I'm behind. I started writing this post as we were returning from Indiana. Now we're back and I feel I'm moving on towards saying goodbye to Austin - again. But, there is still so much to wrap up about our Indiana visit. Perhaps this post will suffice. Then on to the final days in taco-ville.
There are a handful of places in the world where I can close my eyes and be transported. The Grove family farm, outside Muncie, is one of them. The Groves – Bob and Sandy – are close family friends from the “yankee” part of our life. Bob had been my parents’ high school principal, when my parents married they went to the same church as the Groves, their daughter (Angela) used to baby-sit my brother and I, their son (Michael) used to let my brother play with his super cool big-kid trucks and action figures.
There won’t be any way to do it justice here, but going out to Bob and Sandy’s was so much about the smells and tastes of the farm. Life there always included several big meals – especially the midday meal. Food like chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and homemade yeast rolls were not reserved for special occasions, they were the norm. The air was always sweet with the smells of peonies in full bloom, crab apples on the tree and the ones that fell in the dirt to rot and the smell of hogs (which is not sweet literally, but sweet for the memory – we always used to get a piglet to play with and care for during the few days we stayed out there every summer).
When I close my eyes, Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Bob’s farm (we called them that long before they had there own grandchildren) is straight from a movie set – rolling green hills and a pasture, a tank (funny, I think that’s a Texas term – they called it the pond), laundry swaying on the line, a rope swing, farm dogs, a cellar, bees. Their house was once a one-room, log schoolhouse. The living room has 12 inch think walls – built up around the logs. The floors are uneven in places. There is this very specific smell of well water in the bathroom – we used to spend lots of time in there because if you moved the door just right the mirror would reflect millions of Jodis and Christians into infinity.
I believe we are truly coming to the end of an era. They’re selling the farm. They don’t farm much anymore. They rent out parts of their land. No more cows. No more hogs. In the winter, they get snowed in. But, it’s hard for them to sell it too. When I responded in shock that they were moving, Grandma Sandy said, through tears, “I can’t talk about it.” It makes me realize that perhaps they never really knew that the memories created there were not just theirs. It’s funny how a place can hold so much. At some point the other day someone said, “Has anyone told Christian?” My brother takes changes like this especially hard (even at the ripe ol’ age of thirty-two).
So, on our last visit there, we enjoyed a classic Grandma Sandy favorite – blackberry dumplings. Blackberries picked fresh from the vine (we used to collect them in buckets from the woods as children), stewed up with a little sugar and donut-like pastries, served hot with vanilla ice cream. Pure farm. Pure memories.