Thursday, January 19, 2006

No Place Like Home

©2001 All Rights Reserved CHG

Join me little Dorothy. Enter the world of my childhood--its open fields swaddled beneath baby blue skies, its country roads cutting a gentle swath through peaceful pastures. It is a world where cattle graze and drink from murky ponds, where tractors plough and barefoot children play innocently--mindless of their future.
There off on a road to your left, sitting serenely among the pines beckons the homeplace. Lost to the ravages of time are many familiar markings: a sandbox, a slide, the large oak trees to the side, the great white plank fence, the sheds, the garden, the animals. The sight of a cowboy saddling his horse or heating a shoe in the forge and pounding it upon the anvil, yes even that is long gone. Yet the treasured homeplace remains. Forever humble, it naps quietly on a hill--a testament to those it has enfolded in its arms. We know this for a fact, for we have been suspended in her giant hug for nigh on 35 years.
A shell of its former glory, the home and its true worth cannot be measured by strangers looking in. Although surrounded by land gone to seed, the house and front yard have been kept. Yet, we mourn the passing of the rest each time we make the journey home. For we know it was once more than that. So much more. And as we gaze upon it, still we see ponies dotting the pasture, dogs and cats running, Mother gardening, and Daddy in jeans and boots making the familiar trek to the barn he built with his own two hands. We see ourselves looking on from atop a tree house in the pines, and we hear the ringing of a large bell sending messages in between. We see little sister playing dress up with the kitties. We see a green Buick Skylark in the drive. We smell dinner on the stove. We hear Mama calling us in for Kool-Aid. We feel the hot sun on our faces as we stake tomatoes and later at the harvest as we juice them out in the yard. Priceless memories cause pride to well within us. Only a precious few can fathom the worth of this little two-acre heaven.
Out in a nearby field, three little rowdy roughneck girls are riding recklessly with the wind, racing wildly against the clock, their hair flying, their laughter wafting back to the house. They smell the sweat of their ponies and honeysuckle in the air; they feel the prick of cockleburs on their jeans. They hear the pounding of the hooves and the whooping of their sisters as each one tries to beat the other home at a break neck speed. Home is where Mama waits anxiously to see if they are still living. Home is where Daddy waits laughing—knowing his tomboys are doing just fine. And all the while, unfortunately…inevitably… time is still racing on.
An entire family is painting a fence…a long fence encircling the grounds. It is a tedious task requiring two or three coats of white, sometimes watered down, paint. “Take pride in your work. Do it right the first time,” Daddy says to them as he demonstrates the proper brush stroke. The result is a dazzling white display of boards, grass, and laughing faces. The summer sun is beating down drying the paint to their skin as they stop to drink ice-cold well water from a quart jar and wipe the sweat from their faces. “Take pride in your work. Do it right the first time,” the words of our father and the hard-earned lessons remain though the painted fence and Daddy long have been gone.
Mama is in the garden planting, making little hills with the hoe. Okra, tomatoes, corn, squash, and potatoes are her goal. Barefoot in the garden, the girls plant and water. Come harvest, right alongside Mother they dig potatoes making faces when they touch a spoiled vegetable. And always they are careful to look out for spiders, snakes, and mice beneath the bean vines. After the hard day’s labor, the family swims in a nearby river in the cool of the day. And during the frigid winter they enjoy the fruits of their labors even more. Saturday mornings find Mother in the kitchen stirring up homemade soup and pimiento cheese sandwiches, the same kitchen where they gather today for Saturday breakfasts, haircuts, and Christmas candy making. A world of candy has been cooked there. A world of memories made and shared there. This is why home beckons as no other spot on earth.
A couple is setting out buttercups on the ditch bank. Side by side they carefully plant all along the roadside. Married more than 20 years, they have seen their share of hard times; perhaps more than their share. Together they have worked to make this plot of land a home for themselves—and their family. Mama loves her flowers. She loves the time spent with Daddy in the shade of the pines…some of which she transplanted herself. She knows it hasn’t all been easy. It hasn’t all been roses. But for now, she is content having buttercups. Each spring she looks upon them with fond memories. And like the little hillside, the memories bloom and multiply in her heart. These are the memories she chooses. These are the memories she cherishes.
No home is immune from the hard times, conflicts, or sorrow life sometimes brings our way. The big picture does have its noticeable flaws. Looking in from the outside some people could say the pitfalls were avoidable. Some may place blame. Some, undoubtedly, wonder why things are as they are today. Many probably pass by and think, “What a shame.” And yes, there are even those who pass by who give it no thought at all. But for those of us who grew up there, yes even for the woman who to this day dwells there, it is a shelter from the cold. It is the safe haven from the storm; it is the root of a growing family tree. Its voice can be heard in the whisper of the pines on a quiet night--calling, beckoning us home. Oh my dear friend, there is no other spot on earth its equal. Indeed Dorothy Gail, “There’s no place like home.


Diane said...

I took a break from my research online--finishing up a papaer on Tourette's Syndrome. I graduated from college last Spring, FINALLY!, with just a few credits outstanding. I am fine tuning what is called a Prior Learning Experience paper--which allows me to receive college credits for a life experience. Our second child, Curt, grew up with Tourette's, which is a terribly misunderstood and much ridiculed disorder. Thought I would take this opportunity to write a psychology paper based on his and our experience over the years.

I hit my "favorite places" button...and your new posting popped up.

BEAUTIFUL! Keep writing! I was mezmerized by your descriptive and inviting words--I, for one, believe you are right where you are called to be.

P.s....maybe you will personally autograph your first book (a collection of short stories????) for me!


Aunt M. said...

I felt that I was right there with you all. I grew up on a farm too and know about the smells, the heat, drinking from a jar,etc. I didn't get to ride a pony but a bale of hay with an old saddle on it was my horse. I pretended to be Dale Evans or one of Gene Autry's leading ladies. I love the country/western way of life. I still watch westerns with Uncle P. Love you and hope you are having a great day!!

Love and Prayers!!

Aunt M.

C. H. Green said...

When it happens, you will be one of the first. I would love to read your paper when you're finished. Thanks for stopping in.