Friday, June 01, 2018

Five Minute Friday: RETURN - my last trip to the farm


Almost a year ago today, I returned to our family farm for the last time.



We would be putting it up for sale a few weeks afterward, and I was only in PEI for a week -- so this was my final time to go back and walk through the empty house. My aunt (Mom's sister) came with me; she had not grown up in the house but had been in it thousands of times, and it was in a way another home to her, too. She wanted to dig up a few perennials to have something lasting from the old place.

The spare house key was still hanging inside the back door of what we called the "tractor building" -- the same place it had hung for at least 40 years. I unlocked the door to the house and we wandered through. It was cool and felt both damp and dusty. Some rooms were now unrecognizable, the previous residents having made some renovations -- but others looked almost exactly as they had been when our family lived there. 

I confess that I felt less sadness than I had expected to. Perhaps it was because when the people who made that house home were no longer there, I sensed that the walls and floors and roof were just containers for our lives. I realize not everyone feels that way: for some, the piece of earth and the buildings themselves retain significance of their own beyond that of the people who abided on and in them. But for me, it was not home anymore, and I was almost relieved to go outside again and lock the door behind me.

The yard looked much more like I remembered it than the house did -- except that Dad would never have let it get so overgrown with grass and dandelions.



There used to be a little blue picnic table under that tree; when we would visit in the summertime, Jonathan would sit there and do a jigsaw puzzle or have a snack. There had also been a hammock, where Allison might be found reading. Both were now gone.
  
I wonder now, how many Sunday afternoons did we spend sitting under that chestnut tree, commenting on  the (few) cars passing on the road, perhaps waiting for company to arrive.



Many people said that our house, with its white shingles and (formerly) green trim, reminded them of the house in Anne of Green Gables



This last picture contains so much: the bare earth near the house where cars would turn around; the old hay wagon in the long grass, its side racks removed; the little stretch of wooden fencing; the blue strip of Northumberland Strait to the south. It was the most beautiful view. At nighttime we could see lights twinkling across the strait in Nova Scotia. 

I'm glad I have these few pictures of the last time I returned home. When I drove away that day, I carried a million memories with me, too -- both sweet and sad. 


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This is a Five Minute Friday post - the prompt was RETURN.


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photos by Jeannie Prinsen - June 3, 2017

25 comments:

  1. Greetings from PEI. I understand the feeling Jeannie. Good read.

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  2. This was so poignant and sweet! I loved hearing your thoughts about how the farm still felt like home and also not quite. We all have places like that -- places we'd love to go back to but also know we have now moved on from. Thanks for sharing. Your FMF neighbor #32

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Bethany. Great to connect with you through FMF.

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  3. Beautiful photos and memories! I like your description of places as being like "containers for our lives." There is something special about returning to places that have been important to us but, as you say, it's the people who are really important.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley. It was a good, if sad, experience writing about this. So many memories.

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  4. Beautifully written! I felt like I was there with you!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Tammy. I really appreciate that you took the time to read and comment.

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  5. Boy, I miss going there... but miss the folks even more. We are finally back on the Island and looking forward to getting to see your Dad in the coming days. Not on his favourite spot on the couch by the window but the same spirit, same heart. Love to you all

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    1. Glad to hear you and Chad are back on the Island, Nancy. I bet it missed you, and you it. I hope we'll see you in August when we come.

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  6. This is so touching, Jeannie. Thank you for sharing this poignant experience.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading, Andrew and Barb. Many blessings on you today.

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  7. Containers for our lives is an evocative characterization, Jeannie. Our very bodies might be called the same.

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    1. That's so interesting, Tim. It makes me think of incarnation, which is such a great mystery.

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  8. Visiting from FMF. I sense the feeling ... it's the old homestead but it is no longer home! I'm from the Paterson, NJ, area and always felt it was home ... until the last time I visited. I was more of a tourist than a native. Great memories ... but life moves on with or without us.

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    1. I know what you mean: "more a tourist than a native." Yes. And life does move on. Seems sometimes that change is the only constant.

      Thanks for visiting today - great to have you!

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  9. What a lovely memory; I felt I could have been standing with you. That photo with the grass and dandelions and the last one I find especially appealing and poignant. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorites ever. I didn't know you were from PEI!

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    1. Hi Prasanta - yes, I was born there and lived there until I was 22; then I moved to Kingston, Ontario to go to grad school, married a man from Kingston, and stayed there (here). But going "home" was always lovely. My mom died in 2014 and my dad moved to an apartment so everything changed ... as so many things do. Thanks for stopping by to read!

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    2. Yes, things to change. My parents are both still living - but I am preparing myself for this scenario... Blessings to you!

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  10. I'm glad you got to go back. Something holy about closure in our lives.

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    1. Thanks, Tara. It was important to have that brief visit. I'm grateful for it.

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  11. I could feel your emotions through your story. Grief can become a bundle of sorrow, joy, and thankfulness. A house is so much more than a building. It's a sacred space that speaks to the most significant spaces in life. We went through something similar a few years ago. My husband's grandmother died and her home was sold and later demolished. It was (and still is) painful to realize that part of our life has died. We have to find new spaces for refuge and connection. Glad you could have closure.

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie. "New spaces for refuge and connection": that's it exactly. Now when we go back to PEI we see my dad and other relatives and that's so important -- but The Place is no longer there and it leaves a huge gap.

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  12. I had no idea you grew up on PEI! That's on my bucket list of places to visit! What a charming house and farm you grew up on. I had some of the same feelings about my great-aunt's homestead in Washington--it was a beautiful, hand-crafted farm from the early 20s. Her son turned it into a campground (parts of it), but much of the old charm remains.

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    1. I'll bet it's beautiful, Anita. I hope you do make it to PEI someday; it is truly a beautiful place.

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