Archive for August, 2006

You Can’t Go Home

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Thomas Wolf said, “You can’t go home again.” Well I tried. Grand Pa’s farm was on the north fork of the San Gaberial Creek and was Mecca for me. West of the house he had built a 3 by 8 by 2 foot watering trough of stone he had carried down from the hills. He piped water from the windmill tank and installed a float valve so the cattle would always have fresh water. He caught several sun fish perch from the creek and put them into the tank and that became my private fishing hole. With a bent pin for a hook and Grandmothers sewing thread I caught those fish several times.
Just inside the yard fence in the back stood the wind mill that pumped cool well water into a tank mounted on a high circle of stone. I would climb the stone and walk around the tank which became my castle. From the heights of the walk way I could get a good shot at the many invading Vandals and Goths. Never once were they able to storm the walls and take the castle.
In the east corner of the back yard was the cellar. It was dug into the cool dirt and was intended to be used to store canned fruit and vegetables from the orchard and garden. They called it a cellar, but in reality it was a great cavern where I lived and fought off the pesky saber toothed tigers that roamed the farm. With red mud and black charcoal I painted pictographs of my exploits on the walls. Woolly mammoths, raging bulls and giant sloths raced around the wall of the cave.
The front yard contained an apricot tree that was just right for me, Tarzan to climb. Plus the added bonus of ripe fruit on special occasions it became a magnet for a kid just my size. Grandpa called me his little racoon, but I knew he meant, you Tarzan
By the east yard gate stood a desert willow given to Grandpa by his mother. He planted it and watered from a bucket carried from the windmill each day. It was no good for climbing, and any way Grandpa guarded it carefully for he prized the orchid like blossoms that covered the tree most all summer.
The farm house was built in the shape of an “L” with a dog trot where the two lines met. There is where I slept, when they could get me to lie down. The wind whistled through the dog trot and all the night sounds used it as a short cut to get to wherever they go. Owls, night hawks, and frogs made up the band producing the night music. Of course crickets in the fall and June bugs in the summer added to the cacophony of music marching through my dog trot room. The kitchen was my favorite room in the house. Grandma always had tea cakes for me and usually a left over biscuit and bacon from breakfast helped me live until lunch. She always managed to cook exactly what a kid needed to make it in this world. Grandpa was careful to keep the wood box full with plenty of kindling to start the fire.
The living room had a fire place and a rocking chair for Grandpa. In the winter nights, after the chores were done, he sat there close to the fire and read by the light of a coal oil lamp. Occasionally he would find a morsel of information he thought I might like and toss it to me like a bone to a dog. I remember him telling about a giant telescope, with a 200 inch mirror that was being built and would take ten years to complete. I wanted to know if they could see men on Mars and he said perhaps.
What a lovely world for a kid to be in. If I had know the word then I would have called it idyllic. I think I just called it Grandpa’s, but that means the same to a youngster.
Recently I tried to go back in spite of Tom’s warning. Walking across the field I could see nothing. Brush and weeds were everywhere. Then I spied my castle. The stone still stood but crumbled some what. The walls of that majestic, impregnable fortress was not quite as tall as I remembered. The wind mill was gone and a stone covered the well. A pebble dropped into the darkness gave a small splash. My fishing hole was still intact but empty and dry. I wondered what happened to the fishes grand kids.
My special cave had indeed caved in and left only a small depression in the soil. I sure remembered it being longer and walls of solid rock. No sign of the apricot tree was visible. Not even a stump. The house was gone. Just a few post and some rocks that held the wood house off the ground. There is where the fireplace stood, but not a single brick remained to mark the site. And now the night sounds had to find other places to go, for the short cut of the dog trot was gone.
All was gone. Maybe Thomas Wolf was right. Perhaps there is no road back. Was it really ever here?
But wait. What is that? There where the yard fence once encircled my world was a struggling gnarled tree. A few green shoots graced the twisted limbs. Yes! It was! It is! The desert willow my Grandpa had planted over 85 years ago still grows. A few small timid blossoms mark the valor of the past. Grandpa’s labor was not lost. And Thomas Wolf is wrong. I can go back. And I can enjoy the adventure again for it lives forever in my mind.
To bad for you Mr. Wolf.