My tongue is in my hand…

Tracks in the snow

Posted on: March 7, 2009

I went to the farm Tuesday, the day after it snowed. I forgot it was still there. I pass that road every day and act like because we don’t live there, because we don’t own it, it no longer exists.

But it does. It’s not a person who’s died. It’s an ex. Who got married. And had kids. And lives in the same town. And goes to the same grocery store.

I parked my car at the top of the road, where Uncle Allen used to park his 18 wheelers. Across from the place where my grandparent’s house used to be. Facing the gravel road that forks, one road goes by the barn, to my house. The other, to the left, takes you past the fields, the place the sawmill used to be, the unfinished grits mill, to Steve and Allen’s houses.

I stood looking at it, it was always so beautiful in the snow. So out of this world. And so fun. Pulling 3 or 4 sleds behind trucks and 4 wheelers, going down that hill that lands you in the creek…we would spend all day out there…

A car passed by and I just waved. Blonde girls in SUV’s do not typically make people feel threatened. I started sobbing thinking how I was trespassing. On my land. Because it wasn’t mine.

I saw something move at the barn after a loud sob. It was a goat! (We left them because no one was going where they could take them). I had to see them. I walked to the barn, trying to not leave tracks in the snow by stepping on the places it already melted and the ground was showing through (though I doubt anyone would notice). I got to the entrance and it just took my breath.

The soft dirt. The sweet hay smell. The weathered wood. The rusted tools. That barn is over 100 years old. It’s red with silver patches of tin on the roof. I remember we used to come up here and feed the goats sweet feed and hay, hauled water up there in that black bucket…

I reached around the stall door and let myself in. I tried coaxing Peanut over. Peanut and Mary Frances are the only ones left. They grew up in the cow pasture and didn’t get the face time the older goats got when they stayed at the barn and I would feed them and visit. The cow pasture was large, it went into the woods. You could never see them if they didn’t want you to.

I hid behind the door as another car went by. Peanut finally came up, licked my hand. I had to Baaa a few times first. It’s funny, but it works! It always has!

Our goats are big. They aren’t those tiny little things some people have.

I thought of my Paw Paw (he’s laid to rest in the church graveyard across the street, with Maw Maw and the rest of the family that’s not up and running anymore). I thought of Daddy and his brothers and how much it hurts me to lose the farm so I can’t imagine how it hurts them.

I stepped out of the barn and looked into the woods, the path you could take to get to my house if you didn’t want to take the gravel road. It was still snow covered, the trees draped in it, the rest of it quiet on the ground. Still and pristine. We always held the snow with us for days after it had lifted from or puddled up in other places. I wanted to run into that forest and lose hours the way I used to…

But I took a deep breath, I turned around, I ran back to the car, jumping over snow, still trying to minimize the tracks. Why? Haven’t they been washed away already, won’t it all melt into the ground soon enough, before anyone can do anything about it? I looked at my mailbox. It seems wrong that someone else should have our addresses, our road with our name on it.

I cried a lot that day. The thing about loss, about grief, is that it carves out places in you. No matter what else happens, what else you have, what else comes along. Things cover it and soften it and fall into it, but sometimes what feels best is someone tracing over the crevices and acknowledging the design.

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3 Responses to "Tracks in the snow"

I am sorry for your feeling of loss. I know the feeling. May you find happiness soon. Peace.

Whoooooah. Oh wow. Becca I was just THERE. I started reading but before the end of it I was standing in SNOW and my feet were cold and the barn smelled and the goats were warm and furry and I was there!

… My god you’re good. This is so sad. Ach… makes me ache. last paragraph is phenomenal. Made me want to weep. Becca have you ever considered fiction? Because you have a HIGHLY puclishable style and absolutely immersive language. I haven’t been this engaged by a piece of writing since John Updike.

Consider it. Please.

And go back and visit that barn as often as you want. Bugger all who think you’re trespassing.

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