl said...

Thank you for taking me on this adventure into the past and back to the future. My Grandmother raised me, so I understand the love. You took me there...
Love, Mary

Linda said...

Dear Miss Sandy,
I have to read this one again and again - it's the lifelong call of my heart to be connected to those dear places of yesteryear and your beautiful tale recalls to mind for me, so many of the places I hold dear to my heart because of the memories of loved ones and heritage. I would have loved to have inherited some piece of land connected to our family - unfortunately, none are available and most contain nothing of the former.

Thank you so much for writing this beautiful story and I enjoyed the photos as well.

Blessings, Linda

Ginger said...

Just found your blog; I loved this post. It transported me back to both the farm where I grew up and my mother's homeplace (home to my aunt and uncle many years) and all the sweet memories I have of those people and places.

Laurie said...

Sandy, it is a bittersweet blessing to return "home"; thank you for taking us with you.

Deborah said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your grandmother and to "home" wherever each individual finds it. Thank you for sharing. I was trying to sign up for your Valentine giveaway above but comments have been disabled. Are you no longer taking entries? If you still are, please let me know so I can sign up.

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Teary eyed. Your post is so beautiful. It not only conveys the love and care you shared in your childhood, but also magically connects me to mine. God has given you a big gift, dear M.S. I am looking forward to seeing what He does with it in a big way! xo Lidy

Tricia said...

I read this post a couple of weeks ago (or more) and I was so touched by it. I wanted to comment, but my heart was too full. Somehow, in reading your post, I took a similar walk in my minds eye through the farm of my beloved "Mamaw" where I spent hundreds of wonderful hours and felt the most loved I have ever felt. She is gone now and so is her house. It burned to the ground a long time ago, along with photos, furniture and all keepsakes. I haven't been back in many years although my brother and I share ownership of the old homestead property. Your story was told beautifully and somehow connected to me in a wonderful, yet bittersweet way. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

Blessings,
Tricia

Oh, and I did one small post once on my blog about Mamaw's Table. You can find it here if you have any interest.
http://alteredschoolmarm.blogspot.com/2005/11/mamaws-table.html

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