Regular readers will remember the celebration of my late Uncle Sam’s life.
On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of his passing I took the weekend to go and visit my cousins, who are more like a brother and four sisters to me.
In the intervening year the farm has changed hands and now belongs to a non-resident who plans to use it for hunting. The middle of Mississippi is blessed with large herds of wild deer, and thus attracts hunters from a multi-state area.
This was my first trip back to the farm since Uncle Sam’s passing. With no one around I was able to just visit at my leisure and let the memories flow. My aunt and uncle’s house and my grandparents’ house were locked, but the grounds were accessible and I was free to wander around.
Everything looked just the same upon my arrival, and Uncle Sam could have greeted me at the door, if I hadn’t known better. There was the handicapped-person ramp my cousin Fred built, the handrail I put on the front steps when my Aunt Polly was still alive, and the old TV antenna I’d moved from my grandparents’ house years ago.
Around back, the steps I’d made of cypress were still there. Uncle Sam complained because I made them so wide, but the boards were already that length, and the cutoffs would have been too short to be useful. So, I told my uncle, “I made them that way so you would have plenty of room to put on your boots.”
“Well, alright,” was his gruff reply. Many, many times thereafter I saw him enjoy the space as he laced up his footwear.
Turning around I could see the old “smokehouse.” As a child, I was always perplexed about why we called it a smokehouse. We never smoked anything in there. In fact, as an adult I’m still not sure, but it was in the position one would normally place a smokehouse.
On your right was where the washing machine, dryer and deep freeze resided. It was always dark in there and I lived in fear that a snake would get me if I lingered.
On your left is the door to the world prize. There were tools, chain saws (including Mr. Homelite’s original working model, I think) and shears for cutting shaggy hair from new horses’ manes. There were buckets and buckets of old screws and nails, every one of which required straightening before use. I often heard Uncle Sam say, “I ain’t for wastin’, James.”
I just thought the other side of the smokehouse was scary. At least it had a light! This side was dark and the shelves were deep. The reptilian hiding places were many. Still, it was worth it to come in and plunder, because the prizes were so great.
Ahh, the barn,
a subject for another day, as its memories are too manifold for this already-full space.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.