Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sophie's Seeds

Sophie moved her large bulk slow. Even so, the homestead work was accomplished with thoroughness. In between relentless chores, she planted flowers along the rock wall which she had hauled and stacked one stone at a time. Stones were plentiful and unwanted in the fields.  She reframed them.

She is famous in the family for this: Doctor suggested she only have one piece of toast in the morning, instead of two. A keen mind in an aged body outsmarted him. With gumption, she told the family she would follow orders, but she would be sure to cut it thick. She pronounced it tick. 

When we go back to the prairie, poking about the old places jog memories. Asking a question about some unfamiliar object becomes a story starter.

This tin can sieve with lid is for holding minnows. It was dropped in water to keep the fishing bait alive.

When I was younger, I lusted for the object left along the prairie trail. Now, I hunger only for the stories to pair with the digital proof. Often, the story is as wispy and fragile as the rotting curtains.

The ungainly rug loom held a place of honor in the small living room. Sitting by the hot stove under dim light, they toiled all winter turning straw into gold or rags into rugs. 

The rusty story starts to loosen as you turn the handle. Flimsy questions echo up the stairs. 

Her carpet was printed on linoleum. A good faux, easy to clean. The flowers are still bright.

Her bottom knew the frozen wooden seat of the outhouse ~ intimately. Paul would dig a tunnel from the house in winter. His aim was good as the tunnel always ended at the door of the outhouse. It was a two seater. There's a delicate question I have never asked about!  

This old jar of hollyhock seeds whispered how a homemaker, in spite of lean times and a hard life, knew how to save color for her soul from one season to another. I'm learning what she knew. It was and still is, an essential. 

No matter how severe the drought, or how meager the crop ~ one common saying frequently heard among those homesteaders after harvest was, "Oh well, maybe next year." A shrug of the shoulders flipped the burden of failure away while their hands found the next needful thing to do. They couldn't waste any energy for they needed to survive winter's sour winds. 

Each spring, they picked up the handle of that dream one more time, and with calloused hands dug a place to plant seeds. 


Craig said...

Thanks for more pics and writings! I remember as a young lad watching the rugs being made by their fire. Never had time to figure it out, as there was to much to explore in the woods outdoors!

Maureen said...

Your writing is compelling, Kathleen. You're capturing these stories so well. Your photo of the stairwell is wonderful.

Melisa said...

So beautiful! I LOVE that photography, too! Some of my favorite subjects, favorite angles, favorite textures!

Sandra Heska King said...

They told us not to go into the old house. Now I want to. More than ever.

ELK said...

captured me in wonder and the photos such a story!

S. Etole said...

you tell the story well both in image and word ... I've always wondered at the things left abandoned ... the why of it

Anonymous said...

amazing how much can be glimpsed still of the oregon trail, and other westward trails and homesteads, when going through the prairie grass states.

Kathleen Overby said...

It is intriguing, for sure. As we get older we want the story. :) Thanks for the comment love.

Joyceann Wycoff said...

Kathleen ... what a mood you captured with image and story. Simply beautiful

Ann Kroeker said...

Love the jar of seeds--she craved beauty and color in the midst of labor, disappointments and hard work.