Monday, February 4, 2013

Latham Family Adventures: The Farm

     The Little Lathams loved running and playing all over our 20 acres of Ozark country. In the process, they found a few spots that were just so amazing! One of these places was quite a distance from our house. We came across it while on a family hike exploring the property.
      We were deep in the woods. It was dark and cool there, even in the heat of summer. The trees and vines were beautiful and mysterious. The kids scampered about hopping up on stumps and fallen trees. They called to each other pointing out forest treasures and  the occasional wild critter. Then suddenly, we stepped from one magical world into another. A small clearing opened up before us.
     We hadn’t noticed, but our hike had been taking us up a gentle slope so that we ended up on  the top of a hill. The children fell silent as they stepped into the sunshine and looked around. Then the spell was broken as they scattered to explore the place. It was a pretty meadow, circular in shape and sprinkled with wild flowers. The interesting part for the Little Lathams was the area around the edge of the clearing where the trees grew thin.  It looked as if giants had played a game of dodge ball and left rocks strewn about as evidence.  Some were as big as boulders, embedded in the ground and surrounded by smaller rocks forming little nooks and hiding places. The kids loved it and didn’t want to leave that afternoon.
     They went back the next day and many days after. They began calling their special place “The Farm”. Finally, one day, I was invited on a hike up to see what they had been doing. As we neared the clearing, I saw what looked like a miniature homestead. The children had built rock walls, a foot high, marking off different areas of the farm. There was the outline of a cottage, garden, and various out buildings. As they took me on a tour, I was amazed to see all the details the farm hands had included.  A stove in the kitchen, stacked fire wood, a chicken coop (complete with nesting boxes) and even garden tools were all there!

     Nestled in the dappled shade, it looked homey and inviting. Everything was fashioned from materials found there in the clearing. The colors and shapes blended naturally to make the Farm look as if it were part of the landscape. The children used sticks, branches, vines, dirt and so many of those amazing Ozark rocks.  

      Gardeners and farmers in our part of the world cursed the rocks each spring, as a new crop rose from the earth to be toted away before planting could take place. But on this day, I was grateful for those rocks and the little hands that used them to make something so beautiful.