Wednesday, May 30, 2007

old homestead

Someone had built the house and lovingly planted the trees around it for shelter and respite from the blazing Oklahoma sun. By the time we arrived, the glass was gone from all the windows and the front porch slanted with age and neglect. The roof was green with a red brick chimney but the house was a weathered gray, paint removed by wind and rain, sun and time. I always wondered what color it had been.

My little brother and I found old baby food jars filled with buttons and beads and old pieces of lace under the rotted floorboards of the wide porch. It was a small house, just one story, built with the front and back door opposite each other for ventilation, the front door facing the west. Built long before air conditioning or central heat. It wasn't even wired for electricity.

For a long time, grain and alfalfa were stored inside the small rooms. Time passed and a pole barn went up to shelter the alfalfa. A while longer and large granaries sprouted beside it. Daddy tore the old house down and we found remnants of someone's life lurking in the crawl space and hidden inside the walls. Papers, a bit of cloth, an old shoe, some writing on the beams. For a long time the place where the old house had stood was left empty, the only signs it had ever existed were a ring of trees and an artesian well. When Daddy built a shop there, an angry March tornado tore it down with harsh winds, as if to say nothing but the house belonged inside the stand of trees.

I kept the baby jars high on a shelf in my room until long after I went to college. I must have been about nine years old when I put them on the shelf and slid them back behind my books. My mother found them when she packed to move, at least twelve years later. I found them in the attic of my little house last summer, long forgotten, nestled in a blue and white floral box among beloved childhood books, cards and letters from romances long past, the cap I wore when I graduated, vacation Bible school crafts. For thirty years they have been carefully packed away, a reminder of that house and how sad I was when Daddy tore it down. I cannot part with them now.


jason evans said...

I'm intrigued by the stories in the walls.

Beautifully written. :)

Kim said...

Your comment put a big smile on my face yesterday. Thanks, Jason.

lady macleod said...

I don't know whether to smile at the joy or cry at the loss. Quite well written. I enjoyed this.

Kim said...

What a lovely comment, Lady MacLeod. Thank you and I'm so glad you enjoyed it.