Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mabel moves to Rural America & my Life growing up on a Farm in Michigan

I admit it.. after living only 11 years on a farm in rural Michigan and having the best time of my life, I am forever facinated by rural life. I know its hard. I know it can be tiring but when I look at how many Americans ventured out on their own from town to country and sometimes back to town after they got older, I remember my time on the farm and know that something good happened to me when I was young.

My parents lived in Detroit and ROmeo, Michigan, met at a dance in downtown Detroit. I think my dad rescued my mom at a dance hall from a bad date and the rest is history. They married and moved to New Hudson with myself and brother Mike, one year younger than I, and dad continued to drive 40 miles into Berkeley to be a tool and die maker before being "found" by Chryslers to go work for them. While dad did this commute, mom stayed on the farm and 7 children were born there. At that time after commuting and weekend farming, mom and dad felt a good Catholic upbringing in the suburbs would benefit us and we moved leaving my old dog Cindy behind with the new owners. I can still see every detail of that house, the large wrap around porch and big front lawn. There were lily of the valley surrounding the porch and a swing from the large tree in front. The back of the house had lilac trees and in the side yard looking out the kitchen window were the fruit trees, cherry and apple. Mom canned everything, corn, green beans, tomatoes. We had chickens, pigs, cows and 5 acres of raspberries, which we didn't own but had free rein to eat until we would burst.
Right past the raspberry field was the woods and it was filled with mystery.
I remember a tornado once coming through the farm and also a field fire where the firemen came and put out the fire. Once a big bear came to the window of our home and left his muddy prints on the side of the house. We never washed them off. It was scary, my mom called the neighbor for help but I think the bear went away and never came back.
There was a quarry which was filled with water about a mile down the dirt road and my brothers went there but I couldn't swim so I don't remember going in. We had a few neighbors which had their own wild lives but we kept in our little world in the summer selling vegetables to the mail lady who often left candy in our box with the mail.
My favorite memory of all was getting a little sack lunch from mom and heading out with my brothers on an"adventure", where we would look for rocks or found objects in a dry creek near our home. This could take all day and there were no fears and nothing to worry about. Life was simple and quiet except for the sound of the barn animals and an occasional hawk.
We eventually got a horse named Jerry but he was so wild that although my friend and neighbor Maria had 2 palaminos she couldn't saddle him. He was an Indian horse and she put me on him one time and he rubbed me up against the chicken coop and scraped my leg. Although he was unrideable I still begged for weekend horseback riding and with no lessons would be dropped off at age 10 and ride easy going horses on a trail for $5 an hour. I loved horseback riding and would go on to try and take riding english in high school but it never worked. I only liked Western and would never change. I continued to ride until age 14 or 15 and then until my youngest took lessons in California did I ever ride again. I still love the idea of horse riding and farms and whenever I see an image like this one of Mabel Weir and her daughter Helen, I think of those days on the farm and how quickly time goes by.
I believe all the kids in my family who had a chance to live on the farm and that would be 7 of 11, all love the quiet outdoors as opposed to the city. I know I keep a special spot in my memory of that farm, long ago in Michigan. Believe it or not , its still stands.


Julie Magers Soulen said...

What a wonderful recounting of your childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! It brought some memories back for me too; rural living, horseback riding, apple trees. Thanks for stopping by my blog too!

Sandra said...

Beautifully written!!

david said...

Thank you for sharing this. Although I never did farm work, I also lived on a farm for seven years of my youth and still have fond memories. Mabel is a beauty and yet through it shows strength.

brunococo said...

I have some very fond memories of that farm as well. The horse was a source of frustration. I remember hours spent trying to lure him with bits of carrot or apple. He would grab the treats and run off from the fence that I was too scared to climb. I guess I was too much of a city girl. I got my first short hair cut while staying there and was afraid to go to home to my mother without my pony tail. But it was all worth it.
I often want to drive past and see if, indeed, the 'farm' is still there. I think I don't go because if it is gone will my memories go too? I can remember the way there in my dreams, but the landscape has changed. Freeways, Interstates and shopping malls have all interfered with the straight route we used to take. Some day soon, I'll make the trip and I'll take some photos to share.

Anonymous said...

Oh, do i love memoirs! takes me back to the surprise hearing of your brother (Patrick's??) on NPR several years ago! I used his essay in my third grade classroom that year to introduce writing life experiences to them.
I am experiencing the closest thing to farm life right now as I ever have in my life - and I wouldn't live differently again! I love working on the land - or in my case, on the lava... building compost, raising chickens and growing food.
Thank you for your story, Marianne. xxx Bryn

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I am a mother of 2 wonderful girls, grandmother of 4, don't worry you will see photos of them one day! I live in Sedona Arizona, a beautiful place, lots of sun and blue blue skies! I listen to politics and my favorite radio channel is Cinemix. I am the oldest of 11 , I love my kids, my parents and my siblings and my friends!!