Today I was in southern Iowa putting a garden to bed for the winter. This garden is more than 120 years old. It has stones all around the borders of each bed and sits just off to the side of the old white farm house.
It is my Grandfather’s farm, my mothers home as a child. No one has lived in the house for at least 15 or more years but all the trampings of life remain within and without. A few of us gathered to trim, clean and mulch the garden beds for winter. We then moved in doors to photograph, list and prepare the house for closing it down.
It is a stately old place. Not huge but a good size place that housed seven children and two adults a long time ago (early 1900’s). There are still hints of their daily life left for us –
- a meat grinder in the attic,
- an upright radio – with glass tubes and looks like it came from 1930’s
- vases and vases and vases for flowers,
- all the little Swedish trolls,
- trays with painted rosemaling,
- a draw of good silverware (real silver) – 12 knives, 12 forks, 6 spoons (what happened to the other spoons?)
- a quilt frame,
- three trunks (one that came over from Sweden with a rounded top)
- dishes, glasses and tea sets
I know what to do with the memories. I write about them. I share them with friends and family. The question is what do we do with the things? There are only so many flower vases one needs in their life and I feel I have Swedish trolls and wooden horses taking over my house.
Each time I go something more returns with me even through I have promised to not bring anything home. This time it is a small rocking chair found in a corner looking lovely and lonely, a set of glass plates and coffee cups (don’t even ask – I liked them and no one took them, they are round not oval like so many we have found- there were at least three other sets all oval) and a very heavy set of camping plates, cups and pans ( again – will we use them – no – they are really heavy but just to cool to leave sitting on the attic floor.)
So the sorting continues, the memories arise and are shared. The photos are taken and we return to our homes and our modern day world of cell phones, computers and microwaves amazed at the life our families lived years ago. We are glad for our current houses and homes but not yet willing to let go of the old family homestead.
How are we ever going to let go of that beautiful old place?