Our apps have a life of their own, don't they? Recently Google Pictures began sending me notifications: X number of years ago on this day...
I was a bit startled to see this picture come up on my phone, out of the blue:
Creepy! But let me explain.
Five years ago my parents moved off their farm to a house in town (Mountain Lake). They moved in March, but the folks who would be renting the homestead weren't going to be arriving until August. So every week or two that summer, I drove from the Twin Cities to spend a few days helping them clean out the house and some of the outbuildings. It was a hot, dry, Sisyphean summer: Would we ever, ever reach the end of things to be packed or sorted or discarded? Would it ever, ever rain again?
The dolls in the above picture had been stored for years, maybe decades, in what we called the "chicken barn" (even though no chickens had lived there in my lifetime). Those dolls were my well-loved and well-worn childhood friends. My mom made clothes for them out of fabric left over from the clothes she made for me—in fact, the orange dress on the doll to the right came from the dress I wore on my first day of kindergarten.
The day we tackled the chicken barn was supposed to be very hot, so we got to work especially early. And when I discovered my long-lost dolls, I set them out to catch the sun's first rays. After being shut away in the darkness for so many years, they deserved a little time in the golden glow of a July sunrise.
Among those in my age group (early 50s), helping parents move is a common scenario--exhausting yet brimming with memories. So I won't stop with the dolls. Here are more photos from the summer of 2012. Maybe some of you will relate.
I'm pretty sure this cowboy-themed toy bin helped me learn my letters and numbers. And then there's KerPlunk, a canister of Tinker Toys, and a leather-stenciling kit that belonged to my brother.
Also in the chicken barn: the remains of my brother's purple-ribbon 4-H bug box. I think he went to the state fair with it. At one point it held a prized luna moth as well as a cecropia moth—true victories in the world of 4-H entomology.
Now for something pretty! This intricate tissue-paper flower was made by my grandmother, along with several others. I wish I knew the occasion.
These pictures are imbedded in my brain. The mountain one hung over the organ in the living room. The fruit one was in the dining room—but the troubling thing is, I had to really think to remember where it had been. And it's only been five years.
More pictures that had been around as long as I could remember. But by 2012 they'd been relegated to the basement, where my dad had made room for a computer desk.
This work of "art" was my doing. I put this puzzle together during all the snow days we had when I was in seventh or eighth grade. That was the era of my maroon body suit. (For some reason that's what comes to mind when I think of working on this puzzle.)
A weed missed by the mower seized its chance to really show off.
Even a key can be a sensory memory...its smoothness and weight...
and the way you had to feel for just the right place to turn.
I remember spending the better part of a day packing up the pantry.
But what good old-fashioned farm pantry it was!
During one visit I worked into the night and then took a few pictures.
The lattice work cast an intricate shadow, and the picnic table seemed to float in midair.
The view from inside the breezeway, facing the yard light and granary.
A mama cat named Babe was happy for some company.
Headlights on corn...one of the eeriest images there'll ever be.
Hard to believe now, but as a kid I did undertake sewing projects now and then, mostly for 4-H (and always under the watchful eye of my mom). The tennis dress and the skirt I made from these patterns both ended up in my daughter's dress-up basket.
The dust of a summer's work covered my Sorento.
A few sparse raindrops turned it into a canvas.
My daughter, then 15, came out with me sometimes and amused herself by taking pictures. This is one of my favorites. It's how I like to remember the farm: both dreamy and substantial, and always inviting you to get up off your feet.
is a children's book author, editor, tutor, mom of two adult children and one feisty cat, and collector of weird things.
My Reading Corps Service
Letters for Kids
A Blue Ribbon Day
A Kind Neighbor, a Beaded Tree