February 22, 2006

Where I am from

We gave my father a digital camera for his birthday, and for a test photo, he walked over to a window, took a picture his backyard, and emailed the photo to me. Since I only live about six miles away, it was kind of silly, but I liked the shot. And I figured I would put it up on my blog, even though my parents don't know about my blog.

Backyard

Here is where I am from, the place where I lived for the first 23 years of my life. That little red barn once housed a horse, an appaloosa that we would ride in the fields back beyond the house. The hayloft above the horse stall was a great place for pajama parties, all of us unrolling sleeping bags onto the scratchy hay, a comfy place to lie awake and talk all night. During my teenage years, I would sometimes sneak up to the hayloft with a boyfriend on a hot summer night.

The clothesline always served as first base for whatever game we were playing – softball, kickball, or whiffle ball. Sometimes this meant running through wet laundry that hung down in your face. I can remember standing on first base, getting into long conversations with my mother as she hung out the laundry. That canoe alongside the barn is one of mine. I have canoes stashed all over the place.

You can't tell, but under the snow behind the clothesline is a well that still runs over every spring. My father dug that well when he built the house back in the 1950s. That well was one of the last projects he ever did with his own father, who was diagnosed with cancer just after my parents bought the land and who died before the house was completed. My grandfather was a master carpenter. He and my father had built many houses together – my Dad started building houses when he was just a kid – and my parents' house was their last.

To the right of the barn, also hidden under snow, is a big vegetable garden. I have many childhood memories of helping my mother plant seedlings or weed rows of plants. Even now, when I go over there for lunch, she might send me out to the garden to pick a tomato or onion. My parents raise most of their own vegetables and keep them in a cold room and a deep freeze.

Of course, it is winter right now and it is snowing in the photo – the kind of thick snow that sticks to the ground, that piles into drifts. I am from a place that gets a whole lot of snow.

22 comments:

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks for sharing the photo and the reminiscence. I can't imagine what it would be like to live 23 years in the same place. I've never topped 4 years, except once (when I was 4-11).

I look up at nights, to see the moon, recalling that wherever I am, the moon is still above me. When I have been able, I plant a garden, as if to say, I can set down roots, even if they don't remain, or I'm not there to see their fruits. Okay, you've inspired me to post another one of my poems on my blog.

Rana said...

I'm also from a roving family; the longest we stayed in one place was 12 years. I am so pleased to be staying in one place for two years, because it means I can do things like garden, and be around to collect the harvest. But then it starts up again.

In the metaphor about learning to put down roots, or not, I think my garden would be one in containers, one I can carry with me, like a snail, when I leave. It's not as good as settling in for the duration, but it's better than no garden at all, and requires attention and care even so.

:)

Bitty said...

Either your father has an eye for photography or everything is beautiful where you live

...or both.

Bardiac said...

Wow, what an inviting picture and reminiscence.

jo(e) said...

Articulate Dad: Well, my father built their house in 1958, so my parents have lived in the same house for 48 years.

And I live six miles away so I have not gone far ....

Rana: I like the idea of a garden in containers, being moved from place to place.

peripateticpolarbear said...

I think your life would make a great children's book. Like a Little House book, only with swearing and without racism and with electricity and boys and dancing. Okay, maybe not like a Little House book, but still a good one....I'm so rambly today.

jo(e) said...

Hey, PPB, that's funny that you say that, because it is one of my goals -- to write a children's book sort of loosely based on my own life.

Rana said...

*chanting*

Do it! Do it!

Friday Mom said...

Oh, definitely write that book!

The clothesline was third base in our backyard.

HeyJules said...

Boy, did that bring back a lot of memories for me. I didn't have a barn, but we had a large playhouse in the back yard and a clothesline that was always full of wet clothes that kept you from making it to the big tree before being called "out."

Thanks for stirring up the pot of my childhood, Jo(e). It still tastes sweet to remember...

nancy said...

I wouldn't move far from such a beautiful place either. That was your father's first test photo? Very very beautiful.

Ianqui said...

Silly to you, maybe, but the rest of us don't know what your backyard looked like! I like pictures taken while it's actually still snowing.

Musey_Me said...

Thanks for sharing. As another roving one, I marvel at people who spend their entire lives able to answer the question, "where are you from?" in a concise and connected way. I also love the snow!

liz said...

WRITE BOOK! WRITE BOOK!

(down Animal! Down!)

ScienceWoman said...

I think its wonderful how grounded you are in Snowstorm City, its an amazing first photo, and I promise to be a customer when you publish your children's book.

Teri said...

jo(e), are you familiar with the, well, I guess it's sort of a meme based on the poem Where I'm From by George Ella Lyons?

Here's a collection of bloggers' poems based on the original.

And, oh! I am envious of your snow. Ours has melted again. (Damn global warming)

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

There will no doubt be a fight over who will be the first to purchase your children's book.

When you write about your roots, I feel the urge to stay where I am living now. (It helps that I am living in a similar place.) If I stay here after my job runs out, I plan to blame you.

jo(e) said...

Teri: Oh, I am remembering those now. Last June or so .... you did one, didn't you? And PPB?

I thought when I typed my title it had a familiar sound to it ....

Leslee said...

Well, !f that's not post card perfect ! don't know what !s/

kathy a said...

wonderful photo and great memories!

BeachMama said...

Great first photo from your Dad! Amazing the memories that can come from a photo, even when you can't see everything that is there. You should try to take a photo from the same spot in the summer.

halloweenlover said...

Beautiful.