06 January, 2011

Twelfth Night - Feast of the Epiphany.

Who Say's You Can't Go Home?

I spent some futile time today, attempting to scan and post pictures from holidays past in the old farmhous we siblings call, "The Homestead." It didn't happen...

The scan and post.

Perhaps that is best. The Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth images that well up in a cold fountain from those years are as clear and comforting. And yes, some of the aftertaste is as distant, ugly and downright painful as yesterday's back cracker work.

In my body, I know Kronos, that old Saturnalian butcher pounds away at me. I know him as well as I know my own artisan and writer's hands and crippled back. They are both the scars brought on by years of toil and making do. My own stubborn Irish/Swedish streak, and the fear that what I created was not quite good enough in God's eyes has haunted my footsteps.

I have no pictures.....YET! I have words.

Allow me to tell the tale from Spring to Summer, Summer to Autumn to Winter's chill.

This is the recollection of living in the old farmhouse with the remnant of the apple orchard off to the east. This is the old house on the crest of the northern rise, where our bedroom window opened on to the sunrise, where brother John and I would wake in the silky May mornings to seriously sexy, explosive mounds of apple blossoms. That fragrance has yet to be matched.

This is what I remember:

- I recall sweating and raking the first drop from the apples. Might have been not enough water or no germination. Still, we mowed and raked. At the same time, we planted the Summer garden. Tomato plants, squash, peppers and herbs snuggled into the soil. Cherries from the lone tree ripened. Wild raspberry ripened on the briars. Then there were heirloom roses blooming. Long canes, heavy with butter yellow, five petaled blossoms, redolent with a gentle citrus fragrance.

If the year was wet, we would gather young asparagus in the ditch... enough for a meal or two.

- The second cull, large enough to fit as missiles in our young and hungry hands, ready for war. We began the siege of tree to tree, building forts of childhood sight. Grab a rake as a facemask! Run grab a shovel as a shield! Arthur and his knights will rise up behind us as the sour and sugar nectar of exploding young apples splattered our faces. Up in the towering elm next to the well house, we built a platform. It grew high and hither over the years. We watched summer sunrise and sunset there, and talked of bikes and Mickey Mouse and later, girls, their budding breasts and smiles.

- Come full summer where the fall of crabapple and second cull fell and fermented. While corn ripened and tomatoes blushed, robins and squirrels ate the fragrant and potent sour mash. Stumbling red breast birds, like the Wright brothers, attempted to fly. Rodents with attitude and numb butts, chased their newest lover up and down in an erratic Archemidian twist, stopping to scold and chatter.

- Apples full and apples sweet, apples come to harvest while the full corn rises. It was then that we siblings and cousins gathered all ripe on trees and the fresh fall on the ground. Applesauce and applebutter, cider and pie followed the garden harvest into mason jars, settled in the cool, damp cellars. Summer saved to rise again come the depth of Winter's chill. We, no longer children, no longer young, lanky legged and clear eyed, turned away from the old times, turned from the wonder of family.

We walked alone.

- Came Epiphany - When or where God's Spirit reminds the rebellious and bellicose, lost and lonely, empty and forlorn beings that we became... that our parents just might have been OK. They might have been and done the best they could; teaching and guiding as God called them. Winter and the cold knowledge that we can no longer pick up a phone and call, and say "I love you Mum, thanks for being here." The same for fathers, and their strong, long hours at work, or their weekends guiding us in building, digging, gardening. Or just plopped down watching football or baseball, a cold PBR in hand while stinky cheese and tins of smoked herring and oysters wait to be nibbled on rye crackers in a den redolent with the subtle fragrance of cigars and pipes, Old Spice and man's sweat, clean and honest.

Epiphany -- God is shown forth and made manifest. He did it then, He does it now, and He will continue to do it until I, or you, are released from these earthly shells and return to Him.

Yes, let us realize in this Epiphany season....We can go home again.

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