Friday, January 7, 2011

Home Places

The Front Porch View

The Home Place.
It's a phrase I've heard used in lots of different ways, but around here it's usually the place where your people started in this country.

They're rarely fancy. But I like to think of them as rich in ways that others can't imagine.

In 1880 the Government declared the Frontier closed. But on April 19th, 1882 the Cheyenne-Arapaho Opening began at 12 noon.  There are all sorts of tidbits about how cattlemen put out a lot of propaganda convincing people that the soil wouldn't grow anything but rattlesnakes, and rumors of a Cheyenne uprising that ran off several families. It's an interesting piece of history. Often sad and frustrating, like a lot of U.S. history. Like ALL history, I suppose.

My Home Place is in Washita County, Oklahoma and it was secured during that land run. I haven't uncovered yet who the runners were, but I hope to know soon. It was an exciting time in history for many folks who were strong enough to head West with nothing to make their start. I know that my grandpa was born out there. That he and his twin brother argued like the dickens and made it into the local history books with the nicknames the schoolmaster gave them. I don't know why fighting like the Dutch and Irish is significant, but My Grandpa Dutch and my Uncle Irish wore those labels their whole lives.

I know that I spent wild, amazing summers there pretending to be a pioneer. I wore bonnets and old dresses and rode my horse up and down the hills saying things like, 

"It looks like a fair piece of land. Let's build our soddy here."   

"I hate this bonnet but I sure am glad it will protect my fair complexion, if only my last pair of gloves hadn't fallen to pieces."  

"I think it's scandalous that she's not wearing a corset!"
"I'm not plowing this field in one! Pa took sick. If we're gonna get the wheat in I have to make those oxen MOVE."

I'd chew a piece of grass, kick a rock, and say, "If it would just rain a bit..If the hail doesn't flatten the field....If we don't all die of the Influenza, and if the Indians don't kill us then we just might make it another year."

I was a strange and imaginative child who read a lot of Little House and any other historical fiction or biographies I could get my hands on.

These are the things I think of when I think of my Home Place.

Seeing pictures of your mother as a baby in a room you can still stand and laugh in. Knowing that you used to play on the original cast iron cookstove just outside the door. Jumping the large floor grate that covered the gas heat. Cooking stew "all by yourself" and eating it all summer long. The smell of lilac on the breeze and the fascination of the wallpaper in the closet.

Those are Home Place memories.

I remember the first time I saw a turtle in the flower bed by the garden gate. I miss the large trees that used to shade the house. There was a lovely yellow rose bush next to one on the west side that used to shield the squirrels when they came down to steal corn from the chickens.

I'm not sure that there is anything better than sliding between cool, clean sheets after a bath and feeling the soft night breeze wash across your face as you watch stars until you fall asleep.

I know that we all make our own Home Place. I know that my family will always have a Home, even if we don't have a house to put it in. 

But I have always  hoped that someday we could put our Home in the Home Place.

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