Along that Gravel Road

Twisting and turning along the uneven gravel roads, my grandfather explains the life he has lived. As we slowly drive down the gravel roads and through memory lane, we stop to appreciate the scenery. There is a little rusty, old, red barn, still standing in my great grandfather’s homestead. The only building left to represent all that my great grandfather did for our family.

This is how the story began; the crisp Saskatchewan air creeps into the little farm house. As the sun slowly rises for another day of work, the house begins to creak and moan as one by one the family begins to awaken. Many years ago, my great grandfather started our little family farm from the ground up with his wife and eleven children. They began a lifestyle that would be passed down through generations. The farm is what we knew, it was our way of life.

“All throughout the year, us boys took care of the outdoor chores; feeding the pigs, chickens and cows as well as making sure everything was in tip top shape for seeding and harvest when that time of year rolled around. The girls had very different jobs compared to the boys. They were expected not to miss a day of school; your great grandpa always said, ‘the girls are going to go far; they will become your future doctors.’ Well your great grandfather was wrong on the doctor part, but he did know the girls were very smart. Along with school the girls had the responsibility to help Granny with the house work; cleaning, cooking and of course making Grannies famous bread. You have no idea how great my mother’s bread was!

“Now you see, winter was a big season to keep the livestock well and healthy. However, it was spring and fall that made ends meet. Harvest was your great grandfather’s biggest investment. Day in and day out he wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, but working on the farm.

“I should say this though; your great grandfather did not expect all of us boys to stay with the farm once they got older. He wanted the boys, and of course the girls, to pursue any career they had their mind set on and so, many of them went off and did bigger things. As one by one some of my brothers and sisters would leave the farm, my dad would never forget to say this one thing; ‘you may leave the farm, but don’t forget, the farm will never leave you.’

“Your great grandfather started this family production with 160 acres; with the help of your five great uncles, five cousins, your brother, your father and I; we have grown the family farm to withstand twenty-two thousand acres. I know in my heart and in this land, and if your great grandfather was with us today; he would be giving all of us a pat on the back. He would be smiling and saying; ‘you did good my boys.’”

Grandpa and I took those long gravels roads back to Grandma’s house for lunch. Going over each bump and hill will always send butterflies up into my chest; the best feeling in the world. Many things can describe someone as a “Saskatchewan Person,” but what describes my version is the farm that my great grandfather started back in the old days; with the little red barn standing up in the original homestead. These are my roots, a place I can always fall back to when life gets hard.

Just remember; “some of us may leave the farm, but the farm will never leave us.”

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As the Dust is Flying

Home is not the walls I grew up in; home is the people that lived with me inside those walls. Home is the sun beating through the window on September Saturday mornings and watching the dust hang in the air from the previous night’s harvest. The noise has now settled and peace is restored once again; even if it is only for a short amount of time. The smell of mom and dad’s morning coffee lingers up through the air vents and into my room. Their home is my home.

Once seven hits, the rush is on. Lunches are made and packed and out the door he goes; another work day in the field. Mom and I say goodbye to the peacefulness of the house as one by one the combines leave the yard. The dust again ascends into the air and the peace will not be recovered until dusk approaches on another harvest night.

The sizzling bacon is what really motivates me to wake up. I drag myself out of bed, shuffle down the stairs to find bacon and eggs waiting for me on the family table. My mother waits for me to get seated before she makes up her plate. Comfort warms my body as Mom and I share yet another Saturday morning breakfast together. However, we know not to get to comfortable; our work day has just begun.

While Dad is in the field, mom busies herself in the kitchen, preparing the meal for the men’s supper. Meat, potatoes, veggies, and of course, dessert are all prepared fresh that day. Every pot and pan we own is sprawled over the kitchen counters. Measuring cups, spatulas and wooden spoons are filled with all kinds of ingredients. Organization is not always key in mom’s kitchen! Oven timers beeping and electric mixers are spiraling out of control to ensure the dessert is done for the evening. All this work for the men that will devour it in seconds, give a quick thank you and head right back to work.

As Mom is working in her messy kitchen, I sit at the family table. Papers and bills are spread as chaotically as mom’s dishes; harvest is a busy time of year. As I aimlessly look over my English notes, Mom has the radio on. She hums and sings to whatever “Dirty Dancing” song is on at the moment. I, not being to involved in my work join in with her singing. This is what home looks like to me. Mom in the kitchen and me doing my homework. It has been like this since I can remember, and it will stay like this for years to come.

Crunch time is near, time to get the truck packed and get Mom sent off to the field with the delicious meal she has prepared. As I help her pack the clinking of cutlery and cup mixes with the noise of combines in the distance. A rush of happiness and “homeness” comes out of the oven as the comforting food is pulled out. Mom’s cooking would make anyone feel at home.

We are off to the field; the overpowering scents of meat and potatoes makes your stomach growl with every sniff. We arrive at the field, and the men gobble down the food, as if it’s the last meal they will ever get to eat. Supper is finished in a hurry and the combines start up once again leaving the dust to linger behind them.

Another work day is in the books. The dust is once again settled onto the trees and the grass and peace, once again returns throughout the house. The kitchen is cleaned and relaxation falls over our weary faces and tired bodies. When we wake up tomorrow, we will start the routine all over again. Home is not the walls that surround me, but the busy September Saturday’s. Home is the farm, with my loving parents.