|“Everyone has a Home-Ground. They should remember it and tell others about it.”
Les Booth ©2010; painting, Kispoix Steelhead Camp ©2010 Diane Michelin
A slight, barely perceptible, rustling of pages lightly disturbed the afternoon silence. Dust particles danced in the sunbeam sneaking past years of unwashed dirt on the attic window. The rustling continued.
Not rhythmic in movement, just the occasional perception of sporadic movement. It was, however slight, deliberate. Someone – or something – was moving the papers and he heard it.
Quiet as the mouse he thought may have been disturbing his personal treasures, he crept past the old steamer trunk and around the gun cabinet.
Just as he rounded the far corner of the bookcase, filled with the bound volumes echoing their former owners peaked interest, and amid his plans for how he would dispatch this unknown invader… he saw the shadow.
He stopped, dropped and lay perfectly quiet. Carefully listening; trying to hear anything above the pounding, rhythmic thud of his little heart!
It wasn’t the mouse he’d been expecting. It was much larger. Who – or what! – could possibly be in his attic? Bothering his precious stuff? This was not good. He’d have to sneak back downstairs and get reinforcements.
“OK Wyatt. I know you’re up here. Come on over, I have something to show you.”
At the sound of the familiar voice he broke into one of his million-dollar-grins; punctuated with deep dimples, a pronounced chin cleft, and flashing blue eyes.
“Grama! What are you doing in my attic? I thought you were a mouse.”
Running around all the dust covered relics the little guardian pounced into his Grama’s lap and into another welcome moment in family history.
Within microseconds there commenced an amazing ballet. The juggling of energetic little boy and precious papers without damaging spirit or structure of either was quite the sight to behold. All done amid giggles, gleeful shouts and grandmotherly coos.
Nearly as fast as the little tornado has erupted, he had been subdued and Grama had caught her breath. All was again quiet. All, except the now Amazonian flow of dust – gorging through the sunbeam in the wake of the ‘little tornado’.
“So what are you doing up here Grama?”
“Well… I come up here every so often to go through these old treasures and get back in touch with some parts of history I really like to keep close to my heart.”
“You keep treasure in your heart? That’s silly Grama. You make me laugh.” Another Wyattism had been unleashed and they were both into a good, long laugh.
Finally, she took her little buddy in her arms and whispered in his ear,”I have a story for you. Do you want to hear it? Now?”
“Oh, youbetcha Grama! I love your stories. They’re just awesome”, Wyatt gushed.
As her joyful smile grew, moistening at the eye line from the pleasures of grandchild-presence, she hauled him up onto her knee, moved a few papers, and opened a large, old book.
“Wyatt, this is a photo album…”, Grama began.
“Oh, like mommy and daddy have of pictures mommy takes?”
“Yes. Just like that. Only this one… is from a long, long time ago. It was started by my great-grandmother and has been handed down over the years to all the oldest daughters in the family.”
“My great-grandmother and great-grandfather both thought it was very important that some things our family did – especially those things we did… as a family – should be passed on to the younger members. My father told me that his father said these things were, ‘family treasures’.
You know, the way Grampa likes to tell you stories from when he was a little boy?”
“Oh yeah! I really like Grampa’s stories. Especially the ones about the Gar people. I wanna go look for them. He said we could go soon as the weather warms.”
“He’s really looking forward to that, too. Say, do you want to know a secret – about the Gar People?”
“SURE! A secret about the Gar People. Cool! What is it?”
“The story about the Gar People – the very same one that Grampa tells you – he heard it first, from his mother; your great-grandmother Mary. So that story, is one of the ‘family treasures’ that have been passed down for several years. He told it -many times! – to your daddy.”
“Wow! So Grampa’s mommy told him the story about the Gar People? Did he tell you the story?”
“Yes he did. I head the story from your Grampa when he told it to your daddy. That story and many others your Grampa tells have become our ‘family treasures’, too.”
