This morning started out fairly busy at work but as the noon hour approached I had exceeded any expectations of how much I would get done. The owners were in from Saskatoon for the day and possibly tomorrow. They want to move to a larger location and were in town looking at some property. Maybe next year we will move but that's yet to be seen. Sooner or later I'm sure because we will and do need more space. I didn't perceive anything else much happening for the afternoon and what little might come across my desk I will be able to catch in the morning so I left for the day. I came home and fixed myself and nice lunch and then sat down at the computer to do some reading. The forecast was for some rain today and this time they had it right. I got home just in time to get my truck in the garage before it got wet or dirty. I know sometimes I'm a bit fanatical about a clean vehicle but that's just me. As I was sitting here I glanced up at the TV monitor attached to my security cameras and sat back for a bit and watched as the rain came down on the driveway. As I was watching the rain got me thinking back to a time long long ago when I was growing up on the farm.
Several times in my posts past you have read my descriptions of days when it would rain and the ways I amused myself or grandma would give me some indoor chores. As most of you know I was totally an outdoor person and where I was raised there was nothing but opportunity to be just that. All the hours I spent wandering around in the woods communicating with nature and just doing boy stuff that most would find completely boring and uninteresting in todays society. Still it was a joy to me and has played a big part in what I am today. With the lifestyle I lead my imagination was excersised to the maximum and the ability to find things to do and to be creative has followed me to this day. Just the awesomeness (did I just invent a word) of being alone in a vast woodland with nothing but nature all around. The sounds, the smells, the enjoyment of being around natures creations of beauty and the closeness I shared with the animals in the wild. It was and always will be the greatest of all adventures of my life. Even to this day I see images in my mind as clearly as I did when I was there as a young boy. There are other things in my life I've experienced that don't come close or even compare to these memories and I don't remember them as well either.
You can see I posted an image at the beginning of this story. What you see are Eastern Hemlocks, an evergreen that I have always loved. In West Virginia and lots of other places there are just an abundance of them. You would see them on the mountain sides, along creeks and rivers and around houses. When I was young and spending time in West Virginia during the summers, I would hike along some of the many creeks and there you would find lots of little hemlocks growing under the canopy of the larger ones. I would look and pick really nicely shaped ones and pull them up and stuff them into a sack I would be carrying. I would do this just before I was to return to the farm in Maryland with my grandparents. I kept the roots moist and when I returned home I would take and plant them in various locations about the farm. We had a circular driveway and I planted a few around there and when I finally left that place as an older person they were so big and majestic. I always loved that real Christmas tree look they had and the way the branches especially lower ones would blanket the ground.
Here I sat thinking about pine trees and watching the rain come down as I relaxed and once again exercised my mind by remembering things from and era past. This probably isn't going to be easy to explain but I'll try. As I think back and think about these Hemlocks I get this feeling of coziness and a closeness that is almost as real as it was then. Got you thinking already I'm sure. What possible way could a pine tree conjure up such feelings. Well here comes the explanation.
As I've posted before when I tired of being inside I would go out and play in the cornhouse or some other shed and maybe even doze off while listening to the sound of the rain tapping on the tin roof of these sheds. The same applies to the Hemlocks because there were many times when I would go to one of them and skuch up under the branches where it would be nice and dry and play and pretend. The way the branches and needles were formed on these trees provided excellent shelter from the elements. They were also easy to climb and the bark was not rough as on most evergreens, but rather smooth. This canopy of green which swooped down to the ground left a cave like opening directly under the tree and there was lots of room in there also. It wasn't uncommon to skuch (yeah that's a word us country folk use) up under one of these trees and find one of the local rabbits or even some birdies there. I would lay under there and listen to the rain as it hit the ground and leaves surrounding my hiding place and often times doze there too. I had these trees planted even in the deepest woods and often time used them for shelter or even an observation post. Sitting quietly under this canopy of green undetected and watching as natures world unfolded before my very eyes. I know it wasn't a shopping mall or a video game (which I had never heard of back then) but it was a video. A video that has been recorded in my mind for all these years never to be forgotten and a sight that many have or never will see.
