Sunday, August 5, 2007

Goodbye to Grandpa's Farm

Sue Groseclose Combs

I am here to say goodbye to the land where I spent so much of my youth.

This was my Grandfather's farm. My Dad was born and raised upon this red clay. I spent every Summer for years in this very place.

When my Dad died, my brother and I made the decision to sell the farm to our cousin. The farm will remain in the family as it should be. There is building going on all around the little homestead....half a million and million dollar homes are being built on old Groseclose Road. So very different from the tiny house where my Grandfather lived.

The road was named for my Grandfather and his brother Bill. They were never apart a day in their lives. One owned a farm on each side of the road and spent their lives there, never venturing too far from it's rugged fence posts and ramshackle barns. One of my cousins now owns her father's tract of land and another will own Grandpa's. They butt up to a wonderful dairy farm so this area will, at least for a great number of years, thankfully remain family farms.

My daughter Grace and I walked down the old road and I took in the sights and smells and sounds....the cows mooing back and forth, warning one another of these trespassers.The songbirds calling to one another and filling the heavy air with music. The hornets busily building shelter. The sweet smell of fresh mown hay....the hazy late Summer sky.

The old house will be torn down soon. It has been empty for many years and needs to go but, at one time, the little white house with the tin roof held lots of laughing cousins....giggling as they tore through the kitchen chasing yet another barn kitten. My Aunt, endlessly it seemed, cooking over her beloved coal stove, would call out, "You' ins stop all that ruckus right now ya heah?" But we all knew she never really meant it. My Grandpa could always be heard to shout out, "Sister? Let the children be!" We could do no wrong with him. We would play tag amidst the wet laundry flapping in the breeze , tease one another about dropping a favorite toy into the deep well, or feeding the mules, horses and cows while we argued over what their names should be. Rocket! No...Buttercup. "Are you girls crazy?", the boys would shout almost in unison. How about Commando? *insert screaming girls* Princess! Princess! And no matter where we were, Barry, my Grandpa's beagle, was there as well. There were beans to pick and cows to milk, horses to ride and eggs to fetch from the hen house.

There were barns to clean and tomatoes to gather (and throw at one another). There were picnics in the filed and at the dam. There were sparklers and fire crackers illuminating the stark darkness. There were boys searching for arrowheads and girls laying on their backs, watching the clouds roll by, playing, "What do you see?" . There were feather beds piled high with home made quilts atop creaky iron beds. There was an old coal stove in the middle of the living room and no television. Just a radio where my Aunt and Grandfather would listen to a country station late into the evening while rocking on the front porch. The cousins would giggle and tickle one another until my Aunt called, " Mornin' will come early enough now. Stop all that silliness and ya'll go to sleep." We would fall asleep listening to the crickets and those old country songs on that scratchy radio.

Those cousins are mostly all grandparents now and we are all scattered far and wide. We stay in touch via Christmas cards, email and the parents, aunts and uncles who are still with us. It was time to say goodbye to the little house but to smile as I remembered the smiles, the laughter, the love.