I have said I live with my great-aunt. And her friends. It was a cult in some ways, but we will discuss more later.
The property was big. It wasn’t just one house on the land but many. Driving in from the road, the first two buildings are on the left and right. They are close to the main road, right after the ravine with the leaning tree.
We lived in the trailer on the right for a while. This is where mother dug the phone trench. I recall sleeping in this trailer. A storm brewing outside. The sound of thunder. And the light flashing in the window. We slept on bunk beds. One night the thunder was so loud it broke a transformer. We lost power.
Close to the trailer was an outhouse. Not a bathroom. Well a couple out houses. One was for storage. My aunt had the idea the other would be a school. There was a leak once near this building. Abner, one of my aunts friends on the property fixed it.
This is where we got King. The Doberman. This may be the oldest memory I have of mother’s father. He was a grumpy old man. But he was the one who gave us King as a puppy.
We lived in this trailer on and off for years. One time when we were young mother was opening a can of pasta sauce. She cut her finger and screamed. She was making such a to-do I thought. And, what was blood and what was pasta sauce?
Years later a Hispanic family lived in this trailer, until burned in a fire. This is the place me and my sister tried to run away from. Between the trailer and the main road was a field.
There are a lot of memories. We plugged up the toilet with a toothbrush. Though I don’t know why we even had a toothbrush. Mother told us about water being blue because it reflects the colour of the sky.
I learned to ride a bike while living in the trailer. There was a tire swing in the front yard. A family lived across the street. Their children would come and play.
On the left was a trailer/house where relatives of Abner lived. Lavonne and Abner owned the property. My great-aunt lived there for years. As well as another woman, Elsie. They were religious, Christian. But they had their own path. They beat pillows as a form of prayer.
When I had intestinal issues they said it was a demon of lust. When they read, “the first Noel,” it upset them. They called god, El. By the traditional Hebrew name. “no-el” meant no god to them. So they changed it to the first Ya-El. Ya being another name they accepted for god. But, there was only one. So they changed it again to “the only Ya-El.” Noël means Christmas.
But I digress. I was taking you on a tour. Up the road we see barns on the right. A gate leads to the neighbors on the left. This is where the skeleton hung. There was a water tank near the fence. Once we wrote a welcome to our great-aunt on the tank.
To the right is another trailer. I don’t recall who owned or lived in this trailer. Next to it was a pile of sheet rock. Most likely made of gypsum. We used pieces of it for chalk. To write on water tanks. Going past here, the road turns and goes up a hill. Passing over a cattle guard, the main house sits before you. It was a big house. When I was a child they added a room. This is where Lavonne’s mother lived. Where later she lived, and died. There was a yard, a green house and a small garden. Next to it was a giant water tank. We had two sources of water. One had green faucets and the other red. The red water was from the river and not to be drank. I am sure I did anyway. The green was well water for drinking and house use.
Between the house and the water tank was the path to the river. The road goes on to the right. Passed a couple of trees me and my sister used to love climbing. Further off to the left was an orchard. The upper house was where the women lived when we were children. This is the place I once cried and tried to not leave.
I was also a big house. Well in my memory. But if you’ve ever returned to your childhood home, you will wonder when it shrunk. The house had two small detached rooms, and a small shed. It also had some fruit trees. On one of those trees I got a small apple once. I tossed it at some baby chickens in folly. And killed one. Me and my sister buried it without telling anyone. But I felt terrible.
We will come back to many of these people and places again. Except for Elsie who died of cancer while I was still young.
If I had grown up any other place, I wouldn’t be me. If I hadn’t had the space to explore. It was a lot of space. And the people who helped raise me. I know they cared about me, each in their own way. But none of them could contain me and didn’t try to keep a leash on me.
The only people I ever remember respecting as a child were those adults. One time other children came down the river. They threw things at us and called us names. We went back and talked to the adults about the incident. It felt good to believe they could do something about those kids.
Those are the only adults who I ever trusted to protect me. And after I left at a young age, I stopped trusting them too. Not because I felt they didn’t care anymore, but I felt they couldn’t.
Behind the upper house was a small chicken hutch. And a fenced in area for goats, with a lower barn for the coats. And sometimes cows. There was a clothesline I once almost killed myself running into. You know the wrestling move, “the clothesline.” Well, I did it in real life. A path from the upper house went to the lower barn. But another path went into the neighboring property. It followed the fence and crossed back, to go to the lower trailer.
One thing we enjoyed as children was feeding the goats. We would gather acorns. And I don’t know why it was acorns. I remember being young and helping load hay into the barn. I thought I was so strong. They used to milk the cows in the barn, and the goats. This is what I grew up on, meat from cows raised on the land. Eggs from the backyard. Milk from our own goats.
Sounds magical doesn’t it?