There's a little more time for reflection in the winter when you live and work on a farm. This reflection takes me in many directions but lately to two old cigar boxes that house Metzger family photos. These faded old photographs, captured by my mother-in-law in the 1940s and 1950s, have a multi-layered story to tell.
The scenes are familiar and yet not so familiar – the old farm house, the new house taking shape across the road, the barn. There are tractors and trucks and wagons. Some of the faces I never knew and some I recognize though time, worry and smiles had carved new angles by the time I came into their lives. It's a parade of cows, horses, chickens, dogs, cats and even a tame deer. Men and women at work - in the kitchen, in the garden, in the fields, in the barn. The crops - peas, potatoes, cauliflower, hay, green beans. There are birthday celebrations, picnics, holiday dinners, mud pies. The children go off to school, dress up in costumes, play in the snow. The little blue spruce tree in the front of the house that is so often a place to pose in Easter dresses and birthday hats now towers way above the roof tops.
That chubby-cheeked little boy I see in those pictures grew up with a deep attachment to this place on the planet. Circumstances took him away from this spot and yet brought him back when he needed it most.
We've added our own heritage to this old family farm. Has it really been 38 years that we've lived at this address? Our old memories are recorded on trays of 35mm slides and contact prints from black and white film and shoe boxes of photos in the attic.
Our children surprised us at Christmas with a handcrafted sign that will be planted here on the farm come spring. They collaborated with the artist on the design that reflects the heritage we all share. Perhaps our grandchildren will help dig the post holes and pose with us for a photo that their children will find on a old thumb drive one day.
(More of the photos from the old days can be found on the "Our Farming Heritage" page on this blog. I add photos there as time allows.)