As I rode in the back seat with my siblings, we bounced with glee, with a little help from the road. On the right of the dirt road we travel stands a massive hill covered with trees and fallen leaves. To the left lays a pasture, brown house and dead-looking; a creek, that empties into the lake; and a twin hill on the right.
As we close the distance between the cattle guard and the ancient two-story house, the scent of country drifts into the car. The sweet smell of burning wood and the faint aroma of animals can be caught off the wind. The trees on the hillsides are bare of leaves, the ground, cluttered shin-deep with the fallen foliage. The trees are bare enough to be a child’s stick drawings.
The smell of smoke strengthens as we approach the driveway. The old wooden rail fence we pass looks to be grown, not built. The driveway is just two dirt paths with protruding rocks, and grass growing between the paths.
The house has wide stairs that lead to a large porch. Its bordered by a waist-high rock wall that stands at the base of a hill. As I climb the stairs, the creak and sudden snap of the screen door bring my head up to see my grandmother.
After the hugs and hellos, we enter the house. The wide strips of the wood floor are glass smooth. I can’t wait to take my shoes off.
Standing at the front door, the kitchen lies to the left through a wide doorway with no door. At the back of the kitchen are two doors. One door leads to a bedroom. The other door leads to the dungeon-like basement, always cold and damp. To the right of the front door burns the warmly glowing wood, below the massive gray stone mantle.
At the back of this room, there are two more doors. One door leads to the other bedroom. The second door leads to the attic which has been turned into a third bedroom. The stairs, dark and steep, have claimed many falls over the years. The attic, with its triangular shape, is clean; however, the scent of it not being used in quite some time, tickles the nose.
Curtain-less windows adorn both ends of the room, and the single light fixture, mounted in the center of the room, right where the ceiling meets, is not bright enough to compete with the gray light of this late fall day.
When my brother and I leave the house to go out and play, I see the big red barn. It has a pigsty attached to the back and a high metal rail fence encompassing the barnyard. The steady trickle of the spring emptying into the creek brings my attention to the old weather-worn hay barn. I know the hay barn, not quite full, holds many adventures for us.
I see the old milking house, white with dark streaks, and remember thinking that it has been empty too long. Beyond the milking house lies the huge garden from which, in the late spring, the smell of fresh vegetables can be tasted off the air.
Today, many of the structures and trees do not stand. They’ve been torn or cut down by new owners. Although I haven’t had the heart to see what the Old Farm has become, I will always remember it on those late fall days.