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Going home

February 25, 2010

My father lives about 10 miles from us, at the end of a county-maintained dirt road and at the bottom of a dad-maintained driveway that is sometimes muddy and always rocky and steep. It is also eight-tenths-of-a-mile long and is among the few things that he always describes with precision, like the depth of the pond (16 feet), the length of its longest fish (24 inches), the price of milk or lettuce or whole chickens at ALDI (variable but always noted).

For many years when my siblings and I were kids, all five of us got off the bus together at the top of the driveway and walked home. When it wasn’t too cold and he was in a teaching mood, Dad would make us walk up to our ride in the morning, too. (It was uphill only one way.)

One day last weekend while D was working, Jack and I parked at the top and walked in to spend the day. It was his first trip down as a toddler interested in walking it by himself.

The morning was chilly and gray, and it rained on us, but inside Dad had a fire going.

I have a burn scar on my hand from a long-ago collision with this stove, but I hold no grudges. I grew up with it as our sole source of heat, and I still love to warm up by standing scorchingly close. Luckily, Jack has better sense and circulation. It was a record-setting day for him and the word “hot.”

And for stairs. At my dad’s house, for each one climbed, you feel like you skipped one.

He cooked us a big breakfast and a big Sunday dinner. For Jack’s entertainment he brought out a wooden mallet, four tambourines, our old wooden marble shoot set, and at least 10 chocolate chip cookies. He sent him home with the Radio Flyer tricycle he bought me when I was just big enough to ride it through Wal-Mart to the checkout. After a couple of decades outside, there’s no more shiny red lustre – but no less appeal for my son, who just sees it as a new set of wheels.

We should visit more often.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010 6:54 pm

    This is such a sweet post — as they always are. It makes me think of my grandparents’ farm, just about 50 miles from there… I can’t believe how big Jack is! I hope we’ll get to see him in person in a few months!

  2. February 25, 2010 7:26 pm

    Wow, how cool to live just steps from so much of your history. Jack’s a lucky kid.

  3. February 25, 2010 7:29 pm

    Sounds “homey” and warm.

  4. milkandmusic permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:08 pm

    Jack does look big-boyish in these pictures! Another cool post – love your dad’s precision at ALDI, his kid toys (four tambourines, yes!) and your wal-mart trike ride. Keep it coming, sister!

  5. February 26, 2010 1:13 am

    What a beautiful place to live down the road from 🙂 Those pictures are adorable…

  6. February 26, 2010 4:57 am

    It sounds like such a lovely day — and I just love that first photo with the bright orange jacket.

  7. February 26, 2010 10:07 am

    You write so beautifully! I love reading your post.
    We had only a Wood Burning stove as our sole source of heat my entire childhood. I have too have a scar from getting just to close. We (me and my 3 other siblings) always reminisce about the days when that was all we had and how once my younger brother (as a young child) burned his buttock when he got a little to close after a bath on night (LOL)!

  8. February 26, 2010 7:47 pm

    The heart in this post is palpable. The pictures are wonderful. There is nothing better than going home, than sinking into a glorious past with your future right beside you soaking it all up.

    Thrilled to have found you via the Momalom comment box 🙂

  9. February 26, 2010 11:45 pm

    I’m kind of intrigued by this house you grew up in. And your Dad. And your country life. And wood-burning stoves being the only source of your heat.

    As always, you bring me in with your writing. Thanks!

  10. March 2, 2010 12:01 am

    Nice to have found you, another go-to-work mom. I enjoyed this post. Warmth from a fire and home-cooked meals with generations of loved ones make for the best visits.

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