Homecoming


A couple of weeks ago we spent some time up north with my parents in the small town where I grew up. We were there primarily for a family reunion, but also to plant a tree for Silas on my family's homestead. It's the farm where my father grew up and the land that he has worked for almost all of his adult life. When I was younger, "the farm" was a place of great possibility. After a mile-long ride on my bike (an incredible distance when you're seven) I was there and faced with a space so different from my neighborhood. I remember playing in the grove. I don't remember what I played, just that I was there. I remember finding a cache of pig bones, bleached white by the sun, from when the farm was home to hogs and earnestly trying to recreate an entire skeleton. I remember the deep, throaty bark of the Newfoundlands that defines, to this day, the way I think dog barks should sound. I may have grown up in town, but these few acres are the closest thing I have to a homestead; a place of personal history.

Even though I know that Steve and I will never make our home there (there's not much there for a boy who's a whiz with computers), there's so much that pulls me back and makes me hope that another generation of my family will return. It's the place where both of my parents grew up, and all of my grandparents too. My paternal great-grandfather was one of the sodbusters who founded the town. My maternal great-grandfather built the house that I grew up in; my grandfather writing "Arthur" in a shaky child's hand on the chimney in the basement. Later, my dad's grandmother lived there and he and my mom went to visit her there before they got married, noting that she refused to have a television. I walked the same school hallways that my parents did.

I'm of the generation of farmer's children who were encouraged to "get off the farm." My parents had my best interests at heart when they kept me away from the intimate workings of agriculture and instead strongly encouraged me to go to college and follow my heart to do whatever it was that I was called to do. But I yearn for a homecoming. I hope for a place of permanence to which I can return. I hope that, too, for Silas, which is why we gathered there to plant a tree for him.

It's a small symbolic gesture, but I hope that it's a place we can visit each time we're home to see family. Another living thing by which to mark Silas' growth and a link between him and this place. I want him to feel that connection and that desire to honor the generations of family that cared for this place before him by caring for it too.

We buried his placenta under the tree and it gives me more pleasure than I thought it would to imagine how this part of me that nourished my son for nine months is now finding new life by nourishing his tree. I close my eyes and see the cells that are part me and part Silas breaking down and re-emerging as new growth. New life. It is my greatest hope that a tree is not the only thing that was planted that day. That we were putting down not just arboreal roots, but family ones as well.

10 comments:

  1. How wonderful!

    Isn't it funny that parents want their children to leave and do other things, explore new worlds, but in the end, we always yearn to be back home?

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  2. So beautiful! Our patch of black earth a little southeast of you is now down to 49 acres. The homestead is gone and all that's left are a few barns and ancient equipment...not even a single tree. If it were geographically anywhere else, we would make it our mission to rebuild it. But, as it is, it will likely be swallowed into the nearby mega-farmer's property soon. What a treasure your family has. May it always be a part of your history and lives!

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  3. What a beautiful story. It's so nice that you are able to go back to the land from your youth. Finn's placenta is also planted under a tree (Phoebe's is still in our freezer....oops!)

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  4. That´s really nice, loved this story! :-)

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  5. Lovely- I'm a city girl but my parents own a hobby farm about an hour and a half outside of Toronto-
    Both my boys umbilical cords are planted with their trees and foreskin (is that TMI) on 'the farm'.

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  6. Beautiful. Glad the growing will continue!

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  7. Love it...and this is of course right up my alley since my husband and I just moved back to his family farm; I grew up less than an hour away, so it felt like a homecoming for both of us.

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  8. How wonderful to have those family roots. I love that you planted your son a tree on your family place and I would love to start that tradition here. xx

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  9. very well-spoken, my dear daughter!

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  10. Thank you so much for joining my blog hop. This is a lovely post! We do the tree planting thing as well. It is such a good visual to tie a child's history to a place and time.

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