Memories and Changes

I was reading a favorite blog, this evening, when I was reminded of autumn while in high school. back in the early '80's we lived near a small town in rural south western Ohio. About 40 miles upriver from Cincinnati and about 10 miles north of the river. It was a good place to grow up. I have often times, since, lamented it was a good place to be from.

We lived on roughly an acre in a ranch style house with a full basement. The large two + car garage sat atop the cistern. Rain water was collected from the roof. With no city sewage or water, summers could be a bit of a challenge.

I recall how, of an autumn, we would take the trailer over to a neighbors just so my dad and the neighbor could watch my brother and I muck out the sheep barn. All that 'sheep dit' would go into the compost pile. I would spend weekends of the entire month of September turning and mixing those trailer loads into that huge compost pile. Once I was 'big enough' my father had me using the troy built tiller to help mix the dit into the compost. In Mid-October the last of the harvest of our 1/4 acre garden would be collected. Heavy black plastic was run out to cover the garden area for winter, after tilling everything under. An additional 'strip' was tilled across the uphill edge of the garden so that water rolling from the yard would be caught and let to slowly seep under the black plastic. Snow rarely stayed on that plastic.

Come the first warm (45 degrees F) weekend day in Late February or early March, we would be out there with the pitchforks and wheel barrows to spread that compost pile onto the garden. Then we would water it down. Just a gentle watering to wet that rotten mix of steaming growth goodness. And again we would cover with that same black plastic. The next warm weekend, I was out there with the tiller mixing all of that into the ground. As I tilled, my siblings were spreading more compost behind me. In one day I would make four or five passes across the whole garden.

It is odd, how I hated those days, but now I long for them. I wish for the smells of the kitchen as my mom would be canning. My hands ache now, like they used to from stringing beans or winter peas or shucking corn.

Once particular weekend in October stands out. The weekend before we had finished everything except for the late squash patch. I remember Dad had planted a squash we had not had before. Kushaw, he called it. A hybrid mix between yellow crook necked squash and pumpkins. We brought one in, cleaned in out, saved the seeds for roasting and dried some for next season. While I was turining the crank and making home made vanilla ice cream, Dad was frying up some of that kushaw with butter (real butter) and brown sugar with a bit of cinnamon. It made a wonderful smell. He fried it up till it was stringy and gooey and served it hot over that ice cream. Damn, it was good. It was a good dessert to have after our dinner of spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce. I guess we could have been no-carb/lo-carb before it was popular.

There are a lot of things I miss from back then. The lack of bills, like rent and insurance. The simpler living and the hard work. But I also like the things I have now. I have a good job in computers. I have earned the respect of peers in my chosen job field. I have accomplished a lot in the 20 years since I left that ranch house. and I long to go back to it.

I wonder if I can find a good job in Cincy?


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