Grandpa Green, the landscape is a topiary garden filled with the memories of a great-grandfather’s life. Richly-hued chickens and carrots and trains and airplanes, gorgeously green soldiers and wedding cakes populate the garden. A topiary pathway through one man’s life.
I’ve been thinking about Grandpa Green this week as I spend the holiday break with my family at my parents’ farm. I’ve been thinking about how a life is reflected in the landscape it inhabits, how family is landscape…or perhaps how family becomes entwined with the landscape of a home.
When my two sisters, my brother and I were children, the farm was smaller. My parents’ bedroom was downstairs, right under all of ours. My father’s office was off of the hallway, and as we came in and out the main door we could look in and see him working (working working working…he was always working.) A small barn was on the hill above the house, where a few horses lived (and cows, too, for a short while, but that endeavor didn’t quite stick.) My mother was often planting or weeding in one of the gardens, us kids were playing ball or helping hay the fields or, most often, hanging out in the house, my father was…yes…working in that office.
As the years went by, the farm grew. My parents moved their bedroom upstairs to the opposite side of the house. The barn expanded as my sister’s horse training business bloomed. One of the hills behind the house was leveled for one, two, three wedding receptions. A track of dirt was created behind the house from countless baseball and soccer games played by—not us four kids—but the now seven grandchildren (and counting.) My parents dug a swimming pond above the barn where those grandchildren spend hours and hours during the summer. Donkeys live here now, alongside the horses. And sheep. And goats. And guinea pigs.
And my father moved his office. He still works (and works and works) but now he has more privacy from the packs of people who traipse in and out of the house.
The landscape of the farm has shifted and bent, expanded and been built upon—and our family has done exactly the same thing. The farm’s landscape is deep within me, and I know the same is true for my three siblings. And it is utterly gratifying and wondrous to me that we are deep within the landscape too.