May 23 • 11:08 AM

A place of beauty, solitude, precious memories

July 07, 2010
We'll put Homecoming 2010 on hold for a week while I share with you today's enjoyment of this blessed, cool day.

A Place of Beauty...A Place of Solitude

When I was a child, it was a spring-fed pasture field for our herd of dairy cows. My late afternoon job was to walk down the north lane back of the barn and scoot the cows to the barn for the five o'clock milking. Sometimes I would hurry down lane calling "ca' boss, ca' boss, ca' boss" (ca' for come, boss for bossie...'cow' in farmer language), because I was in a hurry to get back to my playhouse above the granary. The napping cows (they were Guernseys, lots of cream at the top of the milk Holsteins are more popular...not so much cream), would scramble to their feet, anxious to get to the barn to be relieved of their milk-filled udders. Other times I would take my favorite "Bobbsey Twins" books or Gene Stratton Porter's "Freckles" and sit beneath the oak tree on the bank of the stream in the pasture. A place of beauty...A place of solitude. The gurgling stream was great background music for my reading.

Now the spring-fed pasture is a spring-fed pond surrounded by a lawn mowed by son Alan who lives a short distance up his lane. Carol and Bob, who live up the hill a short distance, help also. Pauline has planted flowering bulbs. The lawn is dotted with white pine, spruce, an ornamental cherry tree, is edged by sumac, a maple now and then and a small cedar swamp hiding a historic outhouse bending over with age and no longer in use. A little red building lovingly dubbed 'The Shack' is settled nearby. When the grandchildren and Alan and Pauline bring their RVs down for a rendezvous, they have their own facilities. Daisy and I slept in The Shack one night when all were down here and a mother raccoon with two babies climbed the screen door. Daisy quietly watched the performance.

We are at this place of beauty and solitude now, commonly called 'the pond.' Daisy just watched a woodchuck nosey around, knowing better than to tackle it. They are tough and rough fighters.

Jenny wren has been singing his heart out the last few times Daisy and I have been here. Today I finally saw him duck into a knot in a dead limb of the willow under which we are sitting. I suppose Mrs. Wren is nesting there. He is now preening himself on a branch nearby. Oops! There he goes into a smaller hole above the knot. Fanceee! A front and back door.

Years ago, the oak tree on the bank of the stream I mentioned earlier, died. I felt like I had lost a friend. Red cut it down and hauled the trunk to our backyard for me to enjoy. I have watched many a sunset from it. I wonder if it is still there. Likewise, a huge stone in the barnyard that I thought beautiful, especially after a rain, and deserved better than to be splattered with manure, Alan moved under a maple outside the kitchen door.

Life has changed. I now live on the bank of a branch of the Clinton River that also gurgles across my '45.' Sometimes, especially after a rain, I can hear it gurgle from my bedroom window. I ask it what it saw on its journey across the '45'...a fox?...perhaps the image of a little girl riding her pony back on the '45' to her "cathedral" as Freckles had in the book, and then the little girl rounding up the cows for them to return to the barn to be milked? That place also A Place of Beauty...A Place of Solitude.

—Country Cousin

P.S. Don't forget the Strawberries and Ice Cream Social at the West Berlin United Methodist Church on Holmes Rd., in Allenton from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 8. There will be pies, cakes, cookies and cones.

Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.
Castle Creek
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