For the next hour, the two of them were huddled over the photos, cards, drawings, newspaper and magazine clippings and other paraphernalia they discovered, tucked away between the heavy stock sheets of the photo album. The questions came rapid fire from the inquisitive little mind. Each one was answered with calm, loving care. Each moment filed neatly away for days when a spot of sunshine would be needed. Hidden treasures in the making.
As one page opened, little Wyatt exclaimed, “Grama!! Whose fishing waders are those? Grampa’s? They look just like the pair he had on last summer when he took down to Pine Creek to fish.”
“Well they certainly do look like Grampa’s waders. But they aren’t Grampa’s waders. Those waders, belonged to my father. Sadly, you never got to know him. He died before you were born. Oh!, he’d have really like you and he’d also have liked taking you fishing just like your Grampa does. In fact, your Grampa and my Father were great fishing buddies. This very photograph of my daddy’s waders, was taken by your Grampa right after he and I met for the very first time. So this photograph is a special ‘family treasure’ for Grampa and me.”
“Oh. That was a long… l-o-n-g… time ago, wasn’t it Grama?”
“Yes, my little blue-eyed buddy, it was a long time ago. Yet, for me, it seems like just yesterday.”
“Were Grampa and your daddy fishing together? Were they fishing Pine Creek?”
“They were indeed fishing together, but it wasn’t on Pine Creek. They took a big trip back to my father’s ‘home ground’.”
“What’s home.. home .. grou…ground … home ground? What’s that?”
“Home-Ground is the place where you grow up learning about something important to you and to your life. Like Pine Creek is for your Grampa. Remember how he told you about the places he used to run, play and explore… when he was a boy… only a few years older than you?”
“Yes! I do! I really wish I lived on Pine Creek. I’d like to go fishing and running through the woods like Grampa did. He was really lucky back then.”
“He certainly was. That’s why he loves telling you – and others – about how important it is to remember your Home-Ground and to tell others – especially your family members.
Just like how you and your sister Sara and your daddy and your mommy, have stories, that your family is making.
Everyone has a Home-Ground. They should remember it and tell others about it.
That’s the kind of place – the Kispoix River, in British Columbia, Canada, where this picture was taken – was for, my daddy, your great-grandfather. The Kispoix River and the country around it, was your great-grandfather’s playground as a young boy. It had a real important part in making him such a fine person, a loving husband, father, grandfather… and I know if he’d have lived long enough.. an even more wonderful, great-grandfather to you and Sara.
That’s what a Home-Ground does. It has a very important role in building the kind of a person, those who live, work and play in it’s care, will become.
This picture has a great deal of ‘treasure’ in it for me. It reminds me of my daddy and just how much of a fun daddy he was. He really loved his grandson -your daddy, Luke – and loved to take him fishing any time he could. Fishing was a big, big thing in my daddy’s life. Just like it was for his daddy before him.
That’s why we keep this photo album in our family and bring it out to show the younger members of the family… like YOU.”
“Well, Grama, we need to do this more often! I really like it. And I know Sara will like it, too. Can mommy and daddy, come up here, in the attic, the next time we look at the photo album? Does Grampa come up here, too? Maybe we can have a picnic in my attic and look at all the pictures. Can we!?!”
“Well. I certainly don’t see why not. We’ll just have to make plans to do that real soon.”
The paper continued to rustle, the chatter bubbled on, for another 45 minutes before the little blond energizer, nestled into Grama’s comforting lap, nodded off to sleep. Fortunately the little man was still small enough for Grama to carry him, downstairs, to his room at, Grama’s Home.
As Grama quietly slipped out of his room, deep behind those dancing blue eyes, visions of the Gar People played on the stage of a rock strewn Gar Island. The retinal movie was liberally punctuated with giggles from the blond-haired boy, with dancing dimples, a dashing chin cleft and of course, those sparkling blue eyes.
He grinned and laughed in his slumber, for all the Gar People were dressed in waders, just like the ones in Great-Grampa’s photograph.