Friday, June 5, 2009

Going Home

by Lynn Gardner

There is a sweet feeling "going home." I haven't lived in Idaho since I got married in 1958 and we left to finish school at Utah State, but Idaho is home. I'm staying at my sister's while I'm in Idaho Falls doing book signings and the heart strings get tugged at every corner we turn.It's constantly "Oh, that's still there!" or "This hasn't changed much." or "Wow! When did that go up?"

Our old "homestead" in Lewisville has changed so drastically it is hardly recognizable. They've taken out the huge trees that ringed our property, torn down the fence (or did it fall down?) remodeled the house so it no longer has a front porch. But the barn is still there and the garage, though both are pitifully small compared to my memories of them when we used to play "Annie I Over" the garage and slide down the barn roof when we had lots of snow in the winter time. I didn't know we were poor when I was growing up, but looking at the house, buildings and the tiny farm, I guess we were. But since everyone else in town was in about the same condition, none of us realized it at the time.

We had an idyllic childhood - the run of our small Mormon community. Each mother looked out for whatever kids were in her yard or home at the time. I'm sure there was a network on our party line where a mother could pick up the phone and call a neighbor and all the other neighbors would also pick up to listen and someone would know where we were, but in the summer we could easily be gone all day playing and not check in at home. We just had to be home by dark, but then after supper we could go back outside and gather on someone's lawn and experience the magic of fireflies and a zillion stars. Or meet under the street lights and continue whatever games or fun we had been having. We frequently slept out on the lawn with friends, never thinking for a minute there could be danger in the darkness.Strangers in town were very few. Everyone knew everyone else. No one even locked their doors. In fact, we didn't have a lock on our door for years!

On Thursday nights we had a movie at the church and everyone in town walked over to the church to watch it, then we all walked home in the dark down the middle of main street, with a few peeling off here or there to go to their homes. If mom or dad or both couldn't go, not a problem. We kids went alone. Every mother was a mother to everyone else's kids. And if you did something wrong, you got it from that mother, then got it worse when you got home.

My sister and brother-in-law drove me up to Jackson, Wyoming where we used to go at least once a month in the summer - sometimes we just rode up on a Sunday afternoon between Sunday School in the morning and Sacrament meeting in the evening. Everything was so green it took my breath away. California is going to burn up this summer as t is so dry already - no blade of green in the countryside except the farm fields. Usually we don't turn brown until July - this year the hot winds dried everything out by mid April. So I drank in the lush green grasses, all the varied shades of green in the trees, the huckleberry, chokecherry and haw bushes in bloom. I loved seeing the asparagus on the ditch and canal banks. I have such sweet memories of driving in the country to pick the wild asparagus every spring.

Jackson is booming. There were still some elk in the refuge where thousands are fed in the winter time, but most have gone back up into the hills for the summer. We saw buffalo along the road side, antelope, deer, and a couple of young moose. No bears this trip.We stopped at the new visitor's center at Jenny's Lake, but it was a cloudy, rainy day and we couldn't see the tops of the mountains. I marveled again that there are no foothills leading up to the majestic Teton Peaks. They just rise straight up out of the ground like some giant hand had grabbed a handful of earth and pulled it up to his chest, then walked along pulling up another handful and another as he took giant strides for miles. I loved the stainless steel lines at the visitor's center that pointed to each of the peaks showing their names and how high they were. I'd forgotten the names of some of them. The park ranger was captivating a group around the topographical map, telling them about the Pica and other animals found there. I wished my grandkids had been with us.
We did the loop, then stopped in Jackson for lunch at a bakery/restuarant. My sister and I ordered a Monte Christo and a chicken quesadilla and split them. Delicious - but the turtle cheese cake was to die for!

We headed back home and had to stop (full though we were from lunch) to get a square ice cream cone in Swan Valley - a tradition that goes back at least 60 years and maybe more. The dry farms are green with a new wheat crop and we passed mile after mile of rolling hills where deep snow had been only a couple of months ago. I don't miss the snow, but I do miss the green. Our little corner of the Mojave Desert in California is NOT green (except our backyard where you'd never know you were in a desert.) We stopped at the cemetary in Lewisville and took the wilted flowers from ghe graves of my mom and dad, my brother who was killed when he was 12, and our little son who lived only 14 months. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins - and generations belong to my family in that little green spot next to sage brush covered hills. Going back to Idaho is always sweet - and sad - but even after living in our home in California for 25 years, Idaho is still HOME.


Jennie said...

What is it about us Idaho girls? As much as I love Utah, there's a part of my that will always call Idaho home too.

Gale Sears said...

What a glorious place to grow up! I loved your description of the surroundings, fun experiences, and many moms. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Such a wonderful, nostalgic post. There really is no place like home.

Anna Buttimore said...

Lynn, it all sounds idyllic. And now I need to find out what a Monte Cristo is, and where I can get one!