It seemed like such a long way for a young small town girl. Twenty minutes. A right turn onto the dirt road from the highway and then finally the last right turn down the long drive paved with really tall trees into the countryside and a familiar yet different way to live. Once there though, the world seemed to make sense. The grove of trees to block the wind on one side; strategically place out buildings across from the house yard with just enough space to drive a tractor around in a circle; and after chores, enough space for the kids to play games. Everything had a place. Naturally my siblings and I explored the sheds, barns, and chicken coops that were the demarcation to the fields and pastures that made up remainder of this homestead to see what we could see and to create a little bit of mischief whenever possible.
In my home state, my paternal grandparent’s farm is considered a century farm as it was passed down for generations for more than 100 years. It was the gathering point for family and friends for occasions that were too numerous to mention. It bore witness to the birth of children and grandchildren, the passing of many growing seasons, and more farm dogs, turkeys, cows, hogs and chickens than one could imagine.
My maternal and paternal grandparents worked the land from one year to the next. So as an adult, it isn’t too far beyond the realm of view to see that I partially gained a sense of order, continuity, and brevity in design and writing from this way of life.
But, to another poet I lend some space to share her experience of being a small town girl with a bit of country. I offer to you the poetry of Brenda Beattie that reminisces on the love of family and land by two men, our Grandfathers.
Grandpa’s Garden by Brenda Beattie
Out to his garden Grandpa would go,
With his wheelbarrow, shovel, pitchfork and hoe,
To plant the seeds and make them grow.
After the harvest we’d all share in the bounty
All the fruits and vegetables there were plenty.
Now the time has come for us to plant our own.
Grandpa’s gone but his memory lives on.
When the Lord calls me home, I won’t be afraid,
Grandpa will meet me at the pearly gate.
Out to the Lord’s garden Grandpa will go
The Garden of Eden to me he’ll show.
Grandpa’s Grindstone by Brenda Beattie
I close my eyes and what do I see?
The memories of Grandpa appear to me.
We drive by the farm, and so much more I see.
All the childhood memories flood back to me.
Out on the farm I can see him walking from house to barn,
Morning and night there’s chores to be done.
Chickens to feed, eggs to get.
Cows to milk, he’d squirt it at the cats.
Sitting tall on the tractor to till and plow,
Acres of crops grew tall and proud.
All the cousins in the yard,
We’d run and play – baseball, kickball, spud and tag.
The boys brought their guns so the grove we’d go.
Grandpa’s old Ford was in that grove,
He said I could play in it,
And I treasured every bit.
Grandpa’s grindstone sat by a shed,
It’s still in the country, but its’ on our farm instead.
Grandpa was there a few summers ago,
He pulled out his knife and his smile started to grow.
He said he thought he’d never use that grindstone again,
And he sharpened the blade so it was like new again.
Every day I look at that grindstone and
It’s Grandpa’s smile I see.
He’s back with Grandma now.
Where he’s always wanted to be, their love so strong.
So, when I close my eyes the two of them I see,
And all the childhood memories flood back to me.
On this Father’s Day and each day, we celebrate the love and lessons given to us by our fathers and those who fill that role as fathers that move us forward in our lives and the lives of the generations to come.