Saturday, April 26, 2014

Returning to the past online

The old cane pole stood in the corner of the barn. The cow stable was covered with cobwebs and mounds of dust. A smell that was there when I was a child still lingered. Now the stable was full of all sorts of jumble. It hadn't been used in decades. Dad didn't do much on the farm at the end. I stood in the past looking at that old cane pole.

We were at my Aunt's Lodge in Ludington, Michigan. I must have been around twelve at the time. Dad and I had boated over to the Dunes to do a bit of investigating. Dad and I were really good at finding treasures. And once more we did. We found the old cane pole with hook and line intact. It became mine. No rod and reel could ever replace the fun I had with that old pole. Many a sunfish, blue gill, perch, catfish had dangled from the end of that line.

Today my memories got carried away. Perhaps it is the sunshine reminding me of summer excitement when it was warm enough to fish in the pond or in the creek. Better yet was a summer trip planned to Lake Hamlin and Aunt Bess. I decided to go online and take a look at the North Lake Shore. The beauty of Maps online is that you can actually see the houses and travel down the roads. I found the place where Aunt Bess and Uncle Sam wintered. The house with green shutters was probably one of the many while homes now lining the street. Then I traveled on down the road, an area built up over the years. Then I saw the bridge. I'd know it anywhere. I turned (as only you can do on Maps) and saw that the store had been replaced by a house. My heart sank. I turned to the other side and looked across the bayou. Across the bridge sat my cousin's house. On the other side of the road, the cottages we had stayed at forty years ago still stood.  On down the road, Aunt Bess's house sat painted a different color. The old Mead Cottage had a surround porch but still the old cottage remained.

I have wanted to return to the store, the bayou, the dunes of the past, but now I know that I cannot. We can't go back. I have changed as much as has North Shore. But I do wish I had that old cane pole. I left it there in the corner thinking how silly it would be for a woman to get onto the plane with her precious pole. I think I might get out the old pictures of the lodge. I need to reinforce what was and not what is. For in those memories of a fishing pole in my hands lies the beauty of a time gone by.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R.R. #2 Survival Skills

Oh, my, I have been away from the farm for a very long time. But let's not forget that I learned lessons there that can serve me well if indeed I should be caught in an emergency situation. Most of my friends are town born and raised. They are resourceful people, yet I know that I have an advantage. For one thing, none of them have ever lived without indoor plumbing. Hm. Disadvantage.

We didn't camp when I was a kid, but I can manage without the necessities of home, cooking over a fire, sleeping in the wild and learning from TV that staying with someone who does not repel you is great in case heat is lacking. I could fish with a string and safety pin pulling those slimy earthworms out of their homes. I can chop off the head of a fish and wring the neck of a chicken....neither of which I have done but have seen it many times. I call it on-line learning since the chickens hung from the clothesline and the fish was caught on a line. I can pick up a dried cow patty to toss on a fire. I can open a box of dried matches and light the fire. (Okay, I'm not perfect!)

My friends would cringe at all of the above. They would scoff at eating all parts of a chicken or at frying up a few frog legs. Crawdads would probably send them screaming. I could go on and on. And, I could in the meantime confuse myself as to just how easily I could survive. For one thing, after a night on the cold ground, I would be unable to walk the next day. I probably would make friends with the chickens and get poison ivy on my keister in the woods. I may be a farm kid all grown up, but time has taken its toll.

However, when faced with an emergency, I think that we kids of the earth would go into an automatic mode and take charge doing what we must for ourselves and our families. The lessons we learned from farming and the life with the soil taught us to be tough and to endure. We didn't live lavish lives. We lived the life that was handed down from generations of people working the soil, clearing the land, suffering the new-hand dealt each year be it illness, poor crops, diseased animals. My parents forged ahead doing the best they could with what they had. This is how we learned what we are made of.

With so many catastrophes in the world, we can't sit back and ignore the fact that we just might meet up with something we have never experienced before. I guess I write this today to tell those of you who grew up as a farm kid that we had it good. We learned life lessons, we learned how to work and how to live, we learned that we could even survive....in town.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A table of old friends

The table held three years....three years of graduates from Franklin Monroe High School. I was the only representative from my class. That was a few years ago. It was before the new gym. It was before the old school was torn down. It might even have been before I let my hair remain in its natural state of white with highlights of grey.

This year the class of 1964 was honored. Fifty years ago, this group of 'older grads' stood together receiving their diplomas. Next year the class of 1965 will move into the slot of honored. The year I went to the Alumni was a wonderful evening. I sat at a table with two good friends from the class of 1966 and three from the class of 1967. I was the lone grad of '65. No, we weren't well represented, but we were all in high school at the same time. We all shared the days of sitting in the bleachers cheering for the Jets. Those days of homework from the same teachers. Most of us had been together when the old 'new' gym was built. We had history.

The FM Alumni Banquet was Saturday night. My friend Sandy was going to go....without me. Sitting in Oregon, I was jealous. Many of the honored class were friends of mine. How I would love to have seen them again. I didn't want to just go eat a meal and watch the program. I want time to sit and just chat for hours with all of the people, my people, from the years I lived on Neff Road. Yes, I was jealous.

When I went to the banquet, not many locals were there. Perhaps I'm just a little weird, but I love seeing old friends over and over again. Maybe by living away, I have a different perspective. I know what I don't have any more. Even though I have lived in Oregon for over thirty years, the people who knew me in my growing up years have a special place in my heart. They are part of my memory scrapbook. When I go to the Alumni, I want to see them all!

Well, I missed out this year. I will be back on April 4th next year, looking once more for familiar faces. I don't feel old enough to be honored, but what the heck. The older I get, the more I realize what is truly important. Life is about people and the connections we make. Sometimes we find a walk through the past gives us memories that linger well into the future.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Grandparent's Voice

Please check out my blog at agrandparentsvoice.com. A place to share thoughts, to pray for others on the Care List and a place to think a little more about life.