Posted tagged ‘Memory’

Farm house barometers: it’s cold and it snowed


On snowing, snowy, wind-chilled, mornings, colder-than-a-second-grade-girl-friends-leer, I didn’t need to look out the window to know it was cold. All I had to do was open my eyes.  If it was near zero: say from 5F to 10F, then I would see my breath.  Yes. Indoors. In my room. While in bed.  Did I mention my room was a bit chilly?

I’d lay there and expel air in small amounts creating tiny clouds of breath-fog. Each one, once expelled, would rapidly ascend to the angled attic roof, not 8″ above my head, where they would collide and be destroyed. Then I’d repeat in variations until I was ready to retire, under-the-covers and attempt to not hear my mom calling me to, “Get up and go ____!”  That blank could be everything from ‘milk the cow’ to ‘get ready for school’.  Welcome to my ‘Farm Life’.  For real!

Growing up in the late ’50s and early ’60s, in rural Hoosierville, we did not enjoy the so-called advances of the new phenomena called… Suburbs.  We simply lived in farm houses; on the a farm; surrounded by farms; scatted with cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and whatever else was raised or tolerated.  We lived country life … for real.

Part of that reality was this, houses were poorly insulated, even more poorly heated and were often just barely windbreaks in the colder months.  I say barely windbreaks, because there were a lot of drafty entry points in every house. Well beyond the drafty doors and windows, we had drafty corners, floors, roofs and walls.  Nearly any place, two pieces of building material met, could produce a draft.  In fact it was more likely to produce a draft than it was to keep one out.  Old timbers. Unskilled construction. Decades of drying out. Limited use of paint. And you have drafts.

We didn’t have many colds though. Guess the environment was too conducive to healthy auto-immune conditions.  We did have runny noses on cold mornings: today referred to a ‘nasal drip’.  And when you woke on a cold, frosty morning – in a drafty room – one of your first hints of a really cold morning, was the frozen snot on your cheeks.  Sure it’s gross. Even more so in person than in the imagination.  But you cannot deny the infallible validation it gave to the conditions; both inside the house and out.  It WAS COLD!

When that cold morning also showed it was blessed with a new coating of snow; the more the merrier; I didn’t need to look out the window for that indication either.  I looked into the ‘snow corner’. Yes, it had a physical location and designation.  Heck, if I’d have known anything about GIS then, I’d have had the UTM coordinates as well.  As it was, it was just known as the ‘snow corner’.

The ‘snow corner’ was my go-to-spot for letting me know: before doing the unthinkable act of breaking the heat-seal of 30 pounds of quilts and covers sparing me from the cold outer reaches of my below-zero universe-of-a-room.   Peeping out of the covers, leaning over the bed, and staring into the far NW corner of my room, where little if any light existed for visual verification, until later in the afternoon; a time I would never get to see from bed, unless I was extremely ill; I’d try to determine if there was snow on the floor.

If I found snow, then it had snowed outdoors in the night.  How much snow depended on two things:  1) How windy  and  2) How snowy.  Both were also dependent upon the length of time each was involved in production.

As I peered into the corner I would longingly look and hope for a huge drift of snow. Reaching well out into the room; not along the wall, but into the room.  Such a find would be jubilant enough to toss me out of my warm cocoon and into the frozen wasteland of my room!  For it meant LOTS of snow; HUGE drifts and definitely NO SCHOOL.  It did mean however, a lot of shoveling and dragging stuff  through the snow to care for farm duties.  But nothing in life is free.. right?  So, the rent for freedom from school was the added weight to the farm chores.  Dividends, no doubt, the envy of Wall Street.  I’m sure!

However, on most occasions the event was far more subtle.  It was more akin to the deft shadowing an artist would use to merely suggest depth in a faint image of a feather.  Barely perceptible … and definitely hugging the wall. There would not be an unmistakable drift.  No, it would be a small parlance of crystals, just barely large enough to gather light for a tiny, barely perceptible glint of reflection.

I would lean so hard to see this revelation, that many times I nearly fell from the graces of my warm confines and onto the tundra – that was more commonly referred to as – my floor. Upon which on more than one occasion I had the privilege of a physics lessons in thermal transfer.  Hot chocolate freezing near instantaneously when hitting a near sub-zero clime.  The accidental discoveries were always more preferred to the monotonous reminder that I’d have to rouse from what warm area I’d discovered to get more hot chocolate if I didn’t stop the experiments!

As stated, the more likely outcome of the wind and snow would reveal but a streak of snow crystals present.  Thus, letting me know that outside, school and farm chores were both on the docket.  And soon mom would begin her morning ritual of attempting to resurrect the near-dead to some sort of readiness for the day.  Translated: get us out of her hair and pronto.

Now, all these years later, on snowy, windy days I watch the snow with care.  I image once again those days, when I would summon my farmhouse barometers of the little breath fogs and the snow-corner for indications of just what kind of day lay in store.

