Granddad and Cricket
By Renee Painter
For as far back as my memory reaches, visions and memories of Granddad and his farm will always be with me.
Take a look around…just after turning onto the dirt drive and just beyond the gate with the cowbell, sits the little 2-bedroom house. To the left of it was a smaller house that I believe was for guests, but I never really knew and still don’t to this day. Across the drive was an old wooden cattle shoot overgrown with grass and weeds; the sun had set on it long ago. Just down from the cattle pen was the old barn that seemed so big and scary to me. It was not very safe the adults said because it could fall down and it had mice in it. I wonder if all that was true or just a really good way to keep all of us kids out of there. And best of all, beyond all of this was the gate that leads to a piece of my Granddad’s land that seemed to go on forever. No running water, no bathroom facilities, just a plain simple home…the best kind and a place where some of my best memories were born.
This was the home of my Great Grandmother and Great Granddad. But I just called him Granddad and my Great-grandmother I never met because she had went to Heaven a year before I was born.
Granddad had nicknamed my sister and me, he called Crystal “ladybug” and he named me “cricket”. I can’t remember a time when Granddad called me anything except cricket and I loved that. I asked my mom one day when we looked back in time and were talking about the farm how Granddad came to nickname me Cricket. She said she could see it so clearly as if it was just yesterday. I was just a baby and granddad was holding me and bent down to putt my legs into the water of the pond on the hill place, I was pulling my legs up and down and my granddad laughed and said I looked just like a cricket. He said, “that’s what I’m going to call her…cricket”, and from that day forward that was my name when I was with my Granddad.
I was very fortunate to have spent some time on the farm with granddad. I have stayed there in the summertime when the air was so hot and so still it felt like you could not get a breath. And I have stayed there in the wintertime when we wished we had indoor plumbing!
One week in the summertime I went to stay at granddads with my grandmother. It was so hot one night that my grandmother and I had to take our bedding outside to sleep. The night was so magnificent!! We were lying there looking up into the night sky, the stars were so bright and there were so many there didn’t seem to be any space between them. It was so quiet you could hear all of nature in the night air and the drums of the Indian reservation in the distance. Even with all the spectacular wonderment around me I really worried about the wolves or coyotes that I was hearing howling in the distance! Grandma and I were lying there talking and looking at the stars and I was telling her that I was scarred, afraid that the coyotes would come and attack us. I can just here her laughing and laughing now. She told me not to worry, and that they were more afraid of us and just as she said that my granddads dog approached us and scarred the daylights out of me. My grandmother was laughing so hard that I too started laughing. I think we laughed ourselves to sleep that night.
I think that was the summer that I got to go with my Granddad to harvest the wheat he was growing on a piece of land he leased from a neighbor. He said “come on Cricket, hop up there into the bed of the truck”, and there I stood as the tractor followed beside us with the wheat pouring into the bed of the truck. After all the wheat was harvested he and I headed to the silo to deliver the wheat. I remember as we approached the silo I was a little scared because I did not see how we were going to drive into what seemed like two tall little cylinders. Granddad just laughed and of course as we got closer it became clear that our truck could fit in there after all.
One winter my Grandmother, sister, cousin and I were spending what was supposed to be a weekend at granddads farm but it snowed so much that we were snowed in and could not get the car out to go home. We had a lot of fun that weekend playing in the snow. While we were outside playing one day in the snow we noticed these strange small markings in the snow. We ran inside to get granddad to find out what these were. After coming outside to examine these markings he told us they were Indian markings. We were scarred to death!! And he just laughed and laughed. We were afraid to go back out for the longest time, which was just fine with grandma because she was tired of us coming in and out. One time she was so mad at us for tracking snow into the house she stormed off to the chicken coup to use the restroom and the snow was so deep, one minute she was on top of the snow and the next she was knee deep it. We laughed so hard. That weekend a neighbor from a nearby farm came to pick us up on his tractor to drive us to town where my mom and dad were meeting us to take us home so that grandma could go to work that Monday. Grandma sat towards the front of the tractor and Crystal, Kim and I sat on a couple of bails of hay on the back of the tractor all the way to town, now that was an adventure!
God is so good!! I am thankful for these gifts in life. I think of the times like these that our kids miss. Wide open spaces, simple adventures, looking up into the sky with no light pollution to see the wonder of God, simple quiet times with loved ones. In my mind I walk the land with its stillness and my heart is glad.
All I've ever thought about and dreamed about, was being an artist and painting.