*Age 8 – THE PEACEFUL DAY (letter)

May 27, 1960

[letter written by my mother to her mother]

Dear Mother,

Return this letter please

Well, I haven’t decided all the way yet but I have decided to dispense with the Nursery for the remainder of the summer.  We not only want to live on the homestead but we have so much work to do there we have to be there and there isn’t enough reason to commute now.  Then too I find it much more difficult to take care of children in the summer with my own home!  I don’t act the same with my own when they’re around [L:  Interesting statement!] and John especially is bored here – Nothing is worth that price.  Today is their last day.

Now I’ll go on from here!  If we move out then I’m about even for the summer as if I’d kept the [log] house – financially that is!  I might decide to sublet it and have written her for permission!  “What will be, will be!”

The road is still in progress but I’m still not letting myself believe yet.  Bill worked on it Sat. and Sun. he and John laid it out where he wanted it in the first place.  If it does get built, it will be wonderful.  They corduroyed all the marsh area with trees and branches and it’s flat this time so it will hold.   [she drew a sketch] [grandma wrote a note on the paper here – “Wish this had been done last year”]  Then Wed. a ‘loader’ and big tractor and Bill and our tractor put dirt all over that –

Yesterday Bill took off from work too and he walked our tractor over road He laid out and big tractor followed behind up to Easterly’s.  Now the path is open and the road will be built!!  Oh Mom, I daren’t believe – not yet, not yet!  It’s been too hard and I’m numb.

Our old road, of course, is impassable.  Enormous pieces of earth, trees, boulders and all have caved in – we walk on the banks.

Easterlys moved in their cabin on May 25th and she’s painting, making curtains, etc.  A big squirrel really made a mess of their place this winter.  He scattered food all over and tore big holes in the mattresses too.  She says she isn’t leaving until she can ride down.  They certainly are serious about all this and that big ‘cat’ cost 25.00 an hour!!!  He says he’ll sell everything he owns if he has to!!

I didn’t go to the homestead last week-end as this place really needed my attention.  I worked here all week-end while Bill road built.  Then Mon. it seemed months since I’d been up there.  I can’t explain how lonesome I get for that place.  So when Bill got home I had a picnic packed and we were all set to go.  We ate back there and it was miserable.  The mosquitoes came out about 7:00 and they were so thick we couldn’t enjoy anything!!

Then we walked up and Mom the mosquitoes covered us – in places we had to climb over fallen trees and through musky marsh.  I was trying to carry boiled drinking water and in one place I stumbled and my precious water fell all over and got me wet and my precious water.  [Grandma wrote a note on margin:  “I’ll see about mosquito stuff”]

Well, we finally got there and as usual it was worth it.  The sun was setting in glorious splendor and the mountain tops were splashed with pink.  I felt small to complain about mud when such glory always awaits us.  Oh, how I love that place!

The weary children came to life and played outside awhile and then happily to bed.  At 3:00 o’clock the birds woke me up – such songs – they never sing at the log house – never – I wonder why?  But oh, such songs.  There’s one special bird that we love and it’s song is one of sweet love – [Linda:  We called this ‘the homestead bird’.  I will never forget the sound of its song.]

Well, I lay there until 4 – so I wouldn’t oversleep and it was so light out I was wide awake.  Then when the alarm didn’t go off at 4:00 I thought I’d cat nap until it did and never woke til 7:00 and Bill should leave the Nursery for work at 7:00 and Debra comes at 7:15!

The truth I believe is that I wanted to stay there.  Well, we got up and left.  When we got to the log house Bill remembered that he forgot to turn off the gas stove and left the tea kettle on!!  Oh Mom, in my mind’s eye I could see our precious place [hut!] burning to the ground as our neighbor’s did.  I had to see!  Bill said if it was to burn it would already have burned down!  (awful thought)  He went to work.  I had planned to get the children at Chrons but couldn’t’ rest a minute.  So I asked her to keep them [the nursery kids] and decided we’d walk back – hoping to get a ride.  I know it sounds crazy but I had to know!!

We left the house here around noon and got back to Ecklund’s, when Bill arrived from work, about 6:15 [on his way to the homestead]  We might as well have waited.  We didn’t ride then but finished walking.  We walked 1st to Bells on Eagle River road and then Mrs. Hahn road us to end of the road [where the bus turn-around was].  We walked all the rest of the way.  Nobody passed us until about 4 o’clock and that was a truck with 2 men in it!  We stopped numerous times, rested often, and really had a very nice time.  We could really appreciate the flowers, the swollen river and all much more than when we ride – and we were never afraid.  Oh, how we’ve changed.

[Linda note:  I have never forgotten this day as the best entire day of my childhood.  I am glad to find her reference to it in this letter so now I know exactly when it happened.  If one can imagine a day of being snatched from one’s ongoing life and plopped into the Garden of Eden to spend a day leisurely meandering in its perfect, pristine beauty, you can catch a glimmer of what this day felt like to me at 8 years old.  It was a vacation like we’d never had before and never had after.  It was a peaceful day, in spite of how it had started, and I was at peace.

Mother knew there would be nothing she could do to change what had or not happened up the mountain that day.  We were simply walking, and as we did so the absolute perfection of the natural world we were passing through touched us and healed us in some important way.  At least it did me.  I breathed its beauty.  I absorbed it into my eyes, into the pores of my skin, up through the soles of my feet.  And on that day I felt like a part of my family.  It was a day of pure joy that I can return to in my memory, and I cherish it.  I suppose for most children a day of trauma would be most memorable.  For me, it was this exceptional day of love, beauty and peace.]

I can remember being afraid to sit outside of the car when you were here 2years ago and we went back there [into the valley] and the car stalled!!  (I could write a book about that trip) but the children are here and I must close.

Next day we stayed up there and Bill took John and left saying he thought he’d be back in 4 hours and it was over 11 before he was.  John was dead tired (fell asleep in the chair) sunburned but happy.  He rested an hour and we left to come back here [to the log house] as we had no food and not water.  (We’d been rationing 2 week old water all day – ugh!)  We got back here at mid-nite!

Thursday and Friday (today) and I have the [nursery school] children.  Write soon, Love, me

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

See the rest of mother’s letters here

PRESENTING THE HOMESTEADING

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