Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I'm going to write a few catch-up posts about my recent trip home. One of the things I thought about a lot while home was how thankful I am for my family, especially my parents. And when I went out to get ice cream at Maple View Dairy with my mom, and we sat on the porch rocking chairs, I thanked her, and told her that she gave me the best upbringing I could have asked for.

My mom and dad grew up in seperate Idaho towns. My dad was the son of a dairy farmer and my mother's dad was the superintendent of a hydroelectric power plant. They both learned at a young age the importance of hard work. My mom remembers spending her summers in the Idaho bean fields. Her mom would drop the kids off at the fields before the sun came up and they'd spread out a blanket and sleep for few hours, then wake up and pick beans all day, all summer long, earning 4 cents a pound. At the end of the summer the money they earned would be spent on school clothes and shoes. My dad worked just as hard, milking cows and fixing cars under the tutelage of his father, who never did things for his kids, but instead would pull up a lawn chair and tell them how to do it themselves.

Years later, married with children, my parents were better off financially than their own parents had been, but they didn't let me know it. I grew up in an old house in the Oregon woods, with all of nature to instruct me. Summers from age 12 onward were spent just like my mom's--I was dropped off at the blueberry or the strawberry patch and picked my way to school-clothes money, the dollars stained berry-red. We didn't have ipods to listen to out there in the fields, but sometimes my sisters and I would sing songs. We were jealous of our older brother who got to pick cherries--he got to climb trees, and be in the shade.

When we weren't picking berries, we were roaming the fields and woods around our house, catching snakes and salamanders, picking wild irises, swimming in the ponds and creeks, and discovering all kinds of things. Every year we'd camp, go to the beach, hike, go on roadtrips to Utah to see relatives with plenty of detours to ghost towns and state parks along the way.

In the winter my family would drive up the road and cut down trees to fuel our woodstove. I can still remember the scents of pine-gum and gasoline, and the thrill of being allowed to come along. We'd gather around the woodstove on winter evenings to cuddle and tell stories, eating the walnuts we'd gathered in autumn from the trees in the backyard. My mom taught me to knit and crochet and sew, and she would instigate craft projects for us all. If I ever told her I was bored, she'd make me research and write a report on a random subject.

I guess I could go on forever, but the point is that I really feel like I had an idyllic childhood. I had energetic, talented, loving, righteous parents who taught me everything important: how to work and how to enjoy life. And I'm not saying this to brag or to say that my life has been perfect. I have made many mistakes along the way which have caused me grief, and none of my siblings have turned out perfectly, either. But I had an excellent start, an origin that I look back on with wonder, gratitude, and love. I truly could not have had a better childhood, and I hope I can give the same to my children someday.

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