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Monday, July 25, 2016
Growing up CountryPosted Sunday, April 25, 2010, at 4:04 PM
The water hole at the low point of my gravel lane is full, after several days of hard rain. The dogs love this spot on our half-mile walk.
Maybe that came yesterday, after the tornado threat was over and the torrent of rain had stopped. For a few minutes, I left my troubles and my wet basement behind and walked down the hill, across the pond levee, around the gravel road, past the old combines and the pear trees, up the hill and down toward the county road.
My red hound Chigger jumped a rabbit over in the neighbor's field and it cut across the lane in front of me - right across my fat border collie's path. All three dogs were off on the chase, while I followed the lane as far as the dog's favorite water hole, full from several inches of new rain and inhabited by two leopard frogs, croaking happily. Everything looked freshly-washed and vivid green.
I called my sister from the water hole, and she reminded me of how much fun my children had had growing up on this farm. The kids would say, "Let's look in the mud puddle where Dad parks the truck. It's always good for at least one frog!"
The three kids rambled every inch of this farm, from the time each of them was old enough, playing in the dirt where my deck is now, building a "fort" at the edge of the field and hiding under a piece of plywood when Bruce the rooster attacked them (I can't believe I haven't blogged that story!), playing with frogs and voles and anything else they could find.
They took their friends to "Pebble City," a rocky gully up the hill behind the house, where I never cared to go. They would bring me back beautiful sandstone formations for my flower gardens.
In the opposite direction, they would run down the hill to another gully and dig up cow bones, white with age, and drag them back up to the front yard, where I would give them a metal washtub, bleach, and brushes. Happy the child whose mother gave him permission to bring these exotic treasures back to town for her own flower garden!
The big old barn played an important part of their ramblings, though they had strict orders from their dad not to go upstairs in the rickety portion. The barn was usually filled with bales of hay, cool even in the hot summer. We could always catch a breeze in the breezeway.
One long ago time, my oldest son Todd (now 36) found a baby pigeon in a nest on top of the tack room.
"Mom, what's THIS?" he asked in horror.
I had never seen a squab, and I was shocked at how incredibly ugly the baby was. We left it in the nest for its mother to raise. If she could love such an ugly child, she certainly deserved to be left alone.
A major portion of their day involved the pond, of course. There were frogs and fish to catch, mud to play in. They had more strict orders not to swim there, as their dad didn't know what was on bottom.
Down the hill beyond the barn was another, much smaller pond which the cattle had access to. The sides were mostly broken down and the pond had gray clay mud in the bottom.
I know this, because Matthew, his friend Davie Joe, and my daughter Kristin went down there early one morning during Semo Fair week. The boys must have been about eight and Kristin was probably about five. They came back coated in that gray mud. Kristin even had it in the part of her braided hair. It seems that Davie Joe had tried to carry her across, piggy-back, but he had slipped and fallen!
Those days are long gone, and the farm is a peaceful place now, where the bones of the dead stay buried, and the only sound is the singing of birds and the occasional unexplained strange sound, as recorded in "A Tillman Mystery." (see blog archives)
From the lush, green hills of Tillman, this is your rural reporter Madeline, praising God for a beautiful golden morning!
P.S. Be sure to check Paul Corbin's new blog on the NSC site! I just posted it for him!!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.