Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Land spreadin' out so far and wide

Last week we had a death in our family. I took off work on Friday and headed north. My hometown of New Castle is two hours from Bloomington. The calling was at a funeral home in Hagerstown - about twenty to thirty minutes from New Castle. As I was driving out to Hagerstown, the sights reminded me of all I hold dear. Why I am proud to be a Hoosier. Why I feel the Hoosier state is beautiful.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide was what went through my mind. Up where I am from the land is flat and you can see forever. Down here in the southern part of the state it is hilly.
On Friday when I drove up, we were having snow flurries. The farther I drove, the worse it got. By the time I was on State Road 70 and near to my hometown I could barely see two car lengths ahead of me. I was doing sixty and cars were speeding past me. People in Indiana drive crazy in the snow. As you can see in the photo below, the skies were thick and grey with clouds.
 I pulled over to take a few photos.  I loved this falling down barn.
 And this falling down shed.
 The remains of a home- the front steps.
 The windmill on the same property.  I love this photo.  When do you ever see windmills?
This old farm. You can see the trees along the fence row off in the distance standing tall like skeletons in the snowy air.
Fence rows, barns, grain silos, fields where crops are planted. I drove past a house with an old grain wagon in the front yard with a for sale sign on the side.
There is a saying in Indiana, "there's more than corn in Indiana."  I like to say "no, there isn't." That isn't really true if you count the soybeans.
People don't farm down here like they do where I'm from.It is too hilly and the ground is filled with limestone.

I don't have air-conditioning in my car and I love driving with the sunroof kicked back and the windows down. And the reason is because of where I'm from. I loved the smells and sounds of farming. To me, it was intoxicating.
My Dad's family farmed. His Dad farmed a huge farm in Losantville - a small town on the east side of the state.

I arrived at the funeral home and all of my cousins were there. We all grew up together on that farm. We would have family get-togethers and the house would be over-flowing with people. We would gather around her kitchen table to pray at Christmastime.  It was like being on the Waltons. Everyone wanted to be in the big farm kitchen.

Grandma's farm was a wonderful place.  A large two-story house with a wrap-around porch. Tall pines and a grove of Catalpa trees. Metal rockers in the front yard. We went to my Grandma's almost every Saturday when I was growing up. I would strain my eyes to see the Catalpa grove which was visible for miles down the road.

Then Grandma passed away. Then a few years later my family sold the farm. It was so sad to me when the farm was out of our family's hands. The farm was my thinking place. Even after Grandma passed away, I would drive out there and walk the farm and think - try to sort everything out in my head.

The guy who bought it bull-dozed it all and turned it all back into farm land. I hear he has built a house on the land now. I don't want to see what he did to it because it would break my heart. I don't want that picture in my mind. I will take my memories, thank you very much.

It is always sad to say good-bye to a loved one, but this time at the funeral home was made bearable by the love of our family.  Isn't that how it is supposed to be?  Being with cousins is like being in a secret club. We all know each other. We all remember the same stories. We talked and laughed and shed some tears and lots of hugs.


^..^Corgidogmama said...

What a cool, heartfelt post. You think exactly how I do. I've said this before! It's always hard to lose someone, but how wonderful that you were able to feel all these things and "see" with your heart's eye on your journey to family.

Kris said...

I too enjoyed this post. I could just see you, going along the highway, and stopping every now and then to take a photo!
I am so sorry for your loss.
I loved the way you described being with family and with cousins. The ones who know all of your secrets and remember all the same stories. Charming....and well written. And heart felt.
xo Kris

Donna said...

makes two people friends? Strikes me that it is no one thing. If it is one thing, that is not a friendship, it is a limited partnership based on something besides themselves (like having kids on the same ball team or working at the same place). What I'm getting to is that I just realized, reading this post, that you and I share such a similar childhood on the farm. I think it is one of many elements that makes us understand each other in ways we don't normally verbalize.
I applaud you loudly (clap! clap!) for attending your uncle's funeral. I have yet to hear of anyone who ever regretted attending a funeral or a calling. This is something we can do for someone else that means more than words can say. It is overwhelmingly comforting to be there, in the funeral home, and dealing with all there is to deal with, and then you SPOT PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU and WHO DIDN'T HAVE TO BE THERE and would have FINE EXCUSES not to be there, yet they ARE THERE.
At such occasions we always vow to get together more with people we love. Often we don't. But to be there at that place and time is a tremendous comfort, a soft place to fall.
These cousins will one day show up for you when you have a loss. We reap what we sew, Cheryl. You sew well.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Yes it's sad to loose a farm but more sad when a loved one goes. I love the way you took us to the final stoping place of your post and planting the family secrets idea into our minds.

Holly said...

I'm sorry for your loss (family member and the farm). I remember how hard it was on me when my grandparents Indiana farm was sold. I tried to find it when I went back a few yers ago and drove past it three times before I realized how much it had changed. Wish I had never driven by.

Jen Kershner said...

Some of my best family memories were from funerals. I always love the stories and the coming together that happens at that time.

There is nothing like the midwest is there? I loved your description. It made me feel like I was there!

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