Friday, September 2, 2011

Days In The Wood Lot By: Alma Field Sevier

In 2002 I asked my grandmother if she would give me a copy of her journals. She hand typed a whole binder filled with her writings. I thought I would share them with you all. I always thought she should get them published but she was not interested. Her words really are beautiful though and I thought you all would love to read them. Enjoy!

Days In The Wood Lot By: Alma Field Sevier

The day "pop" went to the woods were of many experiences to all of us. It gave us a day with Dad when there wasn't too much discipline - as long as you didn't get hurt - You could do it!!

It would take us a good half hour of rummaging through the mitten and scarf box - another length of time going through the boot box to find enough warm clothes to put on. After we got all bundled up we never failed to discover - we had to go to the bathroom!! Mom un-pinned; un-wrappedand un-tied us all; only to have to re-pin; re-wrap and re-tie us all back up again!!

Out the back door we slammed; one at a time. Bang! Bang! Bang! The last one to leave was on a dead run, with one boot on and one boot half on. Might get left behind you know!! Pop had the John Deere hooked up to the old "Honey Wagon"; so we clambered in. If by chance the load of "Honey" had been drawn out that morning; Dad patiently went back to the barn and got an arm full of burlap feed bags to place along the sides for us to sit on.

Up the road we went; Dad  singing as loud as he could. I guess he sang loud so he could hear himself over the put-put of the tractor!! Looking back we always saw Mom waving good-bue to us from the living room window - why did she always look so happy to see us going?? I wonder if she was actually relieve d to be alone for a while?

Mom had given us orders; ten  times over; to either sit down or hang onto the back brace bar. Of corse we'd almost always forget. We'd go staggering and falling to the back when Dad let the clutch quick. Looking back on it - I suspect he did it just to see us go scattering!!

We were supposed to keep track of dad; to see if he got hurt and run and let mom know. We were also instructed to help load the wood into the wagon after it had been split and blocked to the correct size. We usually loaded just enough to be able to tell Mom we had helped.

Most of the afternoon or day was spent doing all sorts of things. There was a gorge to be investigated; lots of trails throughout the woods to walk down. Best of all was when we went up in early fall - there was soft green moss; snails; waterfalls; dead logs and oh so many other things to lure a child off the country into a dream world. With an afternoon before you - you had time to make all sorts of things out of the soft ooze from the creek bottom; flower petals; fossil rocks; oh my what an assortment of articles to make anything your imagination could stir up!! The opposite bank of the gorge was MADE for BOTTOM-SLIDDING!! We found all sorts of tracks along the edges of the creek - raccoon; deer; crawdads and LOTS of toads.

It took hours to make a good, reliable dam; play houses under a log; fireplaces or any other idea that "popped" into our uncluttered minds.

Our woodland friends drank from the small ponds we made with our cild-sized dams. Their tracks were there when we went back on the next trip for firewood.

Sometimes we had time to make forts or houses. By brushing away leaves, stones and twigs we had a smooth floor. Walls were made by laying limbs or brush where we pretended a wall to be. Beds were made of moss; dishes of pooled bark; fences of inter-woven twigs.

After hearing the tree Dad was cutting down; go "crash" we always ran to look up and see the "hole in the sky". It's a thrill of un-measurable magnitude to look up and see all the empty space; the once graceful tree filled; to see a tree on its side gives one who loves nature a pang of sorrow. It took years to grow and only minutes to stop its growth.

Counting the rings on the stump showed us just how many years the tree had taken to get as big as it was. Some times we found one almost 100 years old but not many for the area had ben "lumbered off" just before the "Sevier's" moved here. Some spaces between the tree rings were wide some very narrow. Many times a dark streak ran through the wood - showing where the tree had received an injury of some kind. Mother nature heals many injuries in plant life - like she does in us. Scientists tell us the wide rings show a good growing year of plenty of rain and warm weather. Narrow rings show dry summers and maybe cold ones. To us kids they were just PRETTY!!

Of corse the next thing to be done, was to walk up along the log into the branches. Then you reached out and we "worked" ourselves along a branch that was sticking out high off the ground.

The thrill of playing Tarzan on the branches is one that city dwelling children seldom know. You ease  down over the limb; scratching your knees and your belly; hanging on tight; you start to push yourself up and down; up and down; up and down. Soon the whole limb is helping you. After you've reached your limit of control you drop down onto the heaven of twigs; leaves and land in a ball on the soft earth which is fragrant with all the years of forest.

Ger hurt? Naw - farm kids seldom break bones. We're fed on fresh meats, fruits and vegetables - all grown on the land we own. All we can eat anytime we're hungry We're put to bead early, so we're rested. Our bones and muscles have grown strong from climbing and walking.

After the wood was piled high onto the spreader, we started for home. Wet mittens were gathered; for we had brought several pairs. Mom knew one pair per kid would never be enough to keep us warm all afternoon. Did we get all the axes; wedges; Oh were is the maul? Yes, the saw and the gas cans are on. Where's the oil can? There on the stump!! With a roar of the engine the tractor strained onto the road and we were off!! Dad always made us walk out to the edge of the wood lot when we had a full load. He was afraid of us falling off while traversing the slippery rutted trails up through the wood lot Following the wagon we watched for the pieces that might loosen and fall off.

Loggin trails are always a problem to walk or drive over. If thawed they are always slippery with mud holes and ruts. If frozen there's still ruts and it makes for hard tricky footing.

As soon as we came to the open lot at the edge of the woods, you could feel a huge difference in the temperature. Snow could be seen sifting over the crusted snow and the air would blow sharply cold up over the knob and sink into ever gap in your clothing. Dad would flip his hood up and we knew it was going to be a cold trip home. Sometimes we would climb on the load and ride home but usually one of us was to eager and would run all the way to the house. If we road the load we always "sang" our way home - Dad singing the loudest.

Sometimes Ma would walk to the woods to help load the wood. She had supper ready and had "set it" to keep it warm on the coal heater. THEN we had to behave ourselves!!

The glow of the lighted house windows was always her favorite sight. It was like a warm greeting from a close friend.

Supper was good - no matter how simple. No stylish dishes - always just the fundamental - meat; potatoes and vegetable.

To bed under warm, home sewn blankets. OUr bedrooms were COLD, so Ma piled on blankets until we could hardly move!

1 comment:

  1. what a lovely story to get lost in. Her writing grabs you and you are THERE...not sitting at a desk, reading a screen. Cant wait to read more of it.