We were always given free range at my grandparents house. From the depths of the tidy basement, where Gramp would tie flies and putter away on projects, to the walk up attic where Grammie would store old books and furniture and random bits of memorobilia too precious for her to toss. This was most definitely the breading ground for my love of the past. To explore my way through that house, which my great - great grandfather built, was an archaelogical dig of my very own ancestory. Inevitably, I found myself sitting down at the kitchen table with a photo album plucked from one of the basement shelves. I would marvel at pictures of my grandparents as children and young adults. They were always surrounded by family and friends, many of which I had never met or even heard of before. I remember wondering if their memories of these times were in color or black and white and sepia. With very little coaxing I could get the stories to flow. I would sit and listen attentively and hope with all of my heart that I would remember the words. Now, I am here and they are gone. These two magical people from my past are kept as securely as possible in the pages of my memories and the albums on the shelf. My own children flip through the past with their unique sense of wonder, asking questions of us and their grandparents. For them, I try and fill the places where pictures fail to reach and relay the feelings of a time gone by, although I am always reminded of the pieces of the story that fall to the side to float in the seas of the forgotten.
Balancing this sense of history was a pragmatic, depression era strength and determination to embrace change. From my grandparents I learned that, unlike those old albums, life itself was not black and white. We could choose the best of the old ways in combination with the wonders of modern advancement and thought. Since moving to our homestead on this old farm I have come to understand this balance to a greater degree.
It is by the unyielding force of nature that things continue to grow. Farming the land can seem an almost unnatural act as we attempt to shape our surroundings into a more efficient system of sustenance. As a farmer and, particularly as a father of young children, I often feel this growth is so rampant and out of my control that it is impossible to properly care for. I need for it to stop for a moment, frozen like a picture from an album, so I may trim it neatly to my liking before letting it grow into my desired form...my desired form. I am always learning of new ways to let go.
To recall the ancestors as flesh and blood in the midst of their own growth.
To let things shape themselves.