Sunday, April 26, 2015

Keepers of the earth

The earth is alive with new growth. Trees alive with new leaves. Flowers everywhere you look. Spring is alive and well. Along with the change of seasons comes a birthday in a few months. The twins will be three. So this grandma knows it is time. The time has come for this generation to learn about this beautiful earth.

Once again I am lying in the green grass on the hill overlooking the creek bottom. Mom has hung fresh laundry on the line above me. I close my eyes and listen. A cow moos for her newborn calf. The old bridge creaks with the weight of a tractor and wagon. Birds sing and Mom's laundry flaps in the wind. I smell the grass, the newly laundered clothes, the cows and the sheep as well as fresh turned soil. I smell Mom's pies baking in the kitchen and my dog Whitey lying next to me. I open my eyes and see a blue sky full of drifting clouds. A lion? A clown? An ever-changing mosaic in the sky.

The hill was a place where nature could be observed by merely lying in one spot and joining nature. I was a little one when Dad began teaching me to merely listen. He taught me to observe with my eyes open, so I could dream of nature's wonders with my eyes closed. Now it was my turn.

The little ones put on over-sized, gardening gloves. They couldn't pick up anything if they tried. "I like to feel the earth and get my hands dirty," I said. "Me, too," cried the twins with gloves flying off their small hands. I gave each child a job. They searched for winter debris, showing me each piece as they tossed it into the bucket. A neighbor stopped by offering a small wheelbarrow that was tucked away for many years in the back of his garage. The little ones took turns gathering sticks to toss on the pile. The woman who lived in this house before the kids took it over this spring planted a wide variety of plants I'd never seen. After showing the children the uniqueness of the plants, Nolan was soon showing his parents a hidden bud. They were sponges soaking up nature with a little help from the adults who love them. I knew that my Dad had done the same for me.

We sat in the yard and looked at the clouds. We listened to the robin who was building a nest in the tree by the kitchen window. We picked up rocks and looked at the colors and shapes. We worked together and learned from one another. With each new season, new opportunities arise. With each generation, we pass on appreciation for the earth we reside on for a while.

My father taught me to observe and absorb the world around me. I teach my grandchildren to embrace and protect it. I was taught in school that we had unending natural resources. But that's not true. I have a responsibility to teach my grandchildren about the beautiful, natural gifts around us that we need to preserve. I ask God to give them a world as special as the one I was given. A world full of birds, fresh water, clean skies and soil free of chemicals.

In a few more years, the twins will be old enough to share with me the evening sky. We will talk about stars and a beautiful moon. I will tell them about a little girl who could close her eyes and hear the cows and chickens. We will travel from the past and talk about the future. In the years ahead, I will hand off the knowledge I hope they will pass on. I will give them what I can to help them be keepers of the earth.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It is a gift

Two or three times a week her face pops up on my computer screen. Yep, my sister June is just a few clicks away. I'm in Oregon. She is in Angola, Indiana, yet we are carrying on a conversation as if we are in the same room. I love Skype.

The beauty of having siblings is that we share a common past, memories, history. These are the only people who know it all. They are the family encyclopedia, the keeper of feelings and the eyes of a recorder. When one of us forgets a facet of our past, the other usually can remember. Sometimes a memory long forgotten by both of us surfaces.

Example: In one or our recent, rambling conversations, June said, "You can always learn to crochet. (a reference to Mom)."  I reply that my bad thumbs will not allow me to crochet but then again, perhaps I could macrame. A new conversation ensues talking about macrame. I wish I had some those old macrame pieces. I'd send one to her. The remnants of the 60's are long gone except for a Santa my dear cousin Betty made for me. I was never as artistic as my sister, but I could tie knots with the best of them. Memories of times that warm the heart are alive again as we meet face to face.

My mother would have loved Skype. She could have spent time with her grandchildren even though they lived in various parts of the US. I could have spent more time with my parents. I cannot even begin to think what the future will hold for my grandchildren. Someday they will think that Skype is old fashion and obsolete. For now I embrace it and am thankful that it keeps my sister nearby.

How fun it would have been for us to have had some type of multi-Skype, so our classmates who could not come to the reunion could still have been in the same room with us, sharing a very special time. This day of technology has something for all of us. It requires a bit of learning which keeps the mind sharper. Keeping up with new technology allows me to be a really "with it" grandma for my teenage granddaughters. And, it enriches my life in ways I never dreamed of long ago, sitting in front of that old Raytheon TV.

For those of you who do not know how to Skype and have the opportunity to use a computer, it is a wonderful way to stay connected and close to those you love. When I travel or my kids travel, I am still in contact with them. On my recent trip home, I skyped with the twins. They dashed in front of the camera, telling me all about their activities. A Grammy who was far away was once again in the same room, loving every minute with the chatty tots. Distance didn't mean separation. Skype held us together.

Maybe one day we will have a live newspaper or blog where we can talk face to face with readers. The possibilities are endless and exciting.  Living is all about change and recreating ourselves to be more adventurous and alive. It is a gift.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A trip back home

Memories collect like dust on an old shelf left to itself far too long. They pile up and together make a grey blanket lying there until ruffled by the feather duster. Well, the feather duster came calling this week.  The memories danced in the air, and we caught every one of them savoring them in ways we haven't in the past. Fifty years away from the classroom, the cafeteria food, Mrs. Frantom's Home Ec and Mr. Dafler's Geometry. A school now gone, but the days of young kids playing on new playground equipment and those of jump rope in the yard not forgotten.

We picked up where we left off only better this time. We are no longer little children or even young adults concerned with our own lives. Hugs, kisses, embraces long overdue. Drawn together in our youth, we now cherish what we have in our later years, making it all new once more. For those who live locally, not caring to join us, there was a hurt, a missing that we wished they felt as well. With the loss of four of our class members, we knew that this little chunk of time together was important. We wanted to say 'hello' and hoped that it would not be forever 'good-bye". 

The Alumni Banquet brought even more into my circle of loved ones from the past. I say loved ones because they share a special time that means a great deal to me.  Each and every face was a piece of my years back that lane on Neff Road. Past school employees, those who attended school with my sisters, those in the grades above me and behind me, they warm my heart and make it sing. I was blessed to be part of those years at Franklin Monroe. I was blessed to be a farm girl who grew up with mud between her toes and an outhouse back behind the corn crib. A simpler time when decades later we returned once more…..because we cared to make the effort.

For you who have not moved away, please know that you are part of those memories of us who did find our lives away from our roots, our past friends and school mates. When we return, we want to see you again. Know that we share a past, a lovely past. We bring our lives to you, hoping you care and want to know where the years have taken us.  I returned home with a new friends. Oh, yes, they were my old classmates, but we have new beginnings now.  We made a pledge to see one another whenever possible. We have been given a gift.

Thank you to my friends and family for spending time with me. I have very little family there anymore.  Yet, I will return. I will visit with Janet and Geneva catching up on the local news. I will count myself blessed for those of you in my life. For you who read this little weekly column, thank you. You humble me. I send my love to you all and look forward to my return to Neff Road.