I lived with my Granny during the 2nd and 3rd grade. It was a great time to live in a small town. Kids had free range. All the neighbors knew each other, and if you misbehaved, they didn’t mind calling Granny and telling her. Like the time I discovered how delicious fresh peas were right from the pod in the neighbor’s yard. I should have thought to pick up the pods. They were evidence. The neighbor got me back, though.
She locked herself out of her house, and I was pushed through a small bathroom window, which was scary as it was high. I was promised an all-day sucker, but that never happened. Adults shouldn’t break promises to kids.
But the hills above are my touchstone. Their strength, their bigness, dominates the landscape. Just looking at them makes me homesick. They have a new highway that goes up them, but back in the day, it was a narrow road, with a lot of switchbacks. Halfway up was a short cross that was stuck in the ground, with tattered fabric fluttering in the wind. The song, “Old Rugged Cross” always came to mind and reminds me of home.
I don’t know who owns this house, but it is picture worthy. I especially like the whimsical cow in the front yard. How many people have that? It makes the owner happy and that’s all that counts. I might need to use it in a book sometime.
Then there is this lovely old lady. Her bones are there, even if they are leaning to the side.
I drove down to Long Creek, Oregon with my aunt and sister. My aunt is seven years older than I am, and one summer we spent a week or two there. I always wanted to go back. A small town with only a few hundred souls…I am related to some of them. Now I don’t know if this is the same house, but I remembered the side of the street (mind you I was seven) and that there were two stories, as we slept upstairs and the front porch had a railing, which I fell off onto some rose bushes. Yes, they had thorns and I was warned to be careful. This house might be hers…I would have to do some serious research. But it must have been beautiful in it’s day.
Back in the day, we went to the General Store and the storekeeper asked me who I belonged to. That question stumped me. Then I blurted out, I’m with my granny visiting with Aunt Dot and pointed in the direction of the house. He asked my granny’s name, and once I told him, he nodded.
Aunt Dot had a brother named Walter. Now that was a character. He lived in a small house, but he had a burro or donkey which he used to go into the hills. He had a ‘hidden’ gold mine and when he would run low on funds, he’d take his sack of dirt from the mine and throw a couple of handfuls into his gold pan until he found what he needed. From what I remember, he’d strike out alone with said burro and wouldn’t tell anyone where his mine was. There were carrots in his garden as a treat for the burro and as a kid you can imagine my delight in pulling a few, washing them off and feeding the burro. He showed me how to pan and picked a nugget out and gave it to me. I wish I still had it.
My ancestors were among the first settlers of the Oregon territory, getting there by wagon train. I admire their spirit and dedication to conquer new lands. Visiting where they lived and raised family makes me appreciate all the people who came before me…I only hope that the generations that follow me get the same feeling.
You can go home again. It’s not the same, but it touches emotions that are part of your being.
If you are living far from your hometown, what is it you miss the most?