Thursday, July 06, 2006

And memories of BIG Rocks

Today on the farm - Gwendolyn is staking a claim - "This is MY Bowl!",

Cimarron gets more handsome by the day!

And the baby swallows are out of the nest! Well not quite out - but at least on the edge...

My sister Merrill sends me the best stuff in the mail - she always sends me my friend Greg's articles from the Seattle Times-PI Sunday magazine - "Taste" and here and there she sends other things she thinks I might be interested in. Last week it was an article from the Wenatchee Daily World "GO!Magazine" called "A Town Stuck in Time" It was an article about Mansfield, the little town where I went to school and lived (in close proximity - we were 8 miles west of town) the first 18 years of my life. It was a funny and honest and sweet article and since it listed the reporter's email address, I emailed him, thanking him for the article - he wrote back - saying that he had enjoyed the people so much that he'd been back up three times since - Well, one email led to the next - I discovered that his daughter is going to Fairhaven College (my alma matter) and that he (Rick) actually worked construction on the college when he was going to Western in the late 60's. Then he said that he was doing another article on the Ice Age Floods Geological Tour & on the "haystack" rocks that dot the countryside up in Douglas county - I emailed back & asked if he had been to Boulder Park (a local geological anomaly). The next thing I knew he was asking if he could quote my sisters and me on some of my memories of playing around those big rocks? - Well this is kind of long - but here is my answer to him:

"Dear Rick:

You wrote:

"Regarding Boulder Park, I'd love to use a few lines in my story about how you and your sisters climbed those rocks as children and possibly about how your family farmed around those boulders. Would you mind? Do you have any other memories of growing up near Boulder Park? "

Hi - sorry to not get back to you sooner - Just getting back to my job has taken alot of my concentration right now -

We never actually were allowed to walk around in Boulder Park, because, that land belonged to another farmer - however we had our own little "boulder park" right in our front yard and up behind our home. Oddly enough, I don't have any "digital" pictures of our place, but in talking with one of my sisters, we agreed that most children growing up in the Mansfield area probably have memories of playing on the rocks (and the boys, as they got older, farming around them)

There was a scab patch (that's what my dad called the patches around the haystack rocks) that had two or three "kitchen sized" rocks (or so it seemed when I was a child - I haven't been out to it in about 25 or 30 years) probably 100 yards or so from our front door - the bigger one could be a pirate ship, or a bus, or sometimes just what it was - a really good climbin' rock - I'm not sure why but we spent a lot of time out on that particular rock - (perhaps it was proximity to the house & bathroom - you boys have all the advantage there...)

But, there also is a butte behind our place about the size of a football stadium - we called it "the cliff" growing up - It is composed of the same haystack rock material pushed into a HUGE dirt hill - probably dropped there when the glaciers melted. Anyhow, there are places up on the top where my dad & his siblings had played (in the 1920's & 30's) - placing rocks into outlines of walls, to form "rooms" - over the years, my sisters & I played in these "rooms" too - If you'd like to put on your best "11 year old" hat (ie - pretend that you are a kid again, not that you're wearing an old hat...ha, ha) you have my invitation to go up to the ranch (please call Doug Tanneberg for access so he doesn't call the sheriff on you) and take a walk up on "the cliff" - you can see clear to Canada from up there - I'm sure I imagined I could see clear to Spokane and far places to the east, - but I was always kind of directionally challenged, - I do believe you can see Mansfield from up there tho.

There is a chair shaped rock up there that we all spent many hours sitting and "contemplating" - it is so quiet up there you can hear the flies buzz. You could watch the jets fly overhead and wonder where they were going - maybe wishing that day, that you were going there too. (Be sure to wear long pants & long sleeved shirt to keep the ticks away) In the spring the top of the cliff is a great place to find wild flowers too - Bird bills, Yellow bells & Baby faces - maybe bluebells if you are lucky enough to stumble on to a patch.

Well, didn't mean to ramble - like I said, I'm not sure that my memories would be any different than any other child growing up on that plateau - but it was a great place to grow up - I'm always glad to see that Mansfield is still doing well enough to keep the school going - that is when a town loses it's heart, when the kids are shipped off to other communities to go to school.

You take care - keep writing those great articles - I'm looking forward to the one on the Missoula floods - If your daughter gets tired of dorm food - have her give me a call - she can come out and visit our little farm here in B'ham (just a small flock of shetland sheep and a couple of chickens, nothing fancy).


Tina Thomsen-Park"

Like I said, oddly enough, I have no digital pictures of the area where I grew up, but here's my sister Merrill in the kitchen of our little house up at "the Ranch" Like I said, I have no digital pictures of the area - so I can't share them with you - I'm hoping we'll make it over there in the fall.

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