I was back in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin with my Mom for ten days in October, and another five in November. My husband teases that every time I go home, I’m like a broken record saying, “and this used to be a farm, and that used to be a farm.”
I cannot get the Pretender’s song “My City Was Gone” out of my head, as the lyrics perfectly describe how I feel.
“I went back to Ohio but my pretty countryside,
had been paved down the middle by a government that had no pride.
The farms of Ohio had been replaced by shopping malls,
and muzak filled the air from Seneca to Cayahoga Falls.”
Chrissie Hynde was singing about Akron, Ohio but the same could be said of so many towns across this country, and it can definitely be said of Madison.
Every time I go, I spend some time driving around the surrounding areas, looking for the farmland that used to surround our picturesque college town. The beautiful land that used to be corn fields (where I and generations of area kids worked every summer walking the rows de-tassling corn), or open farmland (where my friends and I used to ride our horses) has been developed into malls, condos, senior living communities and tame rural mansions. I know there are lots of efforts to save and restore the barns of Wisconsin, but I fear it may be a losing battle.
I took a few photos of old barns and homes on roads that used to be considered “out in the country,” but are now manicured and nicely paved.
I have a fantasy of moving back to Wisconsin some day and buying a small farm and restoring the house and barn to their original beauty.
I dream of setting out on the porch on warm summer evenings, watching the fireflies light up the low lying mist hanging over the fields.
I imagine having three or four dogs that trot around my heels as I roll open the barn door in the morning to feed my horses.
I yearn to walk under a silent and cold full moon as giant flakes during a big snow slowly fall and stick on my eyelashes and melt on my cheeks.
I know I will never move back to Wisconsin. My dreams are nostalgic and perhaps idealized memories of my youth. It’s really a time more than a place that I am seeking when I drive the country roads.
My mother-in-law and her family grew up in Springfield, Missouri and that town has gone through more than its share of development, but she sees it as progress, and a source of pride. I wonder if my feelings about my town’s rural farming past has something to do with my generation, or my sentimental nature, or a certain childishness on my part.
If you could move, where would you go? What are your favorite childhood memories? Did you move away or are you still living where you grew up? Do you ever long to return to your hometown? Did you grow up in the country, the suburbs or in a city? Tell me your stories.
A few links from around the web:
city.ballet is a very cool online documentary series on AOL that has 12 parts, and offers an intimate peek into the excruciatingly difficult world of dancing. I don’t really enjoy watching ballet, but this show really makes me appreciate it on whole new level.
Wanna get freaked out? Check out this graph of births and deaths around the world.
A great gift idea for someone who has everything, a custom house portrait.
All three of these soups sound fabulous, and the recipes all look easy!