Thursday, May 17, 2012

Friday Farm Fun- Memories of "The Hill"

I'm home this weekend. Home, as in where I grew up. And driving up the lane to my dad's house you can't miss "the" hill. There is a decades old apple orchard that sits at the base of the hill. In  front of the orchard is the chicken house and chicken pen, then the backyard, and the old farm house my parents bought in 1960.  The house has since had a bedroom added on out of the attic space. A bathroom added on to the laundry room, The living room enlarged, the long screened in back porch used to extend the dining room and made an enclosed back porch, and the wall between the dining room and the kitchen was removed. Over the years the buildings have all been changed to fit the needs of our family but the hill has stayed the same.

One tall lone pine has always stood on the hump before the top of the hill. The pine tree has been a ship's mast, a tower, a dragon, and a rocket as we played under it as children.

The hill could keep me entertained as I scoured the sides in spring for colorful flowers. In the summer, we'd climb to the top with cardboard boxes and slide down or ride the horses to the top and pretend we were a posse looking for outlaws. When the weather was really hot, we'd scale the trail that clung to the side of the hill around the west side and make our way to the swimming hole on the sand bar of the river that ran through our property.  In the winter, we'd haul the sleds up to the top and sled down the backside if we had the energy to climb back up or we'd sled down front side and hope we stopped before the orchard fence.

The hill wasn't only for play. Many a times we'd have to scale it more than once when herding sheep. There    was always a small contingent that would outfox us and head around the hill rather than go in the corral. And one summer our dad offered to pay us a penny for every mullein plant we dug up. It started out as a good idea. We grabbed shovels and bags and headed to the hill to dig up the tall fuzzy plants the sheep wouldn't eat. We dug a few and became bored with digging and started using them as swords and bats and by the time Dad came to count them they were in lots of pieces and he wouldn't pay us because he couldn't tell how many we did dig. And he wondered if we each only dug one given it didn't look like there were any less.

The wildlife on the hill consisted of badgers, red diggers, raccoon, deer, elk, and various birds and small vermin. Oh and skunks and porcupines. The dogs ran into those more than we did.

And I'll never forget the summer we stood on the hill and watched a forest fire, started by lightning, glow and grow as it came down the canyon toward us. We watched the fire equipment rumble up the gravel county road toward the fire as airplanes dumped retardant on the flames lapping at the mountainside like a large orange tongue and spewing smoke in the air. We could smell the nose tingling smoke and feel the heat rushing down the canon toward our hill. My uncle, who was visiting, had the car loaded when we came down off the hill. He tried to talk my dad into leaving with him, but Dad said the fire wouldn't reach us and it didn't.

The hill holds fond memories of friends who climbed it with me. Of friends and cousins who rode horses to the top with me and of all the solitary times I spent on the hill. It will always be "the" hill to me and bring back fond memories.

Do you have a place from your childhood that brings back wonderful memories?


terri patrick said...

This is a wonderful article! It brings back all kinds of memories from my childhood.

Paty Jager said...

Terri, Glad I could bring back memories for you as well.