Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lofty Ambitions

Our middle GK is the farmy one. At least for now, you know how those things change, but she has always loved the farm and all its critters and activities. She especially loves the hay loft and often begs us to take her up there. Usually Keith does it as it kinda their thing, but last weekend she wanted me too, so I did. On the way down to the barn I stopped to go through some old books Keith's mom had given us hoping if I sorted through one box a week for awhile I could dent the "mother" lode.

I am a major sucker for old books.

Allana spotted a book with a horse on the cover  (Black Beauty) and wanted to take it with us to the barn. After we looked around the loft for orphan chicks, she asked if we could stay longer. I had no board meetings scheduled that day (or ever again I hope for as long as I live) so I said yes. I sat next to her and started reading to her.

When it was time to go I got up, walked a few feet away from her, looked back and saw this.

My memory's eyes saw this:

My father painted this as as gift to his wife, my mother, for her 55th birthday. The date on the back of the picture was December 1985. My mother had told him about her "library" as a child. She would sneak up to HER grandparents hay loft in the hills of southern Indiana, to read all alone and undisturbed. My mother loved to read novels, and always had a book "going" somewhere in the house while we were growing up. Bookmarks were made of anything handy; paint chips, match book covers, grocery store receipts, parts of Sundays church bulletin, whatever. She in fact died with a book in her hand, a romance, but I have since forgiven her for that. (Both the genre and the early death.) She also had a cup of coffee and a burned out cigarette next to her on the couch as well when we found her. Always living (and dying) on the edge that mother of mine.

It was difficult to stop staring at Allana while she was reading. I was so grateful I had my camera with me. No, the photo was not staged BUT I am embarrassed to admit that this weekend I did try to recreate the scene again. I had the GK dress in jeans and a white shirt and we grabbed a red book instead of blue and a blanket for her backdrop. But the weather was cool and windy and GK was not in the mood and after a couple shots I quit, chastising myself for the inability to  accept gifts as they are given me instead of always seeking improvement.

At 52 you would think I would have learned the art of simple satisfaction. You would think.

 I dismantled our props and told the GK we could look for baby chicks as she wanted to do in the first place. Now that was a gift SHE was very satisfied with.


  1. I'll bet the hair stood up on the back of your neck.

  2. Spooky. I'm a hay barn person too. I think it's the smell and the coziness.

  3. Ok, I am not going to lie here--NO, my hair did not stand up. Instead, this really touched my heart. Something about CONTINUING these traditions, even if they subversively pop up from generation to generation, is amazing and,I think, is endearing.

    I think that's what I love about the farming saga, and why I do the crazy stuff I do (and I think you do, too)--because you get to see each generation continue this wonderful legacy. I am AMAZED how much your grand-daughter looks like your MOTHER in that picture. And here she doesn't even know what footsteps she is following! Good stuff!

  4. Thank you for sharing that Donna. There are no coincidences xxx

  5. Charming post! I love the photo and painting of the girl reading on the haystack!

  6. Another good life starting down the road. Or, nose in the book. Enjoy the thrill.

  7. Donna, as for "staged" photos, I absolutely think that generational staged photos are priceless, especially when you can see the resemblance coming through. Your story is beautiful. Losing a mother impressed such details upon you like nothing else. My own mother died while she was in the middle of reading a few books and I finished all of them for her. Each one starts off with her underlining important things to her with her little side notes in pencil and then no more marks. When I would hit that point in the book where her mental notes stopped, I cried and cried, but I continued onward and read to the finish, kind of creeped out while hoping that I would be the one to make it to the end of the book.

    I love the have such special moments to always cherish.

  8. MBJ mostly it just made me miss my mommy

    Cro. Hay. Alone. Quiet. Me too

    Zan, Jen, Top, Thanks a million

    Karen, The original painting has been in my closet for years. too lazy to get it pro-framed. Now I will. Times a wastin'

    Joann, much of my weekend with my GK's is either spent outside with our animals or inside with a book. A good life indeed

  9. Lana, How very cool that you finished your mom's books !!! I often write in my books, now I know why!

  10. I didn"t know u had So. Ind roots. What part?

  11. I love this post...the pic of your grandkid and the painting by your father...wonderful! And I think your journal purchase was money well spent, but then if you look at my drawing blog, you'd see why. I look at it as an investment in creativity! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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