Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lessons Learned Thanks To Grandpa

Grandparents have been described as "one of nature's way that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us." (Igor Stravinsky). I know this is to be true. Time spent with my grandparents gave me a wonderful foundation for my family history research.  But in the midst of  recounting the names and stories of ancestors I discovered lessons learned from my grandparents.

My mother was an only child, her parents knew each other all their lives and married when they both were well in to their 20s: they were married ten years before my mother was born. When they became grandparents, it was apparent their granddaughters were going to be the center of their world.

Some of my fondest memories are of the times I spent on my grandparent's dairy farm. Learning how to call in the cows for milking, riding along with Grandpa on the tractor while he mowed, tapping maples in the spring and cooking down the sap to make syrup, picking hazelnuts and butternuts in the fall, catching night crawlers to fish. My grandmother shared her love of history and books - my grandfather his love of nature. Both gifts I still carry with me today.

Fast forward forty years: our family vacation home, a four-season log 'cabin' located on the original dairy farm where I spent my childhood years remains the place central to my life. Earlier this month my family gathered for the 9-day gun deer season at our cabin, a tradition I know my grandfather would have been pleased to know was being carried forward. Hunting was a major part of my grandfather's life; being out in woods with friends who also looked forward to time spent "at deer camp."  He lived long enough to see his grandson-in-law establish shared hunting traditions at 'the farm' and his great-grandson's first hunting seasons. I wish he had lived to see his oldest granddaughter shoot her first buck.

Wisconsin Gun Deer Season, November 1945. Harley Space far left in black/white coat. Digital Image.
Original photograph privately held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. 2010

Recently a friend lamented the coming of winter, in addition to the cold, chapped hands and lips, she said she "hated that there was no color in the world" until spring. While walking out of my deer stand, I was struck by the beauty of the woods: the many shades of brown in the leaves covering the ground, remnants of last night's sleet among the moss on an oak tree, ferns refusing to relinquish their grip even in the midst of snow. I can hear my grandfather's voice pointing out the beauty of 'the out of doors."

Thank you Grandpa.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

1 comment:

Carol said...

Lovely photos, great family story.


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