Saturday, May 21, 2016


Whenever I go back now to
my old Columbia Crossroads
place, I face a lot of problems
about it. As previously noted,
the land has been cut and cleared,
the ponds and layout altered,
the roadway cleaned up, and the
house and buildings pretty much
made unrecognizable or anyway
made to look like some rich-man's
country-place. The guy who bought
it from me, by the way, is now buried
up on the hilltop. It's his offspring
now who have taken developmental
and property responsibilities for the
house. I don't know why they wished
for it to look so different, but that's
always the way this generational
stuff goes. I guess no one ever
wants yesterday's version of
poverty rubbed in their faces.
There were, in the rear yard, two
very large, what we called 'Tamarack'
trees. I don't actually know if they
were, and they probably weren't.
But my father-in-law, Colorado
traveler that he was, called them
that upon first seeing them. They
were twin'd trees, both alike and
pretty much equal  -  size, girth,
fullness, etc. They made a beautiful
coverage and carpeting for the yard
as well as, in their grand shade and
cool-rustling noise, a haven for the
dark, cold-temperature, water basin
which collected our spring water.
The yard itself, ever so slightly, was
an even slope downward; almost
imperceptible, but there. At the base
of the slope was the little stream
which came from the ground at the
spring-water source. Always cold
water, and most always flowing.
Once or twice it ceased flow, in
like August or drought-heat, but it
always came back swiftly enough.
It was reliable, and ready, and clean.
I hung a swing-seat from the one tree,
and a tire-swing from the other. They
were really nice, and each tree was
probably a hundred years old. Right 
next to all that was a nice-sized rhubarb
patch, which grew, each year, perfect
rhubarb pie, and jelly, ingredients. 
Anyway, all that's gone now. I can't
figure why, but I guess modernity
and today's world. Young adults
and such today seem to only want
what they've had instilled into them :
Muppet moments, if you will. All
has to be right, proper, and known.
No mysteries, nothing sloppy please.
Too bad. I miss them already, those
trees, and I'm not even there. There
are always parts of me that kept things
in memory  -  a sort of 'banking' for
the future, when I knew somehow that
all of this would be gone. Nothing ever
lasts, and this veritably strange
environment was already, from the 
very first day, one for the record
books. People would come around
just to look  -  one time two elderly
sorts came by, in their car, and 
stopped to ask if they could let
their dog out, loose, just to run 
around a bit and do its doggy 
business. We said 'sure'. They'd
been driving for a couple of hours, 
and were worn out and road-weary.
So we let them have a rest-period, as
long as they and their little doggy
wanted. It was fun. Nobody would 
stop at a barren, empty plane and ask
that  -  our little enclave had drawn 
them in. Vibrational welcome-waves, 
or something. I go past there now and
it looks, by contrast, like a factory. 
One time, the very first Spring we were 
there  -  it was out first occurrence of
the regular, nice warmth of Springtime,
and everything was yet new to us. The
warm sun had been baking the ground
for a day or two. We opened the rear 
door, thinking to go out back, and much
to our (surprise, confusion, chagrin, take
your pick), we were immediately assaulted
by, I speak the truth, at least 10,000 of the
fattest, suckiest flies you'd ever see. They 
had all awakened, or came up or hatched,
or whatever flies do, almost as one in that
new Spring heat. It was the most massive
operation I'd ever seen  -  small-scale or
not. Each footstep seemed to dislodge 
another 100 flies  -  buzzing, fat already,
or large at birth, in your face, blue-black
beauties. It was incredible and immediately
presented to us a question of gigantic
proportions : would they go away? Had
they just hatched and only remained for 
now? Had we to ceded our yard over 
to them? These were things we'd not
been prepared for.
Talk about taming Nature? This was
incredible; a natural overabundance I'd
like to have seen any tree-hugger love-
the-environment type deal with. They'd
be carrying in Raid by the caseload.
I had a two and a half story tool-shed-
type building off to the side, about 100
feet from the house. It was, maybe many
years ago, an adjunct building for the
farmyard work : a place to hang chains 
and pitchforks, tools and ropes, tires, 
and any of that stuff needed for 
farm-work. Another little-known 
aspect of farm-work is the extremes
to which self-sustanence is sought.
Anything that could be fixed, formed,
manipulated or fabricated to avoid a
repair bill or a visit from the repair
truck, and the bills that went with it,
was attempted. Sometimes to almost
miraculous degrees. This building,
for all intents and purposes, served 
as an in-house, on-site workshop.
Mechanics, welding, scorching, 
painting, bending, cleaning, probably
anything short of emergency-room
medical operations, was done there.
It had two good, solid levels, and a 
loft. Railings, hoists, a few windows, 
double-wide double-doors. You 
could do everything except back a
truck in  -  mainly because the building
itself was elevated, maybe four steps
up off the ground. It was great and it 
soon became my favorite place, in the
good weather anyway. All those long
Winter months, I never got to the place.
It was just too rock-solid cold.
The other cool thing here was that on
the plot that acted as my 'front-lawn',
as it were and so to speak, we burned
trash in open fires. Everyone around 
did that, it wasn't my idea or initiation.
There was no trash pickup, so anything
burnable was just burned, maybe once
a week, or whatever. I usually did it 
early on Saturdays. There were two
50-gallon barrels on the front grass 
there too. I'd punched holes in them 
for air-flow (just like the bums did in
New York City  -  lesson learned)
and anything that wasn't just burned
in a pile on the ground was put into
the barrels and fired up. Whatever
didn't burn  -  metal, cans, etc., did
eventually go way out back, to the
treeline far off, where there was a little
personal-family-sized 'dump'. There
was stuff in there, I'd find, from the
1930's or 1920's. Old car headlamps,
when they really were lamps, truck 
parts, tools, lanterns. All sorts of 
things. Open-burning was neither
scoffed at nor talked about. It was
under each person's control; nothing
else ever took up fire, and there never
was much messiness about it. Not only
did I have the previous inhabitants
buried up on my hilltop, but I had
their junk in my dump, as well.
What a spectacular life!

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