There is a plot of land, 40 acres to be exact, that sits nestled between three other plots, who’s acreage I do not know, in the middle of my state. This is where I grew up. This is where most of my memories are, both good and bad. This is where I began to love nature. This is where I used to feel God the most.
I’ve visited this bit of land from time to time as I’ve aged. My family moved away long ago, but the land remains. And I do mean just the land, and a shed, because several years ago, the barn and trees were leveled by a man, whom I do not know, but was allowed to do so by my grandmother. She says she didn’t realize what he was going to do. It upset everyone who had a vested interest in the land, all but the man of course.
One of my most favorite memories took place on this piece of earth. I was about thirteen or fourteen. My parents where getting or fixing to get a divorce. I remember saddling my horse up, taking the time to brush her before I put the blanket on. Hoisting the saddle up, buckling the cinch, making sure to give her a quick, but soft knee to the stomach to get her to release her breath. She used bloat her stomach when she was saddled. Half way through your ride you would realize that you were turning sideways. It was cool outside and it was an hour or so from sunset. I hoisted my self up on her and talked gently to her as I situated myself. I then headed to the pasture just me, my horse and my thoughts. I remember thinking about the divorce, how my life was going to be changing drastically very soon. I rode to the top of a hill the sun to my back and looking down that hill to my house and then to the surrounding fields, I felt certain that there was a God and he created all this beauty for me, for us to enjoy. I can still hear the wind blowing, my horse breathing and the creak of the saddle as my horse shifted her weight. The way her mane blew in the wind and what her golden red ears looked likes from atop her back as they moved listening just as I was.
When I see horses especially one that resembles her, I always think of this memory. Not too long after, the divorce moved forward, my dad moved out, we had to sell our horses, my mom remarried, had a baby and we moved to town.
However, that was not the end of the land. It has sat empty with no house for at least 17 years now. We lived in a trailer, as do many people in our area who live that far out of town. Before we moved there it was the homestead of my grandmother, grandfather, mom and uncle. That family, my family as well, was broken up by a divorce resulting in a move and then the house eventually burned down while being rented.
You see that plot of land has meaning to each and every one of my family members. That plot of land has seen a lot of family history as well as plenty of history before the years that my family lived on it.
This past weekend I took my family to the land, which we call the farm. As we walked in the dry creek bed a flood of memories were triggered by the smell and the sound of the leaves and pecans beneath our feet. An old rope hanging from a tree, a reminder of many fun hours, an old tree house that has now fallen, but used to house me and my siblings along with our imaginations.
As we walked my sons asked questions as I held back tears. Tears for what used to be and tears for what is now. The boys in a dry creek bed following their daddy with the mom trailing behind. They wanted to know why I used to live there? Where is the house? How come pretty much everyone they know used to live there? I answered as best I could, but four year olds don’t really understand what divorce is and what it does to a family.
Years ago when I was young playing in a dry creek bed with my brother and sister, I was not thinking about someday bringing my own kids to that very place. In that moment I was and am thankful for the here and now. To be able to make new memories on that piece of land with my kids and husband. New memories that include the same hill, the same creek, the same land, but a different time. As I looked up the hill this time, as the sun was setting, I am still amazed by the beauty. The same beauty my younger self saw in God, I now see as nature, and science, and evolution. I evolved from my former self as the land evolved from its former self. A piece of land, 40 acres to be exact, that housed families and dreams.