Thursday, July 17, 2014

Find treasure by pursuing summer's Bucket List

“Want to see where I slept when I was your age?”
My granddaughter nods so hard that her blonde curls bounce up and down, and we labor up the wooden stairs of the old farmhouse. They’re still steep, 50 years later—Dad didn’t build the house to modern codes. 

“The walls are pretty!” she says, touching the peeling wallpaper—pink apple blossoms on a blue background.  I agree.

“Every morning I looked out this window.”

She looks past the shabby room and her blue eyes pop wide open at the view—quaking aspen laughing at the teasing clouds. 

Because we were poor growing up, my siblings and I are now rich.  Dad and Mom couldn’t hang on to their dry farm ground, but taxes were cheap on the house and a few acres of sage and aspen around it, so they kept it.

It’s a scruffy old farmhouse, and every summer we have to chase out the mice and order the porta-potties, but it’s our dry, dusty, playground; our treasure, our legacy for the next generation. 

Years ago we roamed the hills, pretending to be everything from Mormon pioneers to assassins.  Adolf Hitler and Nikita Khrushchev were our usual targets—World War II, the Cold War and President Kennedy’s death affected our psyches.  (If you played the part of Khrushchev, you took your shoe off and banged it on something!)

This summer’s flashflood in Rexburg, Idaho (20 miles from our farmhouse) reminds me of a flashflood we had when I was about five.  Within an hour, a raging torrent ripped through the bottom of our dry canyon, tearing out our road—I nearly drowned trying to swim in a river that appeared out of nowhere.

Pictures of us show the grubbiest, happiest children who ever walked the earth.

Going back to the farm reminds me of pleasures I haven’t enjoyed for a long time.  Here’s my “2014 Summer Bucket List”—
--Throw rocks into water.
--Throw sticks into water.
--Pile rocks up. 
--Pick peas.
--Eat peas.
--Peel the bark from a green willow stick and marvel at the slick, shiny, pungent interior.
--Peel the bark from a dead stick and feel the smooth interior.
--Pick huckleberries.
--Eat huckleberries.
--Pick flowers.
--Make dolls with flowers—a hollyhock for a skirt, a bluebell for a trunk and head.
--Lie on a blanket on an August night, watching for falling stars.

Once, while visiting the incomparable Beverly Castagneto, I asked where her husband Bill was.  She said, “He’s in the backyard, trimming bushes and pruning trees.  He’s busy all summer long, keeping our yard looking nice.  Nobody works harder than Bill.”

I’m sure that was true, but as we talked, I looked out a window over her shoulder and spotted Bill in the backyard—lying on his back with his arms behind his head, contemplating the clouds.

Whether his eyes were shut or open, Bill also had his Bucket List and his treasure.