My mind wanders when I’m driving, especially while traveling along barely traveled roads where there’s little to no traffic, not many houses . . nothing much to see. Occasionally I will see an old farmhouse sitting under a clump of trees. Sometimes there will be a little garden spot off to one side, maybe a ramshackle old shed that might have once been a chicken coop, or a deteriorating doghouse . . I’m always reminded of my grandparents place.
When I was a kid, the house seemed like it sat so far back off the road. Now, even though the house is no longer there, and accounting for the fact that the road is wider, the spot where the house sat doesn’t seem nearly so far back as it did when I was a kid. Everything is different through the eyes of a child.
The road in front of my grandparents’ home that once was dirt is now paved, and what was not much more than a trail, not even wide enough for two cars to easily pass, is now a heavily traveled blacktopped highway. Some would call it progress and moving forward.
As I’m driving, wherever I am, I know that every old home, whether well maintained and obviously still in use, to the deteriorated abandoned homes . . all homes tell a story. Since I don’t know their individual stories, and since there’s often lots of miles between houses, my mind makes up stories . . sometimes really detailed stories! It’s cheap entertainment along otherwise boring stretches of the highway.
Newlyweds once moved into the little home, then they had children who played ball in the yard, complained about having to help with the garden, chickens and pigs . . then they grew up and went off to college, got married, brought home grandbabies.
Life probably went from busy with small children, to hectic and chaotic with teens, to lonely when the kids were gone and later, one of the spouses passed on. Heck, after a dozen or so trips by the same houses over the past four years, I feel like I’m good friends with some of those made up people! 🙂
I was getting a hair cut the other day and was talking to my hair cut lady and we were talking about the old houses we pass and she told me that one time she and her dad were driving somewhere and she told him kinda the same story. She said . . if I look at those old houses, I can envision children playing in the yard, and the old lady working in her garden and canning beans. She said her dad looked at her and said “That’s weird!”
Yes, I know . . you’re probably thinking . . how strange that crazy Judy would find a crazy lady to cut her hair! 🙂
When I’m going to Missouri, there’s a little farmhouse off to the right and I often see an older couple sitting on the porch. I want to stop and talk to them! They have a few chickens in the yard and a little garden spot off to one side of the house. They remind me of my grandparents! I can just see them sitting on the porch shelling peas or snapping beans. I won’t stop .. probably . . because Vince said that’s not safe but the reason I won’t stop is because I have a very long trip ahead of me when I’m going and when I’m coming back, I’m tired and ready to get home. It’s ok if I never get to meet them . . I can just make up my own story about their entire life. 🙂
Once when I lived in Louisiana – probably at least 30 years ago, maybe 35 years ago, on my way to work, and on my way home every single day . . I passed a house along the highway and it had the most gorgeous garden, well manicured . . not a weed in sight. The old man was always out in the garden working. I remember the cabbage . . I think the cabbage is what was the final straw. One day I pulled in and talked to him for the longest time. I told him how much I admired his garden . . for so many years. He gave me a couple of big old cabbages. Mr. Morgan has long been gone. The house has been torn down and it’s now some kind of commercial property. I’m glad I stopped and talked to him.
Memories . . they almost always bring a smile to my face and at some point, a tear to my eye. It’s a shame that we can’t somehow copy all the knowledge of old folks, store it on a CD and have it forever. My grandparents knew more about gardening, farm life, homesteading . . just living . . than I will ever know and I know many of those old folks who live in those old houses with the gardens and chickens . . I could learn a lot from them.