Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back in the Olden Days...

My niece Avery bounded into her parents' bedroom the other morning with an exclamation of, "I had the most wonderful dream last night!"


If you know Avery, you know that she definitely did bound. Or prance. Or sashay. Steve says it's like living with me as a child all over again.

Lucky him. :)

Anyway, she had a dream that we were all together again at a Log Splitting Festival. Bits of the dream were classic Avery... like the fact that she and her mom had spiffy new matching outfits. Because seriously, people, who would go to a Log Splitting Festival without a new outfit?

But the great part was that we were all together. The cousins, the aunts and uncles, and most importantly – Grandma and Grandpa. She said Dad was there, talking to everyone and giving them instructions as to how a person can best split a log.

Which would so be my Dad. The social part and the instructional part.

I grinned when Patience said she had no idea how Avery came up with a Log Splitting Festival for us all to meet up, but I knew without a moment's hesitation. Splitting wood as a family is exactly what Dad would have had us all doing when I was her age.

Growing up on the farm, we heated our home solely with a wood burning furnace. Which means every fall around this time, we would head out to Gib and Bev Buscher's homestead and trek out into their woods to split logs.

[I know you guys think I make this stuff up, but we were eerily similar to the Walton's. Only better dressed. Sometimes.]

I really think my memories of being at the Buscher's is one of the reasons I love autumn so much to this day. We would bundle up, and dad would haul a gas log splitter out into the middle of the trees. After using a chainsaw to cut large portions of the trunk down to size, the older kids would load them onto the splitter ... and the CRACK! of the wood when it split would pop and echo into those quiet woods – making me jump every. single. time.

And Dad, every year, would go out into the woods with the idea that the kids were big enough to do a lot of the work themselves. And then he would begin showing everyone how to do it. And he'd never stop showing us long enough to let anyone take over.

That was Dad's way of doing everything. When I first started taking care of the lawn with our riding lawn mower, it took two weekends before Dad actually let me get on and drive the thing by myself. He'd get on the mower to "show me how." And then he'd do a couple of swings around the outer edge of the lawn to "get me started." And then, of course, he'd need to show me how to go diagonally to get the best look.

Eventually, he'd let me "finish up" when there was maybe a row or two left to mow. He was very thorough in his instruction, and log splitting was no different.

I never really cared if I helped split logs anyway, to be honest with you. I wasn't in it for the manual labor. I was in it for the festivities. We'd head up to the house when everything was finished and Bev would be there with our spread for dinner. There would be hot chocolate with marshmallows, apple cider or Russian tea [which I think is some kind of cider with Tang in it?]. We would sit by a fire and roast hot dogs and s'mores and take in the cool [sometimes downright cold] air of autumn.

I love that Avery had that dream. I love that she got to see Dad and get her spiffy new matching outfit. And I like to think Dad planted that seed in her head just so I could drift back into my memories and recall a time when life was chaotic, yet peaceful. And innocent. And blissfully simple.

And, above all, full of love and happy.

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