I’ve been visiting my family — my mother and three sisters and one brother — all of whom live close to our childhood home of 304 E. Newport Road, Lititz, PA.
This morning I took a walk along the linear park that runs through the meadow and along the creek of the land that was once the Snyder farm for many generations and then became the Hershey farm when my grandfather bought it from my Great-grandmother Snyder.
Later, my father bought the farm from his father. Eleven years after my father’s death my mother sold the farm to a developer. Houses sprang up where corn and alfalfa fields used to grow.
Fortunately, my mother, the developer, and Warwick Township came to an agreement that all feel good about today. In addition to houses, the land supports a walking/biking trail that leads through the old meadow, past a wetland region, and around a playground and several ball fields.
To Protect land is to protect memories
This morning’s walk allowed me to remember the way I would walk the same path along the woods through the meadow, bare feet carefully avoiding new cow piles, back in the early 1960′s. I was calling the cows to come to the barn for milking. My father taught me his chant. Every farmer has his own.
“Here, Hummy, Hummy, Hummy, Hummy, Hummy.”
The call is almost sung, and the note on the last syllable of Humm-y goes up.
Woods, Streams, and Meadow Sounds
It’s August, so the cicadas are raising their voices to the heavens, alternating as one tree gets loud and another subsides. The traffic on Newport Road is heavy now, so the world does intrude aurally on the walk.But the speeding cars are sometimes slowed by the clip-clop of horseshoes on asphalt as the Amish neighbors go by in their horse and buggy.
And oh those smells!
Lititz is known as a pretzel town and a chocolate town. When the wind is right, the chocolate smell travels all the way to the former farm. It might mingle with manure smells and honeysuckle, ozone before rain, and humus in the soil. Lititz is an earthy, sweet place.
With these sounds and smells enlarging the lovely landscape in front of me, I strolled along the meadow path. The sun was low in the east, fresh from sunrise an hour or so earlier, and therefore great for casting long shadows. I looked at the long, tall Shirley shadow crossing the path and took a picture. The wave was a gesture intended to call forth the child who loved the same land so many years ago. The child is sometimes bashful and often hidden from my view. Parker Palmer says the soul is like a wild animal.
I think I’ll call her now.
“Here, Hummy, Hummy, Hummy, Hummy, Humm-EEE.”
When is the last time you visited your childhood home? Is it still there? What sights, sounds, and smells do you remember from it?