Hunter Farm..being there as a parent…
Although I have a lot of strong memories as a kid growing up at the farm, I have a whole separate group of thoughts as a parent. We have lived in Central New York (up near Syracuse) ever since we have had children (1980 on). We have also always gone “to Henryville” for the majority of our vacation times, just as our parents had always brought us there from New York and New Jersey. We now own the house that was my parent’s. I have always felt that this was a great place to come and relax…and I shared all of the things I did and my younger memories with my kids ( well, almost all of them…).
We have always continued to have wooden blocks in the corner of the living room, just in case we wanted to build something; that is a tradition that will always continue. Even though I never learned the piano, the old black upright piano has always been there for the kids to wiggle and tinkle their fingers over the keys. Once in a while, we are even blessed with someone who actually can play the piano, like Jon … or Tom Salmon, or Ben… It always makes me think of my Mom, who would struggle along with playing different favorite hymns and then play charming children’s songs, one being ‘Mary had a little lamb’ … in a minor key… (She missed meeting my kids, by a little over a year, but being in Henryville has given the kids many clear connections to her.)
We have told our kids all about my growing up there in the house and on the Farm and showed them many of the special spots that are all over the area. They love Red Rock… (Thank you, Uncle David and family, for letting us all continue to enjoy that special spot) The lake and the woods all around are continued treasures, even though the dirt roads have been replaced and up-dated …so to speak….macadam/blacktop doesn’t give you the dust clouds, and the scuffling sound under your feet when you walk; those sounds are gone now. It makes the walks around the area different, with fewer turned ankles and less blown bicycle tires too. I miss the sounds of horses on the road….there are fewer horses around now as well, and a few too many fast cars, I might add.
The kids love the barns and the horses, although now we can no longer feed the horses …that’s ok…they are still great to see and pat….We can’t wander the barns the way I used to, but taking a quick glance through is enough for me to resurrect many stories to tell.
My kids are in their 20s now, but, over the years, they have always chosen to bring their friends ‘down to Henryville’ to spend weekends and longer….. The kids would inevitably do the block-building game in our living room (even when the kids were older… in college), and try to get the tower of blocks all the way to the very tall ceiling. Because we never had a T. V. there, we played a lot of board games and “dictionary games” and had lots and lots of great fires in the fireplace. And of course, there would be a campout in the living room with the kids dragging out mattresses and blankets so they could stay up most of the night together, talking and talking…. In warm weather, the sleeping bags would sometimes get dragged out to the fireplace “between the houses” where impromptu campouts would take place.
We have been a part of a number of weddings on the hill and that even adds more to their memories. When Dana was quite little, she told me she wanted to be married on the farm…but she wouldn’t reveal where..that was her secret… That may have now changed in her mind, but I wouldn’t count it out as a continued thought.
We have spent a number of Christmas mornings in our house there, after going out on one of the days before to find a perfect tree….always different, always with slight gaps in the branches somewhere…but always “very pretty.”
Many of our cats and dogs even have great memories too…but they don’t share them in the same way…. I know our dogs always loved the droppings that the horses left for them….they didn’t pay too much attention to the horses… …just what they left as gifts…. Our cats loved the mice…
Our present dog, Acorn, loves to try and catch the squirrels, but never has a prayer getting anywhere near them…
I’m not sure what season would be our favorite time to be there on the farm… I suppose we would all choose a different one…( I’m sure I couldn’t choose… I love them all).
Anyway, I’m sure my kids will sometimes add their thoughts to the Hunter Farm memory bag….. I hope all of you do too.
Joanne Shutt Weiss