My wife is in a constant battle with some health concerns and has been fighting the good fight since Christmas. But last night she said, “for some reason I feel better now.”
Today, rather than send me downtown to pick up some groceries she bundled up with great cheer and joined me. We got some provisions for this frigid weekend and beyond, then drove out to the farm. It’s a somewhat sunny day but below zero and the wind is a fright. But we were dressed for the weather and in a somewhat reliable Mercury Land Yacht (TM), so we had no concerns for a quick drive in the country.
Just across the corner from where the Johnson farm begins, a stone house stands on a hill, commanding an impressive view of the countryside. You can even see our small town from there. It was built by a country doctor sometime in the early 1900s but the last family that lived there abandoned it in the Depression. My aunt remembers visiting them.
I wonder how people did it back then. The walls of that house are thick and were probably decent protection against our brutal winters. The homesteaders, like my grandparents, had it much worse. My grandma had her own homestead. One hundred and sixty acres of farmland on which she had a sod house. For those unfamiliar with the concept, out here on the prairie a log cabin was not feasible because there were just no logs. The settlers would cut long strips of sod in the prairie and stack it to build the walls of houses and even outbuildings. I cannot imagine the intestinal fortitude it took to do this, to persevere. My grandmother was not a forbidding figure by any means and she brushed off any such notions that her time on her own land was tough. She did have relatives nearby but remember, there was no electricity out here then, no phones, certainly no internal plumbing and yes, there were just outhouses. Ugh.
The stone house is beginning to cave in on the north side but I suspect it will stand for at least another decade. A tornado or a fire could end it but the odds of either are unlikely. No, one day that north wall will finally give in, bringing down the roof and then the other walls will join in. But as for now it stands as a lone monument to perseverance in the face of cruel winters and changing fortunes. This land has seen plenty of both over the years. So have Carjo and I. We take the good days and savor them. That’s how you get through the melancholy winter.