"Someone was happy there once." Grandma used to say that every time we drove past an abandoned farmstead. And now this is the lane into her abandoned farmstead. Someone was happy there once and once a year we gather for a happy "Woodstock" weekend with family, children, and pets, remembering the grandparents who loved us and the happy times from our childhood. My grandparents lived on a farm just a mile or so down the road from the farm where I grew up. They raised nine children on that farm and lived to see 38 grandchildren and more 'greats' than I want to try to remember or name. After my grandparents died, my dad bought their farm and for about 13 years now, all the cousins have celebrated Memorial Weekend with a camp out at the old home place. Campers and tents dot the property, and we gather around a campfire for communal hot dog roasts. The creek was a big drawing card for us when we were kids, and the next generation seems to enjoy it, as they spend most of their time fishing or catching frogs and tadpoles. One year they even made a rope swing which kept the swimmers at the creek for hours. There are a few pyromaniacs (seems to be a genetic thing) who spend most of their time tending the camp fire. On Sunday, a lot of the non-campers arrive for a potluck dinner at noon. The camp out chefs (they do breakfasts, too!) have supplied us with ribs, chicken, hamburgers or brats for a main course, all grilled on a huge smoker/grill provided by a local company my uncle works for and secures for us. One of the aunts has a huge ice cream freezer on wheels that she pulls behind her car. So our weekend usually ends with homemade ice cream!
I have often wished that we had done this before my grandmother died. How she would have loved having all of her family gathered at the old home place! Beer drinking aside, she would have been thrilled to see the next generation enjoying the family farm. I can imagine my grandfather might have been more concerned with how we were "tearing up the darn place," but I'm sure that in spite of his grumbling he would be proud to know that their farm is still such an important place to all of us.
As for music at this Woodstock, once in awhile a cousin drags out a guitar. But for the most part, all you hear are frogs and crickets and lots of laughter and conversation late into the night.