Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: Planting the Palouse
By Emily Gibson
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Al and my mother were born in the isolation of a Palouse wheat farm, in a two story white house located down a long lane and nestled in a draw between the undulating hills. My uncle, after attending college, was destined by his gender and birth order to remain on that farm, to work long days and many nights over scores of years in all kinds of weather, before turning it over to his own son. I sometimes wondered how much his heart really belonged to that farm or if the legacy of the farmer's son prevented him from pursuing another destiny. He could not really leave the fertile piece of land that witnessed his birth, even if he felt a calling to another profession. Homesteaded by his grandfather and someday to be farmed by his grandson, there was family sweat equity fertilizing the soil from generation to generation. Perhaps he yearned to be free of it, but I never knew that to be the case. He seemed born to farm and farm he did and he did it well, raising his family in the old farmhouse that stood vigil amidst the hills.
Our occasional summer visits were filled with exploration of the rolling hills, the barns, and the chilly cellar where the fresh eggs were stored after we reached under cranky hens to gather them. We sat in the cool breeze of the picketed yard, watched the huge windmill turn and creak next to the house. We settled in the screened porch listening to adults talk about lentil prices and bushel production, who was sick and who had died and what the harvest might yield depending on the weather. We woke to the mourning dove call in the mornings. We ate wonderful meals cooked by my loving aunt and her daughters, and read every comic book and Mad Magazine in my cousin's collection. We listened to our Uncle Al tell stories and watched him do card tricks--he always had a few new ones.
Even as a young child visiting my uncle's family, I felt a kinship that tugged at me at a very cellular level. I too felt I'd been called to this kind of life: the hard work of devout stewards of the land.
I know from where my shyness comes, my preference for birdsongs rather than radio music, my work ethic of going until I drop, and my tendency to be serious and straight laced with a twinkle in my eye. This is my Palouse farmer side--immersing in the quietness of solitude, thrilling to the sight of the spring wheat flowing like a green ocean wave in the breeze and appreciating the warmth of rich soil held in my hands. From this spare richness came my mother and it is the legacy my Uncle Al shared graciously with his kid sister's children during our brief summer visits with his family. It has stuck with me and I'll be forever grateful to him.
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