Friday, May 25, 2012

Once Again, Memorial Day

Who were they? I found the names of these pioneers on the abstract for the land on which my home is built.
James A. Ames, a farmer.
Mary Jane Ames, nine years older than her husband, yet arriving here seven years later to join him at Silent Hill.
I have no photos of them, no stories.
James Michener told us in Centennial that "Only the rocks live forever."
If that is true, the land remembers the Ames family.
The sky could tell their story.
They made their mark on the land by planting the tree claim.
The sky might tell us that they planted the patch of rhubarb in the yard.
According to the land abstract that I perused, they arrived here in 1889 to claim this land.
They might have come by covered wagon, as many pioneers did. A real Conestoga wagon, not a toy.
Perhaps their belongings were packed in a trunk like this one, but not this trunk.
This week a bird was singing in a tree above the rhubarb patch. I wondered if descendants of the Ames family would ever knock on the door here and want to remember.
The few pieces of old machinery that have escaped the scrap iron heap are not from the Ames tenure. Nothing is the same as it was when they sold out in 1927, the year of Mr. Ames death.
The grandchildren, however great, could press a leaf from an original tree in their genealogy book
Or be satisfied by pulling some rhubarb from the patch.
 I learned from my Great Aunt Iris that the Ames family had only a daughter. Victoria Ames, was a beautiful teenage girl who rode the horse drawn school bus with Iris about a hundred years ago. Victoria had no children. Nearly 107 years old now, Iris remembers. No heir, apparently. Yet the land continues.
I picked the rhubarb.
And cut off the tops while wearing a winter jacket in the cold May morning. The wind was sharp and the sky was cloudy as it often is on a May morning in GriggsDakota. It blew from the sky when the Ames family tended this yard, as well.
Did Mary Jane Ames have a pump in her kitchen? Probably not, her wash water came from bucket to basin to wash the rhubarb stalks.
The Ames family surely enjoyed jams and sauces made from rhubarb grown in this yard a hundred years ago.
Next winter, when the rhubarb plants are frozen and the patch is snow covered, my family will enjoy pies and muffins made with rhubarb that I prepared and stockpiled in our freezer. 
So it may be in a hundred years, with another family enjoying rhubarb treats.
I think that is how the rocks live forever. People come and go on this earth, but the land and sky remember. We are once again cooking scalloped potatoes and ham in big roasters for a dinner at the auditorium. Profits go to Cemetery upkeep. The Veterans will be served first.
Have a Happy Memorial Day.

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