Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Old Farm Revisited

Uncle Jep and Aunt Grace had been gone forty years.  I had inexplicably turned into an old man.  Without doubt, this will be my last trip through the Valley.  

My father’s youngest sister, Esther, had passed away.  The funeral was in La Junta. Aunt Esther, at 95, had lived not only long, but well.  I would have made no effort to attend the obsequies were it not for her oldest son, Hugh.  I mean, I thought highly of Aunt Esther, but she is gone.  Hugh, though, is a brother to me.  He is but six months younger than I and we grew up together.  We were best pals from the time we were five until I went to the farm to work for Uncle Jep. Hugh and I maintained our friendship throughout our lives, and now we are two old guys in their late seventies, spouses gone, and most of our friends laid to rest.

I am living in Tulsa now.  I can no longer drive, thanks to tunnel vision, but my son, Marvin, lives nearby and he was willing to make the trip.

The burial and the four-day visit were soon over, and Marv had to be back for work next week.  Hugh and I made arrangements to meet in San Antonio at Christmas.  Marvin and I were eastbound, had an early start on the day.  As we drove we chatted about the days I spent in the area in my youth.  Marvin perceived that I was waxing nostalgic, and it was he who suggested we might drive up to the old place where I had spent so many good days with Aunt Grace and Uncle Jeptha.

We neared Holly and turned north.  It was a matter of a mere three or four miles, and there was the spot.  What memories welled up as I looked around the place!  The old house where I had eaten so much of Aunt Grace's wonderful cooking and fantastic pies, where I had listened to so many of Uncle Jep's yarns, was still standing.  It was clearly well-cared for, seemed to have recently received a fresh coat of white paint.  The old cedar shingle roof had been replaced with modern red tern roofing.  The chimney at the peak of the house was gone, replaced by the PVC vent utilized by modern furnaces.  The propane tank beyond the house gave testimony to modern ways.

The old barn was gone.  In its place stood a much smaller pole barn, its blue steel siding likely to withstand the blasts of winter and the heat of summer for many decades to come. The windmill was no longer present, but a watering tank for the stock was still located where the mill once stood.  As we had passed numerous circular fields it was evident that modern irrigation was being practiced and wind power was replaced by electric power in the barn lot and by diesel fuel in the fields.

Just beyond the barn was a very sturdy pen in which was a lone Simmental bull.  Sudden mental flashback to Uncle's story about Red Hurd's purchase of a bull all those many years ago.  Beyond the bull's pen was a windbreak of Black Hills spruce extending about 10 rods to the east.  On the other side of the trees, a fenced pasture was host to about thirty head of nice cattle. 

Behind the house, we saw an old red Dodge truck, but no other vehicles.  Waal, we parked in front the house and went up to the door anyway.  Knocking brought no response, and as much as I would have liked to walk part of the property, just for old time's sake, doncha know, I wanted even more not to get arrested, or worse, shot, for trespassing.  We returned to the car and drove another three miles to the little knoll on which lay the burial plots for my Aunt and Uncle.  We parked beside the road.  With my pocketknife. I cut six pretty brown cattails from the swale.  These I carried with me to lay on the graves of my departed loved ones.  So ended our brief foray into my past.  We got back on the road and headed eastward.

Marvin was subjected to my recounting of Uncle Jep's tales for the next few hundred miles, but he was a good sport about it.


Vee said...

Time marches on.

vanilla said...

Vee, inexorably.

Sharkbytes said...

Thanks for another visit to the world of Uncle Jep

vanilla said...

Shark, seemed that visit needed to be made.