Like most kids, I really did not appreciate those times.  They all blew by so fast.  But at least the memories have not all passed upwards, crashing into the roof overhead to become as ethereal as the breath-fogs.  And even though most of these memories are more like the sparse crystals of snow that lined the wall in the snow-corner. It is possible to whip up the winds of memory and rouse a good blow so that the memories become bigger, clearer and more complete.

Call it what you will.  They all did happen. And happened as they are told. The styling of the story may be padded with a bit of embellishment.  But, for that matter, what part of my being has not suffered the same, over the years.?



The Home-Ground: an introduction


Today I begin a detailed, yet hap-hazard, journal of memories.

Memories of my life, living and growing up on a small farm in western Indiana, on the banks of a stream in which my view of life was baptized and will forever remain locked in a love affair with the natural world.

This journal is the seeding for a book. A book I’ve long wanted to write and even more importantly, I needed to write.  This book will detail my life growing up in, on, around and among the waters of this stream.  The waters of this stream have an ever-present flow in and out; fully encompassing my life.  I ebb and flow on its undulating pulse.

I didn’t really know how to describe my feelings about this rivulet of water. Not until I watched – for the third go-round, the infamous movie version of Norman Maclean’s story, A River Runs Through It.  The final words in the movie, read by the author himself, are the same as those in the story. They are: I am haunted by waters.

Profound.  Insightful.  Revealing.  Deafening.  Frightening.

Completely unexpected, I had feelings gushing upward through my emotional mantel. Coming from somewhere inside, in a deep seated cavern of sequestered protection.  A place I sensed, but did not have a clue to its location.  With it surged a flood of emotions, capped by flooding tears, accompanied by a jolting wave of sobs.  What good fortune it was for me that this revelatory event took place in my own living room, in the predawn hours, while my wife and son were asleep in their rooms, carefully cloistered away from the man breaking down not 8 yards from either of them.

How could have I missed, before, the cataclysmic force unleashed in those 5 words?  Did I really miss them?  Had I just not understood them?  Questions I honestly don’t know the answer to.  But I do know that in that moment, during the serendipitous late-night, channel surfing,  I had an explanation for what that little stream in western Indiana meant to me.

For I too, am haunted by waters.   And I am eternally grateful.

The water in a stream never stops, never rests, never remains in one place.  The water is always moving, changing, being changed, actively involved, never passive.  Life is just like this. Even when we think time has stood still, it is only our mind’s perception of halted time, that is in neutral. For all life is constantly flowing in the same stream.  Nothing ever stands still.

I eventually left the banks of my beloved stream.  But only physically.  That was almost 38 years ago.  Yet, to the very second I am typing this my every action is directed, mentored, motivated and purposed… by what I lived and learned along the banks of that stream.

I am compelled to write of this stream and it’s effects on my life. Not by vanity, but a desire to tell others of the richness it imparted to me.  The story may only be a work of recording memory for an unwilling audience, but at least it will have been recorded.  And if, perchance, one other person feels anything positive from reading it, then the effort was a compete success.  I am, however, optimistic.  I do believe many people will be compelled to read the book. Compelled for the same reasons that compel me to write it: the richness of it all is overwhelming and it beckons to be touched, tasted, breathed in deeply, exhaled lightly, supped, cherished. It will be at this point, when the reader of my book, sees their own home-ground in a light of loving appreciation. For the first time, or for the umpteenth time. Either way… it is all good.

Thus the saga of my remembering – mes mémoire dú coeur – my memories of the heart, on the little stream in western Hoosierville, begins.

What Papa Bear and The Gar People Taught Me About Life .. begins now.


From the series, “In The Shadow of Gar Island: a life of wonder on the edge of the Hoosier prairie”

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Merci … Thank You!


There is no finer action one can take, when beginning anything, than to express THANKS for the opportunity to be a part of the event.  Letting all who are a part of your efforts and life involved with the event, that you are Thankful for their involvement.

There is no finer ending to an event than to express gratitude and thankfulness for the efforts of all who were involved and make the outcome a success.

Thus, in keeping with this spirit, I take this opportunity to THANK YOU for being a part of the readership of this blog and the efforts found on other online and Social Networking outlets.

I do hope you will enjoy the reading of the stories and information presented here.  As well, even more so, I do hope you will find this publication to be a source of influence and inspiration to begin your journey into publishing your own Gratitude Journal.

I will be speaking more about this and much more.

Now grab a pen or pencil and a notebook, or if you prefer (as I do) your favorite keyboard and start writing down the details of your daily life in an effort to have a detailed record to afford you full details on what to be thankful for; whom to thank; when to offer that thanks and how to be more appreciative as life goes on.

From the mists of memory, set free with your pen, the ephemeral moments you live – and remember – to become the fortified guideposts of your life.     … memdecoeur

Best speed possible..