You see how the branches are flat and almost in a woven pattern. Put them all together and there it is, the majestic Hemlock. Just look at this picture and see yourself skuching up under this tree into another world hidden from the world in front of you undetectable as you sit or lay quietly listening and seeing all from the greatest of all vantage spots. Can't you almost find yourself feeling that cozy closeness you would get in there? You had to be there to really know but maybe you can feel a bit of it or at least understand it some.
To some it may seem silly but to me it's serious. It's times like these when I sit and look at pictures of where I came from that I really start to miss being there. I was lonely as a kid but never felt that way because being alone was part of my life and that's why I filled it with such things as I describe in posts such as this. Also I came from a family life rich in love, closeness, and good values. There was lots of land around and not a whole lot of people so you learned to be busy whether at work or play. I did things, learned things, and had experiences that I wish more people could have had but since they didn't I can only tell them how it was. My life growing up on the farm was another lifetime. To this day I can sit back and just think of tons of memories of that lifetime and then when I grew up things were different. Time has flown by and this other lifetime I've lived doesn't seem to have as many memories or at least not that I can remember. To me it doesn't come to mind as another lifetime as did my youth. Strange but still a fact.
Getting back to the Hemlocks before I forget who and where I am, it wasn't just during the rain I would escape to these wonderful hideouts. You know these remind me of the fodder shocks you've read about in my previous posts and how I would hide and play pretend in but the difference was location.
The fodder shocks were in an open field while the Hemlocks were in the woods hidden away from the rest of the world. No not just during rain storms, but during the winter months when everything was cloaked with a blanket of white. The Hemlocks were especially great for these times. I would go into the woods tracking to see which animals had been out and about and I would find a spot where there was good activity and then find a Hemlock to hide under.
Hemlocks held the snow well on their branches leaving a nice dry place underneath out of the cold and wind. Have you ever noticed how quiet it seems to get after a nice blanket of snow covers everything? Well imagine you are out in the woods and there are no major highways nearby nor are there any houses close and here you are skuched (there's that word again) up under one of these spots. Can you hear the quiet? Most people say you can't hear quiet but that's because they have never really heard it. I have and it's so calming but to me back then it was just the way it was suppose to be. You are sitting quietly and occasionally you hear a plop as a big clump of snow falls from a nearby tree. You hear the beautiful singing of the cardinals in their bright red coats which are winter birds and the peeping like music of the smaller birds. Then all of a sudden you hear this whooshing sound as a great owl comes soaring by with it's masive wingspan cutting through the air and then it gets quiet again as it glides away. Listen closely and you might hear a crunching sound as a deer approaches and it's hoofs cut through the fresh snow. It can't see you hidden under the boughs of the tree but it catches your scent and alertly looks about with it's ears up and then makes this loud snorting sound as it prances away only to stop a short distance from you thinking the danger is past and starts once again rooting through the snow for morsels of food hidden beneath. You too have dug beneath the snow in places to find these red berries we always called Creek Berries and eat them the same as the deer. These are the times when you would more than likely find some critter hidden under these trees. I have found numerous birds, squirrels, rabbits and an occassional fox hiding there. Even with the protection you would start to feel the cold and then you would move on taking with you those videos in your mind of what you saw not thinking that they would be there some 50 years later just as vivid as that very day.
Yes just sitting here watching the rain on the monitor and thinking back. Back to that time I have treasured for all these years and sometimes I find myself wishing I'd had off spring to tell these stories to but I don't so all I can do is leave them out here for anyone interested. Funny how the mind has these things stored away just like a hard drive. It took man years to develope the electronics such as the hard drive to store information on probably not realizing he had one with him all along.
So for now I shut the memories down and get ready for bed so I can make my way to the office in the morning but it was a nice trip and I only hope you enjoyed it as well. I will still feel that cozy feeling as I nestle my head into the pillow and drift off to sleep pretending maybe that I'm under the boughs of one of those Hemlocks so long ago feeling safe and secure from the rest of the world.