We all have images of a good-feeling memory we can’t let go of. A place, a person. Why do we need those feelings? I think to get through today. Whatever is going on in the world that is unpleasant or uncertain needs to be buffered with a good feeling. Of things that can be, or things we must do to keep those good feelings flowing.
I have a few warm fuzzies. And they are from a very young me. I don’t know why they stuck with me through all these years. And I also view them as an out of body experience. I am in that space looking in, seeing the good feeling happening. At the time, I didn’t know it was a good feeling I needed to hang onto. It was just there. For many years I didn’t know I had that good feeling with me. Later it bubbled up, something kick started the memory.
My good-feelings were of my grandparents and their farm. I try to conjure up more good-feelings with my grandparents, but they are hard to recall. I get snippets, without a context. Photographs help. With a photo you can make up your own story. There is a photo of a little me, standing in my footed jammies, with my grandpa kneeling next to me holding me up, and we are in front of their little Christmas tree. I can’t remember it, but the photo forces me to make that a memory that I can embelish and create a story.
Because they were four hours away, our visits usually were holiday related, with a few weekends sprinkled in. Sometimes I would stay by myself a few extra days during the summer. My grandparents lived on a farm west of Oklahoma City about an hour and a half drive, where they farmed wheat fields, raised cattle, and sold milk to a local processor. But I could not wait to get to that farm. Me, a city kid from Kansas, going to a farm that had, up to a certain point, no electricity, and never had an indoor toilet.
Back then, none of us had the luxury of central air, but a window air conditioner was heaven, and before that, a water filled air cooler. A huge contraption that blew water cooled air into the house through a window. They had neither.
The outhouse was several steps away from the house. In the house was a chamberpot, for when my little bladder needed to go during the night. I never saw any of this as challenging or difficult to endure, but an adventure. I’m sure my parents would have their own thoughts and it would be interesting to compare.
Beyond the outhouse was a “washhouse” with a concrete path to get from the house back door to the washhouse without getting dirtied feet. This is where all the laundry was done and I would take a bath in a little metal washtub. I recall one summer day she made me up some soapy water so I could blow bubbles and probably stay out of her hair for a bit. Beyond that was my playground: barn and chicken coop/yard. One memory was a “hero” grandma with me in the chickenyard, telling to me go climb up on the fence, while I watched her attack a snake in the chicken yard and chop it up. Minutes later I brought my brothers to see it, but the chickens had had a fine meal and nothing was left of it. Another memory snippet was me sitting in the teepee-shaped incubator, surrounded by a swarm of newly hatched and peeping fluffy yellow chicks.
I was born mid-fifties, and by 1962 they had moved into the nearby town because my grandpa was sick with cancer. He died January 1964. So, my farm memories are pulled from a very short span of my youth. That farm, and my love of western TV shows, made me yearn to be on an expanse of land. Years later, we found three acres, then moved “up” to 104 acres, then back down to a nice sized 26 acres. We are not farmers, but are surrounded by them. We work in the city, but our neighbors used our 104 acre land to expand their income. One farmer cut and baled the grass for his cattle. Another grazed his cattle in certain areas. I did have chickens and sold the eggs. I also had alpacas and a guard llama on 4 of those acres. We built them a very fine metal barn and I loved every moment. Our new place on 26 acres has beautiful grass pastures, that are cut and baled twice a year by a neighbor.
I was very little when I remember my grandma taking me, all dolled up, to church with her, and her lady friends oohing and aahing over me while she held me in her arms. The church was small, with a smooth wooden floor I was toddling along, with oak pews and pretty stained glass windows.
My entertainment on the farm was my own doing. Whatever I could find to do was what kept me enthralled with it all. I loved nature, was not afraid of a spider or bug, and being outside was what I loved. We used the slanted tin top covered door of the storm shelter outside as our slide (it was scorching hot in the summer!), I played with Laddie, their collie, helped with the chickens, helped hand pick the corn, fed the minnows in the stock tank that was under the huge windmill that pumped water for the cows, and rode with my grandpa in the old pickup truck to deliver his milk to a local processor. We visited neighbors who had pigs I adored and without a clue what was their reason for being. Went to a couple local farms with my grandpa and dad, to choose a pony he wanted to buy for the grandkids. I remember one farm had a stallion in a round pen and he was so huge to me I was in awe as I watched him prance around. We never got that pony as grandpa got sick soon after.
One time we were visiting and we had to run to the outdoor cellar in the middle of the night, pitch black out, and only some kind of lanterns with us, because the weather was ominous and we were smack dab in tornado alley, so you don’t mess around. I recall standing in the cellar, surrounded by my grandma’s canned goods. And not goods in cans, but all things she processed into glass jars to sustain them through the winter when there was no fresh produce. The damp, musty red earth walls and floor is a smell I can remember to this day.
Why are these memories important to me? Because now I am a grandmother to my grandsons, ages 6 and 2. I want them to keep some good memories with them. We fish in the two acre pond, go on nature walks, play with my Jack Russell-mix dog, and fix cinnamon rolls or pancakes for breakfast. We bird-watch, star-watch, say hello to the neighbor’s cows visiting at the fence, and enjoy the open spaces as much as they want.
Fond memories, memories of moments, are what sustain us and we want to preserve.