Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farm Ponds, Horse Shit & Other Memories of the Midwest

"Kind of reminds ya of home, doesn't it..." he said, casting me a smile over his shoulder as he turned back to his line. It tightened with the tell of a bite. His smile grew bigger. Smell that...and he held out the taddle-tale line's catch. I took a drag of the farm pond water infused bass. Turns out, that humid color of green algae is my hallucinogen for home. Lids closed, I devolved 15 years. Briefly taking my eyes off rod and line, I hoped my fishing partner wasn't looking my way right then and didn't notice my inattentional daydreaming. He probably did though...he seems to like looking at me. A lot. In that blink, bottom layered memories stratified, much like this pond would soon do -- turning over...


There was an old brick well house on the farm where I grew up. It had an electric pump that stayed warm in the winter, and every now and again when you'd creak in through the wood door held shut by bailing wire, there would be a large bull snake wrapped around the motor. In the winter months, I tried my hardest to make sure "watering horses" landed on my sister's chore list. But the summer months? Now that was a different story. Armed with steel-wire brushes, the mission was to reclaim the stock-tank-swimming-pool; pushing the line, determinedly beating back the blooming algae. Icy water pulsed rhythmically out of the white PVC tube drain as my sister and I laid back victoriously, basking in the territory won as our farmer-tanned arms hung cockily over the galvanized edge. Ahh...

...and then there was the smell of the creek. Indian Creek. We slid down its banks -- over, and over, and over again, my sister and I -- stripping ourselves and also its brome covered banks. My mother dreaded our muddy maraud home. These things, these memories, are an inheritance. Juxtaposed to material heirlooms, they are the wonder within the wardrobe. The receivers of such magic, such worlds, are the ones who leave....the explorers, the adventurers, the ones who don't want to settle down, the ones who aren't content with being read a description -- they want to write it. They are the storytellers, the ones who are curious --what is out the front door -- even though they know that crossing the step of stability is a dangerous business. They are the ones who name a foreign peninsula New Amsterdam, a settlement in Nebraska Gothenburg, and their wanderings across that threshold is why we have myriad Yorks, Cambridges, and Hamburgs. They found familiarity in the foreign. And though thresholds, rivers, ranges, and countries are crossed, home is never lost. It is always carried with...

...found in a line of trees, a donut pond, and the feeling I get driving home on cow pasture lined highways. These things I seek. They infected me early, and I am a lifelong carrier. Consciously or sub.....I will leave that to you, reader, to decide. But wherever I go, I recreate bits of home. I find it. It is why I have a clock above my kitchen sink, why I sing old Baptist hymns when no one is around, why I don't hang curtains on my windows, why I kick piles of horse shit to "freshen" the air, and why I love being above treeline...

...I crave Midwest horizons. Ironically, now I live in a canyon. But we adventurous ones, we always find home. And, in the most curious of places -- there are always reminders. Even, in a canyon compassed view. And even, in the smell of a farm pond...

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