Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Field Road

Between when I was about 7 years old and when I was 18 years old we lived on a 120 acre, somewhat 'hardscrabble' farm.  My parents worked hard to raise profitable crops while my dad also worked full time at a job in town.  I honestly don't know if they ever made any money on that farm but whether they did or not, it was still a good investment of their time and effort because they provided their four children with what I consider the ideal place to grow up.

One of my fondest and at the same time most intimidating memories of that farm was the field road.  It stretched from the house to a creek at the very back of the farm.  With one field on each side it meandered for quite a distance.  And during the day it was a pleasant stroll when there was nothing else to do.  I can still remember asking my sister if she wanted to walk down the field road and off we'd go - talking, usually barefoot, with the sun shining overhead, and probably a dog or cat trailing behind at least part of the way.  That field road heard more secrets and thoughts and laughter than you'd ever believe.

It was up that field road that my brother and I raced after seeing two guys in coveralls that looked a lot like prisoner garb (we lived in the middle of three prison farm properties) crossing the fields and climbing over fences and heading straight in our direction.  We'd ridden double on a bike that day to get out there and we started riding double on the way back but it was too slow.  I got off and ran which was much faster.  Fortunately we got back before those evil pipeline post painters could catch up to us.

It was the field road that my brother used to access the animal traps he set one winter and it was up that road that he returned, white-faced and shaken by the enormous set of tracks he'd seen in the snow near one of his traps.  Later we found out that there was a rogue mountain lion in the area.

It was down that field road that a line of cars stretched late one night after a UFO sighting in the nearby town sent police cars, reporters, and sightseers scurrying to our woods where they found.....nothing.

It was down that field road that my dad, in the middle of his workday, went tearing one day to where my mother was plowing in a back field.  We thought he'd gotten fired and as it turned out, that would have been better because he'd gotten a call at work telling him that my grandmother had passed away unexpectedly (we didn't have a phone).  It was a sad and shocking time for our entire family.

It was down that field road that my sister and I strolled and stopped to rest on a pile of corncobs.  We didn't know there was an anthill in there and I'm sure I don't have to share what ensued but it wasn't fun or funny at the time.

And as I grew older, it was down that field road that I would venture alone at eight or nine o'clock on some very, very dark nights to find out if I should start something for supper.  When the weather was right, the fields demanded every moment of time our parents had no matter how late we ate or how tired they were.  And it was back up that field road that I would try to imagine anything but the scary thoughts that assaulted my mind on those cold, dark nights. 

It was  up and down the field road that our mother traveled on one of the old Farmall tractors.  That was back in the day when mothers were almost all stay-at-home moms but our mom ran a farm while maintaining her household and raising her kids.  She only asked a little help like do the breakfast dishes.  Sometimes we could barely get those dirty dishes stowed in the oven in time once we heard her tractor coming up the field road.

Overall, almost all my memories of the field road were good ones.  And in my heart of hearts I think it would be a better world if all young people had a field road.


  1. I love pictures all of these scenarios of your childhood...well except for maybe the one of you walking all by yourself when it's dark....yikes! I think about some of the stories you've told us about that road every once in a while, and I'm pretty sure there's a story you've never told us about it...right??? And I agree, we all should have a field road like that. p.s. LOVE this post!!!

  2. What a wonderful picture you painted with your words.

  3. Your writing is fabulous. What memories!! I was surprised you didn't mention when we walked down there, but I was unable to walk back. Thanks for all the fantastic was exactly as you describe!


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