Monday, August 3, 2009

The Farm

The gravel crunches beneath the tires for an excruciatingly long distance, until suddenly I spy the line of tall pines that signals we’ve arrived at our destination. The van turns into the driveway, greeted by a barking collie.

My dad gets out first, to distract the dog so the rest of us can get out. I always get butterflies in my stomach when I see that dog.

It’s not that I’m afraid of the dog per se, but more afraid of him jumping on me and knocking me down. He’s not a mean dog, just a large overeager puppy that doesn’t know his own strength. Every time I see this dog I think of that dog, the old one who was gentle and calm and how I loved that dog.

That old dog laid down in a field and died. His companion, another dog, found him and brought their owners to him. Later, that companion dog chased his last car and made a fatal miscalculation about distance.

These animals come to mind every time I think of the farm. It is the farm where my father grew up. The farm we visited but not often. Where my paternal grandparents lived for years, long after they no longer farmed the land themselves.

This day, I dread my grandmother’s kiss on the lips. It’s not that I don’t love her but I don’t even kiss my grandmother that I see more often on the lips. It feels awkward to me, but I do it because I don’t want her to feel badly.

This set of grandparents does things differently than I am used to. That’s not to say it is bad, but to a young girl like myself these odd ways make me uncomfortable. They play cards, games that they always have to explain and teach us because we just don’t play cards other than solitaire. They eat spaghetti. We rarely eat spaghetti at home.

Sometimes we spend the night. I stay in the bedroom at the top of the stairs. I’m unexplainably scared to sleep in the old farmhouse.

But I love to slide down the steep, carpeted stairs. Bump, bump, bump, bump on my bumper. I love playing with my Aunt’s Barbie dolls on the porch. The “old” Barbies have such interesting fashions and accessories.

I love seeing my grandmother gather the table scraps in a metal pan and head out the door calling the dog…even the same dog that worries me. She calls for the dog and bangs on the pan. I can see that she loves that dog.

My grandmother makes owls that by today’s standards are gaudy but I think are cute as a girl. There are many owls in the farmhouse. She makes me a mouse that is both cute and ugly to me. It is orange and brown and not at all the colors I like. My cousin gets a blue one. I like hers better. Years later my mom tells me that grandma liked orange best.

There are plastic horses. I sit with my grandfather on a bench. He tells me about the creatures with loving care. I feel that he must love me too.

The giant rock beckons to be climbed. It too, scares me. I am afraid I will fall but the climb is worth it. The view is exhilarating from 7 feet up. It is the getting down that is the worst part.
It is time to head back to the other grandparents’ house, where we are staying for the summer. I dread the goodbye kiss as much as I dread the goodbye. This day we stand in the entryway, my grandmother places a hand on each of my cheeks and kisses me. It is wet and unfamiliar, yet filled with love.

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Marla said...

I am teary for many reasons. What a beautiful post.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

What lovely, rich memories!

Pgoodness said...

Lovely memories. I felt I was there with you.

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