Saturday, December 31, 2016

Down a dusty lane

Like Pig Pen in Charlie Brown's world, dust followed me as I walked down the back lane. An old lane that was dusty and dotted with hazards as the cows used the lane to go to the creek bottom. Dung beetles worked feverishly. Most would have seen nothing but crops and dirt. I saw a world of possibilities.

My early education from my father about the nature that we so richly possessed never left me wanting for entertainment. Learning seemed to be an everyday activity. I loved that old back lane. The walk to the creek was often the best part of the trek. Crops surrounded me. When the corn was high, the lane was toasty hot. Creeping from the field to the lane took me on a perilous journey beneath the electric fence. Lacking a bit of coordination, I often found the experience shocking. Yet I belly crawled beneath that fence time and time again.

That old lane saw my father's Belgian horses pull lumber cut and planed in the creek bottom to the site of the new barn. We trekked down the lane with fishing poles, and ran down to watch baby lambs romp and play. June and our neighbor Donna would camp in the creek bottom, dragging their gear down that lane. My horse took me on many a fast journey when heading to the barn. For a mare that had plodded down the lane, she seemed to find extra energy on the return.

The fences came down when I was older. There was more land to till.  And no fences to separate neighbors. My nemesis, the electric fence, disappeared as did my days of adventuring. The fields were lovely no longer separated by wire and post. Another lesson. Lessons for an older child. One who saw poetry in expanses of green and gold.  The correlation between this beautiful blending of nature with that of humankind.

I walked that lane a last time when we left the farm. Truly it was a heartfelt journey. No cattle. No beetles. No horse. No fences. As a child in mourning, I felt the earth and loved it even more deeply. I felt the sting of the fence and was glad it was gone. I absorbed the earth, and it would hold me forever.

Fences. My horse had tried to rub me off on those nasty wires. The sheep lost wool on the nasty barbs. My world down that dusty lane was full but restricted. Those fences had separated fields as I sat looking at the view from the hill. Then progressive thinking removed the barriers and created and flawless landscape. A landscape of unity that has accompanied me all these years. Oh, how I would love to be walking that dusty lane once more.

Monday, December 26, 2016

One gift at a time

At Christmas when my granddaughters were little tykes, we made ornaments to give to random people. Wonderful things happened with this experience, hence it became a tradition I wanted to continue with the twins.

The twins at age four are not accomplished artists, so this year we made cards with stencils and stickers. The little ones put love into each card they made. They licked each envelope and stamped the corners with a reindeer. The cards were handed out with Mommy and Daddy. A great family experience.

I had the kids last Thursday. We were making cookies to take to the local firehouse. The firemen know us well as we have visited them since the kids were toddlers. After we picked up one of my older granddaughters, Gabby, we bought a box of ornaments and were off to the mall to hand out gifts.

Gabby picked the people who would receive the ornaments and the twins would take turns handing them out with a "Merry Christmas" greeting. They handed them to all ages and nationalities. They learned not to be afraid to greet others as long as they were with a family adult. They had twenty-four to give and never once complained of being tired.

We were approached by a lady who earlier received a Nolan ornament. She was sitting alone on the bench where we supposed she was waiting for someone. When she reached us she said, "You saved me. I was feeling sad and alone when you came by. Thank you." The kids hung on every word understanding what a special thing they were doing. I hugged the woman, "You have just given us a gift in return."

My grandchildren and I will go into the new year ready to begin our project for next Christmas. We are making ornaments out of nature. Gifts from the earth. I hope that my grandchildren are learning to care about people, one person at a time. It the best we can do in this new year of 2017. Happy New Year, friends.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Snapshot memories

Hurry, grab the camera! Snapshot! Snapshot of yesterday. Snapshot for the future. Snapshot of moment, memories, dreams. Snapshot!

We sat on the floor next to the old trunk. Sydney, the oldest of my grandchildren, took out the pictures one by one. Boxes of glossy snapshots. People looking back at her. People she will never know. Snapshots of the past. Sepia, black and white, colors fading with time. Not just a history of a family but also the history of photography.

Our brains of full of snapshots. The memories that come in a glimpse seemingly held there like a picture on a piece of paper. Pictures of people who were part of our dreams for the future. Snapshots of people we do not know but give us that instant glance into the past that was our parents. My grandmother lifting me from a high chair. My grandfather giving me the one and only hug I would ever receive from him. A glimpse that is held like a snapshot in my brain.

It is the season of pictures. We each want those special moments captured forever. However, the digital day and age keeps most of our pictures stored on our computers or in our phone. I save all of my digital photos on a flash drive, hopefully protecting them from loss. The twins are awed by paper photos. (They would be even more awed at the outhouse and the party-line phone, but those are other stories.) A new way of looking at our past. We can even change the color of eyes or crop out faces we do not care to see again.

This is all great, but there is something to be said for sitting next to a family member relating the past as each pictures is pulled from the trunk. Questions are asked and answers given from the depth of a loving heart. Sure, I have gotten rid of all of the scenery photos of trips that will mean nothing to my family. Why should they have to go through them someday? I have those pictures in my own memory, snapshots in my mind. What remains in this trunk are the true treasures.

Mom kept many of our photos in the piano bench. They were taken out and appreciated time after time. My grandfather had a pictures basket. And, I have the trunk. Each generation keeping their pictures close enough to peek in at a lost loved one whenever the heart calls.

For we parents and grandparents, the greatest gifts we can receive at Christmas are pictures of our children and grandchildren. For my son, I put all of the digital pictures I have taken throughout the year and put them on a flash drive, giving it to him at Christmas. On my Christmas tree is a sweet picture of my parents with their young daughters.

It is the holidays so hurry, grab the camera! Snapshot memories.