There was a chair in my grandparents’ house. It was a nondescript stool with a square burgundy seat mounted on four iron legs. It was the kind that you could spin in circles. You could push off with your feet or lay face down across it and turn, walking the circle with fingertips to the floor.
I spent a lot of childhood in that house. One warm summer evening, while Grandpa was in the milkhouse and Gran was making Jersey milkshakes for after chores, I sat on that stool and watched Silent Running, a 1972 environmentally-themed American post-apocalyptic science fiction film starring Bruce Dern. I sobbed as Earth’s last forest traveled out of reach.
As a teen, I sat in Gran’s kitchen and bit my nails while she talked with a caller at the back door. The visitor wanted to buy the property located a mile east of the farm, the 50 acres of woods and stream where Grandpa pastured senior calves in summer. I knew they could use the funds from a sale. I was so afraid that this last forest would be gone.
“No thank you. We don’t wish to sell it,” she said to this offer and to many others.
Carl and Joyce Seitz were my grandparents. My grandfather was a dreamer; a handsome rake who was a lover of books. He was a college graduate, but the farm fell to him while the country was dealing with depression and world war. He would drive a tractor and whistle. My grandmother, a college grad, too, was a stylish beauty who became a farmer’s wife. They raised eight children in that farmhouse. In the warm months, the family sometimes picnicked along the creek that flowed through that 50 acres to the east. In winter, they skated on the old flooded stone quarry there.
For as long as I can remember, that place has been called “The Quarry Farm.”
We lost Grandpa 25 years ago. Today, we lost Gran. Because they both valued the black walnut, maple and oak trees that grow here, the dogtooth violets, mayapples, bloodroot and spring beauties on the ridge and in the floodplain–because they were educators and dreamers–The Quarry Farm is still here.
During a trip home from university, one of my uncles looked out the kitchen window in time to see Gran hand-feeding a skunk. Two weeks ago, I took Sebastian the Skunk to visit her. Gran would have celebrated 101 years in November, but she was sharp as a tack and delighted in ‘Bastian as well as what we do here.
Chryssy the Cat climbs on my lap now. She shared that farmhouse, the one where we all climbed trees, made mud pies, collected fireflies in a jar, photographed migrating monarchs in the trees, and where our Gran worked art in her kitchen while teaching us to reach for the whole world outside.
9 thoughts on “when the trees are sobbing faintly”
What a delightful soul, truly some light gone from the world. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Beautifully said. She was your Gran, but she she had a part of our hearts as well. She was quite an amazing lady. I said that all the time. Not much got by her, and thanks to all if you, she missed very few events.
She may no longer be here physically but her spirit will be present everywhere. Quite a lady, she will be missed.
I’m proud to say that I have many of those same memories. The family farm and Quarry are my favorite places on earth. I miss them both.
Andy, you are a part of all of it. I hope you continue to be. She wanted that more than anything, I think, the connections, I mean.
Anne this is so beautiful and very fitting. She goes to a place of great beauty to see children and her husband… and many friends. How wonderful is that? We are blessed by knowing her and enriched by loving her. Godspeed, Gran. Paradise Found.
Oh yes. Thank you, Angie.
Anne, this is so heart felt and eloquently written. Your grandmother was a wonderful and beautiful lady. I am so glad that my children were able to meet her, and share just a little bit with her. She will always be part of the wind that blows through those trees, the ripple of white caps flourishing through that bend in Riley Creek, and a part of my memories of a church family that has held strong for the ages.
I am so sorry, Anne. She was an amazing person and was an inspiration to us all.