If we can go on hyper speed thru many years of personal history – my folks are gone now but my passion for the old farm never wavered. I grew up there and intimately knew its hills and valleys. I knew where to find the sweetest berries that grew wild. Still to this day, when I smell a grape ripening on the vine – it takes me back to the old grape vines that once grew along the side of the farmhouse. The same grapes my city born mother learned to can as grape juice. The scent of summer was unforgettable. The sweet smell of freshly cut hay in the fields wafted thru the bedroom windows at night. The Sutter’s (our neighbor) cows bellowed each evening as they made their way to the barn, and I would fall asleep to the sound of a horse whinny or doves that called thru the night.
As they say, “time marches on”…and so did my brother and I. We both went to college and he settled in Indiana, while I stayed in the area. Just as we aged, so too did the farm. With each passing year, and as pieces of the old barn slowly crumbled, I would often envision the possibilities. I dreamed of fully restoring the old farmhouse and bringing new life to a barn that has stood witness to 145 years of Wisconsin’s rural life. I wondered what it had seen since 1870, and it seemed nearly a sacrilege not to restore this proud old building with its towering posts that were hand hewn from the early Wisconsin forests that no longer exist.
Still to this day, when I walk in the barn, the memories come flooding in. I remember my brother Scott and I daringly, swinging from the barn ropes that were attached to the enormous posts and beams. I remember the barn filled to the very highest peaks with sweet smelling hay. I remember, after playing for hours in that old barn, the prickly, itchy bits of hay that had made their way beneath our shirts and scratched our necks .
One of my favorite memories is actually an aroma. The smell of freshly cut hay in the fields is both sweet and savory, and all encompassing. As you drive the rolling hills in Blue Valley in late summer, you must roll the window down just enough to inhale its signature scent. Move over Chanel No. 5, you cannot compete with the delicious and heady scent of a freshly cut field in late summer.
I never asked Scott if he remembers that sweet scent, or if he recalls it in the same way I do. I must do this. He spent a lot of time cutting hay and baling it, so undoubtedly he'd recall it with a mixed memory of hard work and summer sweat.
Memories are funny like that. You tend to forget the prickly, itching part of them and with time, recall only the playful, sweet ones that linger like the summer's dew in Blue Valley.
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