The long prairie summer is slowly drawing to a close, I feel a chill in the evenings & know from my many years standing here that fall will return soon, followed by another long cold silent winter. Seems the For Sale sign that hung on my fence has been removed, lots of activity going on around me. Some strange man kindly removed the chicken wire that blocked my front porch, put there to guard against people who would try to enter. This same stranger had been inside, removing certain items. The old woodstove in my kitchen is gone now, as is the old kitchen table & chairs, even the old mantle clock that sat for many years, devoid of hands, frozen in time, is now gone. The other day there was a tremendous racket outside as a large steel machine with angry looking blades reduced some of the large old trees & bushes around me to sawdust, leaving my yard barren but for a few trees by the road. When I was young & my family first moved into me, they had carefully planted all these trees around me, one by one. I watched them grow over the years, providing shade for my family as well as myself, a place for the children to climb & play their childish games. I don't understand why they're gone now but I will miss them. Today was a glorious day with the sun shining, birds singing, light breeze blowing through my broken windows & my newly opened doors. I found myself thinking of my human family more than usual today, how I still miss them even after all these many years. I can still see their faces, I watched as the children grew up one by one, then came the day when they were all gone. They brought me pleasure over all the years they lived inside my walls but they also brought me great sorrow when they left me.
I had a tremendous suprise a few days ago when the stranger came to visit me again, yes the visitor from last winter & he brought his friend with him. What a pleasure to see them again. They moved silently from empty room to empty room, noticing the things that were missing, taken out by the strange man. They would say a few words to each other from time to time & I could hear the concern in their whispers. I sense something is wrong, their stay is not a long one & they're soon gone. I'm still thankful for the visit, no matter how short, I know they will return again. Early this morning, the man that's been around my property lately brought yet another heavy looking machine & parked it close to me. I thought to myself, he's already taken all the trees down around me. I sensed something different in this man. I saw no compassion, I felt impatience & anger from him when he was trying to remove the old fragile cook stove from my kitchen. He had no regard for most of the things in my rooms, impatiently rummaging through boxes, throwing most of it back in a heap, as if it was worthless to him. I did not like this man.
Slowly, this fine summer day gave way to evening, usually the time this strange man would leave my property. There he comes now, he's not getting into his usual truck but into this contraption he has parked beside me. He starts the machine up & it belches a plume of black smoke into the air. I can see him maneuvering large levers inside the cab of the machine, setting the large steel tracks in motion. There is a large arm attached to the machine which he raises and slowly the tracks of the machine turn the whole contraption till it sits within 5 feet of my front door. the large steel arm hovering over me. I sense danger & I look into the eyes of this man but he gives away nothing in his blank stare. Then it happens. The man shifts one of the levers & the large arm makes it's way down onto the corner of my roof, the steel bucket with it's sharp dagger like claws ripping at the old rotted cedar shingles, debris falling down beside me. He raises the arm again, moves it further up my roof & brings it down, tearing into my wooden beams, gouging a giant hole in my timbers. Help me! I think of my family, surely they won't allow this to go on.... please. The bucket tears into my roof again, daylight streams into my darkened upper rooms, the pigeons that nest here take flight as dust & debris drives them out of my broken windows. Again & again the giant steel claw tears at me. Suddenly I'm having a hard time holding up my roof, I'm shattered & weakened by the steel machine, In my panic, I look once again at the man, pleading with him to stop but with a stone face, he continues the onslaught. I can no longer support my roof & it slowly starts to give way, The nails make a horrendous noise as they tear themselves from my wooden beams, What was once my roof crashes to the floor, rubble scatters everywhere, my top floor windows, the ones that have overlooked these fields for decades are no more. Why won't he stop? The bucket comes down again as he starts tearing at the second floor, I'm racked with panic, I try with all my might to preserve myself, I strain to hold the upper floor up but I feel the battle is lost as I'm weakened by years of neglect & rot. I scream in my panic, I scream for the strangers, my friends, I know they care for me, I felt it, they would never allow this to go on, where are they? Why can't they hear me?
Pieces of the upper floor, old books, children's games, now cascade down into my once dark silent livingroom, my vintage wallpaper tearing from my walls. The bright red poppy that's been pinned to the kitchen door trim for countless years is hit by the barrage of falling timbers & lost under all the rubble. Through the dust & debris, a shaft of evening light shines into my livingroom, someone please save me. I feel my chimney start to teeter, the mortar cracking & letting go, I grow weaker, The top half of my chimney crumbles & falls, bricks & mortar toppling into my livingroom. The tracks of the horrible machine make a high pitched squealing sound as the man maneuvers the machine around to my other side. He begins tearing at the old man's bedroom, NO! This room is most important of all, a shrine to my Owner, please don't do this. But he continues. I see the steel claws slowly enter the bedroom wall, & with their downward motion, break the Old Man's deer antlers in half while gouging a large hole in my side, it's almost over I think to myself! I can't hold myself up much longer. Then it comes to me. I'm witnessing my own death & even though I've wished for, even yearned for it, I realize, I don't want to die. But my mind flashes back to a cold day last winter when I heard footsteps crunching in the hardened snow, the return of the stranger.... my Friend. I remember as he stood looking in my door, with sad eyes & the moment we both realized that my time here was almost over. It was for the best. Suddenly, everything was calm, so this was death. It came as such a deliverance! My wish had come true. My loneliness was almost over, darkness slowly moving in, memories of my family flashing before me, decades of memories. Suddenly, my burden was lifted & I realized I was no longer holding myself up, my whole structure lying in my basement...... I was no more. Just as the darkness began to envelope me, I saw him...... I saw the stranger, I saw my friend slowly riding by on his favorite black motorcycle, I saw his look of terror, I saw his glossed over eyes, I saw him slowly shaking his head in disbelief, I wished that I could comfort him..... tell him how much his visits meant to me in my last days. He turned around up the way & slowly rode by once more. The last thing I saw on earth was the gentle, caring face of the stranger..... My Friend.
It was a beautiful summer's evening & I decided to ride my favorite river ride, maybe visit my secret wild blueberry patch & enjoy a couple handfuls of those sweet little morsels. On the way back home, I felt compelled to visit a favorite Ghost House of Michael's & mine. We'd been concerned as of late, specially after witnessing the shredding of the trees close to the house... a sure sign that something is in the works. Little did I know, Michael had the same desire to visit the old place that evening. As I neared the property, I saw the long arm of an excavater hanging in the air, my pulse quickened, I layed into the throttle but even from the distance I was, I could no longer see the sillouette of the big old house. As I neared, I slowed down & took in what I saw. I couldn't believe it was gone, As I went by, I saw a shadowy figure staring at me from in between a couple remaining outbuildings. His look was one of guilt & pride, I disliked the man. I went to the end of the road, turned around & slowly rode past the once proud majestic house now lying in ruin. Rest easy Old Friend. Michael & I missed each other that evening but his reaction was much the same as mine, stunned disbelief. It's been a few months now since we lost this house & if you rode by now, you'd never know a house once stood there. In a summer of discovery with many new Ghost Houses found, this was a low point & I've thought about the old place for some time, wishing I could take a ride & visit the Old Home but sadly, it's just a memory now. I have to say, I'm not a big fan of progress when it tears down everything in it's path. Sadly for me, there's no longer any reason to ride down this lonely old road. The giant prairie sentinel that once cast it's shadow here is no more. This was one of the first houses Michael & I explored together & it'll always be our favorite! Goodbye Old Friend! James.
Some of the Old Man's suit jackets that I pulled from the rubble along with his prized Deer antlers, sadly broken in half.