Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to the Prairie..VII

Grandpa's Workshop

   Down the long gravel drive, past the sparse tree line it stood. Larger than life was the old metal shop building there near the garden plot. Positioned across from the barn and right next to 'the old house' it was once the center of operations when Grandpa ran a bulldozer business. In the days I spent with them it held the memories of days past and served as the place where all things were made new (or at least made to run gain). 
   On days when I just seemed to be in the way- treading under foot and on nerves - I'd slip down the way to the old workshop. The perfect hide-away from large gatherings (I have never liked big get together/reunion type things) the workshop was a place most of the family dared not enter, but I loved it- craved the scent of it and the hard-work, back-breaking life it stood for. 
   The far side of shop had a little door where I would slip in, stand reverently and breathe deep the fragrance of hard working hands. Grease and steel, concrete and oil..the old pot-bellied wood stove- such contentment and peace stirred my soul in ways indescribable. I loved it there.
   In the center of the shop stood an old Caterpillar- no longer in use - but monumental and grand. I loved to climb all over it's ridged rolling 'wheels', sit in the seat and envision farm hands driving over the land; clearing and moving, paving the way. Most summers there would be a mama cat tending a litter of kittens there under the seat. I took it as my personal mission to tame them and make sure they were well cared for. 
   Just over the side of the monstrous machine stood a desk; long forgotten--totally fascinating to a little budding farm-girl. My heart sang with joy as I slipped over and sunk down in the big desk chair. Squeaky and creaky it had wheels that I loved to roll and spin around it- no one there to tell me it wasn't proper to do so! Such a time I had looking at sales receipts, the desktop organizer, Rolodex (that was a thing!) and the office phone. 
   My curiosity would lead me further for all along the walls were parts and tools, pieces of this-n-thats from various machines, farm tools, and large equipment- greasy and grimy from work and wonder. Hours would be spent touching and turning over every little piece amazed at the wonder of what the purpose of each piece was or would be. 
   Sometimes Grandpa would slip and catch me 'playing 'round' in there. The twinkle in his eye and the whiskery grin on his face always told me he understood- he just knew. On colder days he would light the old stove, with out a word, to 'warm me up a bit'. Being in there with him just made it more wonderful. We could always be in the same place, sharing a moment, and never need to say a word. We were like that.
   One odd thing in the old workshop I never spoke of, nor mentioned out loud was the calendar. On the wall to the side of the desk was a calendar- such a curiosity- a scantily dressed woman; flaming red lips to match her wisp of gauzy clothing. Her dark glossy hair --- I always wondered about that; never asked a soul. I just imagined that must have reminded him of someone, maybe my grandmother in her youthful years. It was never changed, never taken down, just stuck on that same month for years and years. 

   Like all things, my adventure would end. I had to make my appearance back at the house. Outside the door was an old water pump..bless his heart, Grandpa would try real hard to help me get cleaned up a bit before the "women-folk" saw me...I was hopeless! Yet..he and I...we understood...a farm girl just has to be dirty.

  Those days are long gone for grandfather is no longer with us, but his old workshop stands. A testament to his life- hard and filled with work and dirt and struggle; the workshop is a treasured memory in my heart; a time of getting in touch with the man I deeply loved and was so close to. It is a precious travel in my memory of my life on the prairie.

Yes, my husband has an old workshop, too!