Thursday, May 23, 2013

A little history of this patch of the prairie

Four generations ago my paternal great-grandfather acquired this quarter of a section in Driftwood township from the Shuler family who homesteaded here.  My grandfather Lou was raised on this farm, then he in turn raised his family on this same quarter of ground where my dad was the youngest of 5 children.  When grandpa Lou passed away, dad inherited the farm and we moved here.  I grew up here as well.  My dad is still alive and kicking but I live here now too, in my own house, located in what I knew as a kid as the garden.  Believe me, this was no small garden patch from my childhood.  My dad has told me that the area just west of where my house sits is what used to be the cattle trail where the cows would come up out of the pasture to the water tank.

Funny how some things maintain skeletons of their previous uses even on a wheat farm that has changed so much in appearance since my family first moved in.  There used to be a barn where the grain bins and a storage shed now sits with a corral.  There used to be a pig pen where now we have a windbreak.  There used to not be so many cedar trees creating the wind break - want to guess how excited I was about having to water those little trees every few days when I was a kid by hauling buckets of water from the nearest hydrant which seemed like it was a mile away.  Today I am so glad dad made me do that because I love this windbreak and can't imagine trying to live here without it today.

What is most amazing about this little patch of prairie is the night sky.  As a child I can remember laying out on the buffalo grass with my sister looking up at the stars.  We knew the Milky Way and it was so vivid in the summer sky.  We had a game we would play where we would try to find our own constellations along with the established ones. 

A similar game played in the summertime during the day was watching the clouds drift by and finding fun shapes within them, like bunnies and alligator snouts.  As a child I would spend countless hours playing outside on a blanket or in dad's old Army tent with my sister.  We would dress up the dogs, our dolls, have tea parties, make mud pies, had lots of picnics, chase fireflies, read books, color, and squeal when a bug crawled onto the blanket!

Those same games I played as a I child I still do today - I watch the clouds; now in a more scientific and weather related way.  I sit out on the deck and enjoy the fresh air.  I don't dress up the cats or the dogs but they are quite content to lounge nearby.  I even still go out at night and look at the stars. 

I wish I had known about meteor showers back then.  Now when I get done working at the computer in mid August and providing all the storms have cleared out, I grab my bottle of wine and one of the lounge chairs from the deck and go sit out in the middle of the driveway watching the night sky for meteors.  I don't use anything fancy like a telescope, just the naked eye because there is no light pollution.  Check back in August for a report on the Perseid meteor shower to see how many meteors I count.