I became one of those people who preferred the outdoors and animals to anything city related.
I can't even recall where my father took this shot. I was 4 years old and someone in our family must have gotten some ducks or geese.
I discovered farm animals.
Lost in archives are photos of me and then years later, photos of my own children feeding calves at my Uncle Fred's dairy farm.
Going to the dairy farm and staying with the 'girl' cousins was one adventure after another.
I thought they had it the coolest. They had no indoor plumbing. They had a real honest to goodness outhouse and other small outbuildings that were a delight to play in.
What did I have? A small house with all the nice things like plumbing, running hot water,...and a tiny yard.
I envied them, they had woods to play in, a barn to play in.
I'm sure that I didn't know what life was really like on a small dairy farm, but I was to get an inkling of that much later in life when I actually worked for a while on one.
And...they had Santa Claus visit their house on Christmas Eve. [I didn't know at the time that Uncle Fred played Santa.] I mean, as a kid I was so envious of their life.
Of course I never had to use a chamber pot or use the outhouse in the dead of winter. I never had to help with chores in any real sense. My Aunt and Uncle would allow us to be in the barn and I recalled the wonderful smells of the silage and hay. The satisfied munching of the dairy cows and the milking machines.
I learned to use a milking machine much later in life, I helped on a dairy and would get the cows in, lock them in their stanchions and get everything ready for the morning milking. I learned to wash the bulk tank and other helpful chores.
Washing teats, dipping teats, scrapping the floor and liming the floor, cleaning the barn.... I think I enjoyed that because it reminded me of being in my cousin's dairy barn.
To me, my cousins had endless fields of corn to play in and an incredible pasture and woods.
We girls would concoct an adventure for our summer days together. We'd play 'house' or go wandering the cow pasture. We built forts one time after a huge wind/rain storm. We had a downed tree that we decided was going to be our fort. I think we spent more time scrambling and climbing it that we did building anything.
There was a place where we would hunt rocks. And always, we'd talk and chatter.
With a little bit of imagination we could be anyone and do anything. Our days were endless.
Well it seemed that way.
Last weekend I got to go back. We drove past my Uncle and Aunt's farm to get to my youngest cousin's Sugar Bush and see her and her husband's set up.
I wanted to pull in to their driveway and walk around seeking more fond memories and see what had changed.
Instead I got a tour of the Sugar Bush.
This was another new experience for me. My country families made maple syrup and have I think for three generations.
At the end of summer I'd go back to the city. I'd marvel at the fact that we had hot water and flush toilets. And then I'd settle in for the school year and await June.
That is when I could go back to where I was sure I belonged.
I never could convince my mom to give me to one of my Aunts.
Now that I've been back for a short weekend, I yearn to return and visit again.
When I turned the Subaru towards home I promised myself that I would return.
After all, the 4 quarts of Maple Syrup I'd purchased would be long gone before summer was over.
And I wasn't going to let years and years pass before we all saw each other again.