Life's Changes Ch. 02byEmeraldKitten©
Turn right on the lane. Go over the bridge, past a cluster of trees we refer to as "the woods", round the curves, and continue on this old country road. You come around the last bend, and there it is.
The farm. The old homestead.
All you can see is trees. Summer is upon us full force.
The only thing that shows it's more than another clump of "woods", is the sunlight reflecting off the barn roof, and the trusty old mail box standing at the end of the lane.
The auction sign also stands, betraying the land, and interrupting the peace I always find here.
I slow down, turning into the driveway hesitantly. A few more weeks and this won't be ours. This won't be where we come to have holidays, and it's no longer the sacred haunt of my youth. Someone else will own it, and do with it what they wish.
The inside of the house is in an uproar. Boxes all over the place, bags of trash lining the front porch, waiting to be taken to the end of the lane. Load after load of things taken from there rests in our garage and basement. The merging of two households into one isn't as easy as it seems.
I walk through the house, frowning at the empty walls. Most of the pictures have been removed, and the house stands uneasily, as if it knows it's been stripped of something special.
I head for the barn, and am surprised to find my hands shaking. This isn't as easy as I planned. The workers have cleared out trash and junk, so that all that's left is more junk that's in better condition. I smile as I run my hand along my old wooden high chair, eyeing the streaks in the dust through my tears.
Taking a few deep breaths, a stack of books draws my attention. Stepping carefully, I make my way to them and smile as I look at the dates inside. 1942, 1946, 1925, 1915. Shaking my head, I move away, and go to the next treasure.
Stepping into the sunlight outside the barn door I take another deep breath, willing the tears to stay down. This is how it must be. The rock of the family is gone, so here we all are, rummaging through her things, rifling through papers and receipts, deciding what's trash, what's junk, what needs saved and what goes to who. It doesn't feel right, and I feel like we're invading her privacy. I know it's silly, and I know she understands. Still, it's a hard job on the heart.
I make my way slowly back to the house, mindful of the cats that are entangling themselves in my legs. My eyes drift along the exterior of the home, and again I frown. Some shingles are missing, and the brown paint is faded and peeling in places. Once more I feel like the house is uncomfortable, ashamed of it's appearance.
Walking up the ramp to the front porch, I glance at the bags of trash, and decide I ought to get the truck and haul it down. Past that, there are boxes of stuff, and some things just sitting on the porch, awaiting their fate. I know that sounds dramatic, but that's exactly what's happening. These things are for the auction~ nameless possessions that no one claims and that no one is interested in. Junk that means nothing to anyone.
Yet it is all bittersweet.
I head upstairs to find my mom and my aunt going through a closet. An old hat box had become the home to paper dolls, patterns, material, spools of thread, and an old corset. The next box reveals war ration coupons, the receipts from the materials it took to build the house, and the blue prints to the house. We've decided to leave them somewhere for the future owner to find. If they decide to level the house, then the blue prints will get buried right along with it.
Old framed pictures come next, each more interesting than the last. Still, sadness falls upon us. The morbid job we're performing seems unreal.
I can't take much more of that, so I head back outside. To the barn, then around behind it. Back to the house. I'm restless. Unsure of what to do; of where to go. The whole thing hurts my feelings, and I'm uncomfortable no matter what. The cats eye me curiously, as if they're asking me what my problem is.
I finally decide to take a break, so I head for the front plot of land. Settling myself into the soft grass, I light a cigarette and beg my nerves to stabilize. It is a beautiful warm sunny day, but there's a chill in my soul. I can't enjoy it. I can't find pleasure in the sun beating down on my head, because all I can think is that Greatma would have appreciated a day like this one.
Once more, I feel the tears sting my eyes, and I taste the salt before I realize I've begun to cry. Irritated with myself and the situation, I butt out my cigarette and stand up, wiping my eyes. As I make my way back to the house, I begin to think.
Thinking about the way Spring brings new life on each flower and tree. The colors in the country are incomparable.
Summer brings the crops and gardens, more flowers and if at all possible, more green. Picnics, cookouts and suntans.
Fall brings a crisp bite to the air. The trees lose their earthly green, replaced instead by reds, oranges, yellows and browns. The country is aflame with autumn.
Winter brings pristine snow covered fields. The Pine trees the only true color left, their heady fragrance promising a festive season.
True, I live in the country too, but not that far out. Our house doesn't have that magical assurance of true country. Our drive way isn't long enough to be considered a 'lane', and snow doesn't coat everything with the same potential.
Where will I go when I want to soul search?
The shrill cry of a cat fight in progress halts my thoughts, and I'm glad for it. There's work to do, things to be done.
I start up the truck and back it to the house, proceeding to toss garbage bags in the bed, ready to haul a load down to the end of the lane. The bags are heavy, not holding normal trash, but items from the house that are broken or useless. I feel a pang in my chest, wondering what treasures I am about to pitch at the side of the road.
On my second trip down, I discover I'm singing a song softly under my breath.
"Sittin' on the front porch, on a summer afternoon... in a straight back chair on two legs, leaned against the wall... watch the kids a'playin, with June bugs on a string, and chase the glowin' fireflies when evenin' shadows fall."
That's it! That's what I'm going to miss. Those idyllic days of summer. Aha, so the mystery of life is solved. No more playing in the hose and drinking from it, no more Country Time Pink Lemonade, no more lightning bugs in a mason jar, no more cornbread and beans and fried potatoes, no more listening to the soft whir of the sewing machine accompanied by a sweet song of some distant bird.
Oh yes, I'll still have those things; but not out there. It just won't have the same zing as it did in my youth, and just up 'til recent.
What will I do this summer?
Greatma doesn't have any flowers for me to water. There's no garden, so that means there won't be corn to shuck, beans to snap, strawberries to slice, cucumbers to peel, tomatoes to can.... there's nothing but that empty hole in my chest, left by the death of my great-grandmother.
Does it ever et any better? I was doing okay until this whole mess with the house came into glaring reality. Going to this auction, watching these things sell is going to rip my heart out and step on it. People say I shouldn't go; that it'd be best to stay away. How can I, when I have so much invested?
Maybe once the auction is over and my grandma is moved out, then maybe I'll be able to put it to rest. I might be able to start the healing process, and forget all about the house.
That's a lie. I'll never forget a single memory I have of being out there.
But perhaps, it won't hurt my heart every time I think about it.
I think back to the day of the funeral. Getting there, talking to people, not really paying attention. I can't recall a word spoken. It's as if all I can remember is my shock at staring at the casket, seeing my beloved Greatma laying there, flowers under her hand, her dress suit too big being pinned beneath her; the flowers encompassing the lower half of the casket.
I think of my mother, my grandma and I clinging to each other; three generations lost, unsure of what to do.
That same feeling is still there. What do we do?
Oh, that's right. Go through the motions.
Wrap things in newspaper, load them in a box, close the box, take it to the car. Drive the load to our house, and go back out for the next batch.
By now the house is basically empty, except the items that are going to be in the auction. The advertisements for the farm have been put out. Yesterday was the first open house, and about forty people showed up. That's a lot. Those forty-some people came out to the country and looked at our souls.