If I close my eyes I can transport myself back there in an instant.
I’m seven years old.
The kitchen smells of boiled potatoes, fried pork, dogs and barn boots. It’s a sweet scent of comfort and welcome.
The air is hot and moist from the cooking and simmering that’s gone on all day. A green kettle sits on the gas stove ready to heat water for tea.
There’s a worn old table surrounded by mismatched chairs. A brown cookie jar that looks like a hen sitting on her nest rests a top the table.
Behind the refrigerator, the kind with the freezer on the bottom, is a yard stick. A stick often threatened, but never actually used, on a gaggle of rowdy grandchildren.
There’s an old metal stool at one end of the table covered in peeling green paint. The seat spins. Sometimes it’s a merry-go-round for a bored kid. Grandma sits there peeling the potatoes that are served at almost every meal, usually mashed.
Oh, how I loved that week every summer when we stayed at Grandma’s house. For an only child lots of nearby cousins meant instant comrades. For a child who lived in town the farm meant new experiences and adventures. I fed calves with a bottle, watched chickens meet their fate at the end of an ax and run around headless. I climbed the hay elevator up to the loft, collected eggs from the hen house. An old pony, a pack of friendly dogs and a gang of ferocious barn cats provided hours of entertainment.
Grandma was the queen of all of it. The royal matriarch of this magical, rural realm.
When you’re seven your Grandma is your Fairy Godmother.
I think of this today as news comes that the farm is sold.
I’m no longer seven.
The house isn’t the same, because Grandma doesn’t live there anymore.
Grandma, who time is catching up with, isn’t the same.
Our family, changed by time and scattered by distance, isn’t the same.
But the memories remain.
I can recall so many details about the house and the farm. I can see every room of that house just as it was 29 years ago. Grandma’s rocking chair covered in green brocade. The painting of a barn hanging over the sofa. The cabinet the holds the flag presented to Grandma at Grandpa’s funeral.
I remember the dusty lane and how the field looked, green with growing corn stalks. I see the cows eating at a trough in the muddy barnyard. I hear the loud ruckus as aunts, uncles and grandchildren fill up the big old farmhouse on Christmas Eve.
That house is just a place in my heart now. A part of gauzy childhood memories where innocence and naivety still exist.
Oh, to soar on the tire swing hanging from the hundred year old tree in the side yard once more. To laugh with cousins around the kids’ table once more. To bound one last time up the back porch steps into the kitchen where Grandma is busy cooking as the tea kettle whistles merrily.
To be back in Grandma’s House just once more…
Do you have fond childhood memories of a special place?
Photo by jbelluch used under Creative Commons License.