In the spring I do, in the autumn I think.
We are an urban people now who reckon time passing by the changing of decorations in stores and the types of sales offered by retailers.
As a woman who grew up playing, observing, and walking amid overgrown fence-lines, that I like to think of as hedgerows, I try to keep seasons alive in the old way of knowing I learned through experience that the climate, weather, and seasons guide our lives and activity.
I am a bridge. I embody and represent a connection between generations and lifestyles. My parents were 41 and 42 when I was born in 1957. I ride along the top of the demographic wave, the bell curve, that is the Baby Boom. My mother would celebrate her 100th birthday next month if she lived.
The contemporary urban migration and expansion into the agricultural hinterlands began in the 196os bringing factory and office workers into previously agriculture-based communities. My favorite book as a child was Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House that presented this change in the way wee ones could understand.
The the time and length of the evening progression of waining light was noticeable and the night skies were dark. Living on a farm, we spent lots of time out of doors for work and relaxation. Some of my favorite memories of being a little child are from being outside in the backyard with my dad after dark. He would point out which lights were what: a pole-light from a farm a mile down the road, a satellite, a star or planet. Echo was the first satellite he pointed out to me. I remember him making sure I knew how to find the North Star. He also wanted me to memorize Longfellow’s poems about American History; The Song of Hiawatha, and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere were favorites of his.
I grew up in the midst of a vanishing lifestyle. The small, mixed crop, farm of the late 19th and early 20th Century had already given way to the small corporate family farm of the mid-late 20th Century when I was small. A man, one tractor, and land he owned and farmed was extremely old-fashioned when compared with the multiple, rented farms, big equipment, and incorporated businesses that were what most of my friends from farming families experienced as kids. I think of this during autumn when so many living systems become dormant in the temperate and Northern latitudes. Some will come to life again in the spring, and some will not.
The fall is harvest season. There is deep-seated satisfaction about seeing the rewards of spring and summer’s labors gathered, preserved, and stored for the coming winter. Though I now live where trees stay green the year around, I feel the pull of learned ways to harvest and prepare for long winter months. But there is no longer a need to do this, so I sit on the patio, warm breezes and hummingbirds keep me company and I ponder other times and the old ways that live on only in my memory. Sometimes I feel like the last passenger pigeon must have felt one hundred years ago.
What a lovely fall meditation, and so different! Yes, that way of life is disappearing and how interesting to be a bridge between those worlds.
I do feel fortunate to be the bridge and touch both worlds.
Such fabulous memories of a “vanishing lifestyle.” Love your recollections of the home, the fall. Even the hardships fascinate me, make me long for a more difficult time (is that silly or what?). Party lines on the phones are the worst I recall from my childhood… and even that fascinates my daughters, who wholly disbelieve party lines existed.
Love this post. Gives me a warm and fuzzy fall feeling.
Aw, warm and fuzzy, thanks! And yes we had a party line too. I will talk to your daughters if you want me to!
This is so beautifully written and plays to my emotional sense of the change of seasons. I remember my father taking us to Vermont to learn about the tapping of trees in the beginning of maple syrup season, sloshing through the mud of March to get a bit taste of that luscious syrup. I love the change of seasons. Now I’m ready to move south.
You are an incredible writer. Your words went straight from my brain to my heart. Thank you for that.
Sugar shacks! We did not do much sugaring in Indiana but I remember my brother trying to boil it down in the house. I am so glad this made you connect with your bygone days. It is good to remember.
Helene Cohen Bludman
Beautifully written, Nancy. Hard to believe that our world has changed so dramatically in our lifetime. It is a blessing to be able to cherish the wonderful memories of a time gone by.
My mother remembered the time before cars or planes and I’m in cyberspace. It is amazing!
How fortunate to be the bridge, you got a taste of how life was and live today with the memories of a lifestyle from years past. Thank you for painting a beautiful picture with your words.
Mary, Word pictures – I like that!
So fascinating that we grew in the same state, at the same time, watching a lifestyle die out but with such different experiences. My northern Indiana childhood in an area fueled by steel mills, oil refineries, and unregulated soap manufacturing is not that different on a whole lot of levels — I saw change in treatment of people, manufacturing leaving the US and towns dying as thousands of skilled workers were cast off with no place to go. It is odd to be a bridge but nice to know that the company is excellent. A topic for an afternoon in a cool breeze on the porch with the hummingbirds….
Yes, I remember the orange sky over The Region. My brothers worked in factories in Fort Wayne that fed into the Detroit supply chain. I used to love taking the train through your homeland to Chicago.
Yes, an afternoon for bridgers with breezes and birds!
Elin Stebbins Waldal
What a lovely blend of history and personal experience. Your description of you with your father is so moving, what a gift he gave by orienting you to all the points of light that stretched across a midnight sky. The other thing about this exquisite post is the blending of the past with your present at the end, there is a sense of peace. Truly beautiful.
Thank you Elin. Yes I love how memory allows us to re-experience gifts.
Lois Alter Mark
So beautiful, Nancy. This reads like a piece of literature, with a rich history and a main character I like more and more, as I get to know her better.
I am honored that you think my writing is literary and the character is me. Such a compliment!
This is beautifully written, Nancy.
We are very close in age but I grew up in Philadelphia.
I do remember my grandparent’s living in the country and
still having an outhouse.
Sometimes I think I would love to move to a place where
there was no winter. I wonder if I would miss it…
Doreen, I must have lived next to your grandparents! 🙂 Actually, my grandparents had a three-holer.