The old, white farmhouse had stood on its 22 acres for over a hundred years. It had seen whole lifetimes lived within it. Winters had come and summers had passed over it for many long years. It stood comfortably on a patch of soft, green grass shaded by tall trees. The house itself was painted white. The floors were uneven and creaky under the recently added carpets. There was no central heating and the bedrooms were cold except in summer, when the only air came in sporadic breezes from the open windows. The old bathroom with its high ceiling and walls lovingly papered with pretty rose wallpaper best seen from the deep, claw footed bathtub, was sandwiched between two of the four bedrooms and accessed through either. Warmed with a space heater and steamy from a bath it was a delightful, dreamy room.
The front porch had fallen into disrepair but it didn’t matter, everyone always used the side door anyway, with its long narrow porch facing south to catch the sun through the windows curtained in white sheers. The deep freeze stood on one end where, if you were good, you might get to pick out a frozen cupcake of cherry chip and pink frosting. You had to be careful of the corners by the inner, door, where black widow spiders sometimes liked to build their messy webs and had to be encouraged to leave with the brave, assertive application of a long-handled broom.
The best room was the kitchen, brightly lit it was and always full of wonderful smells and simple, familiar delights. There was whole milk in the refrigerator that had to be shaken so the cream would mix back into it, or skimmed off for hand-churned butter, eggs freshly laid that morning, always a pitcher of sweet iced tea and if you were lucky, a chocolate cream pie like none you’ve ever tasted, waiting for after dinner. On the counter stood the cookie jar that was always full. It was a warm and sunny room, that was always spotlessly clean and comfortably welcoming.
The house’s neighbors were the outbuildings of the old farm. Following the line of rose bushes sweetly scenting the shady backyard you came to the spidery, pump house, with its windmill slowly spinning in the breeze, which brought up the well water from deep under the earth. The cool first floor was given over to the storing of milk pails and other necessities of a dairy farm. The upper floor once had been a playhouse for little boys. The lower stairs had been removed so little sisters could not climb up.
There was an old shed built of cinder blocks, where tractors, farm equipment, trucks and cars of various make and age had sheltered over the years. Smelling of grease and gasoline and full of tools and farm implements, it was not a place for little girls in Sunday dress to explore. It stood on the other side of the dirt driveway that surrounded the house like a gentle hug. Next to the shed was the chicken coop, with its little yard surrounded by a chicken wire frame and a little door for the chickens to come and go thorough. The windows were wire framed and had shutters that could be opened during the warm days and closed for the cold nights. It was full of clucking pullets or cheeping chicks and the smell of grain in the long trough.
Dominating the yard was the towering barn, where the fragrant hay stood in tall stacks, waiting to become a fort, a castle or a wonderful place for a rollicking game of hide and seek. It was built of wood, now weathered and gray, with three areas for different needs of the farm. A place to stack wood waiting to be put to good use, the hay meant for the feeding of the cows and the stalls where the big, slow cows came in to have a munch of hay while they waited their turn to be milked. Behind the barn was a corral full of mud and muck and beyond the fields of alfalfa or watermelons stretched under the summer sun. Beyond the field was the vineyard belonging to the neighboring farm with a dirt track separating the two.
Across the narrow road in front of the house lay the irrigation ditch, a very dangerous open ditch even when it was dry and empty, that must be avoided by little ones and prudent dogs. The front yard once had two tall palm trees on either side. They had been cut down to stumps, which were great for climbing on and using as a “safe” place during a game of “you’re it”. It had been a throne for a king or queen, a lectern for speeches, a good place for target practice with the BB gun and even a lookout for enemy soldiers. Along the horseshoe-shaped dirt driveway next to the field stood orange trees ripening in the hot summer sun. Past the green grass lay the garden, full of fresh and lovely vegetables to be canned and preserved.
The old, white farmhouse was a place of warmth, family and love. A place to shelter knowing you would always be welcome. A place of solace and peace where you would be spoiled and pampered. A place to gather, to eat, to play, to laugh, to hold in the mind long after it had gone and return to only in fondest memory.