The Farm on Rabbit Run or the Klondike
A half-mile lane called “Rabbit Run” by some and “The Klondike” by others bordered our farm on the north. Many secondary roads had personalized names in Iowa since no official numbers existed. We were surrounded with timberland. Rabbits, squirrels, deer, and ducks were plentiful on our farm. With our livestock, garden, and wild game, there was never a reason to go hungry.
The lane from our house to the Prairie Grove Road (Beaverdale Road) was dirt and impassable after a rain. The other half of the lane from our house to the Danville/Yarmouth Road was gravel and always accessible except during heavy snows.
I returned to my childhood home in 2014 and stood on the top of a wobbly stile that provided our family’s passage from our yard to the fields north of the house. It was a wooden construct that allowed us to pass over a fence without having to open a gate. Mom insisted the wood be stained redwood every three to five years to conserve its beauty and match the picnic table that sat closely in the yard. Mom quietly taught us to leave wherever we lived in a better condition than we found it. That priority of stewardship of resources sank deeply into my priorities and I have always tried to make improvements where I have lived. The four foot square platform at the very apex provided enough space where a person could stand and peruse a full 360 degrees.
A Variety of Stiles
After fifty years of decay our stile will barely sustain my weight and is now a dull gray from the rain, snow, and sun. I was about to open a box that had rested untouched for more than fifty years. It was a wonderful experience that provoked pain, tears, smiles, buried fears, crazy laughs, competitive thoughts, family tales, but mostly positive nostalgia. I was amazed at the vitality of what I saw and how I saw it—everything I viewed was because of the etching of the past on the cells of my brain. I am one of the lucky ones born in the 40s that can still remember many details from the past.
This stile provides the best view of the farm unless I climbed to the top of the windmill that still stands with no capacity to draw water. All the trees we planted for home beautification projects in 4-H have been cut down or died. But, with my eyes closed, I see much of what I have not recalled for fifty years. Quietly, I am transported backwards through time to my adolescence and then to my childhood. I see our first car, a 1949 two-tone green Chevrolet in our driveway. My memory takes me by 22 different homes in four states and three different countries on my way back to the first house I called home.