Iâ€™ve always been fascinated by the stuff farmers keep in their groves. Not that Iâ€™ve spent a lot of times in groves â€” we had a fort in ours on the family farm when I was growing up, while my Kandiyohi County cousins created a masterpiece that was the envy of all of us kids.
Their grove didnâ€™t have just one fort, but rather consisted of a maze of rooms â€” probably half a dozen or so. One summer, when I spent a couple of weeks at Grandmaâ€™s house, my cousins and I would spend hours playing make-believe house and racing from â€œroomâ€ to â€œroom.â€ We mixed up mud pies in old pie tins in our make-believe kitchen, and just had a wonderful time.
Our fort here at home was never quite so fancy. I think it was because our â€œnew groveâ€ was established in straight rows, not like the old groves that had no order about them. The old groves had character.
Of course, we always had plenty of supplies for our fort â€” the hand-crank corn sheller was used to supply just enough corn kernels to pour into a cracked bowl and put on the table (a discarded metal TV tray or one of those wooden cable reels). We had a stove (tossed out from the old farm house), pots and pans with broken handles and a smattering of no-longer-appreciated utensils. As a last resort, sticks were used to mimic wooden spoons, and leaves (especially in the fall) could be whipped into any kind of Minnesota hotdish our young minds imagined.
These days, it is the next generation that has taken over the fort-building in our grove. Over the weekend, I was out there admiring their handiwork.
Over the last year or two, Grandpa and the grandkids have transformed an old A-frame hog hut into a rather respectable dwelling. Old headlamps were nailed by the front door to serve as imaginary outdoor lights (imaginary only because they have not gone so far as to install electrical wires out there!) The roof has a collection of shiny metal hubcaps recycled from Grandpaâ€™s junk collection, no doubt. There are chairs without seats, pans without handles and a mailbox post without a mailbox.
I have yet to figure out why my old hairdryer is secured just above the entrance â€” maybe itâ€™s supposed to be the doorbell, or a weapon to scare off intruders, I have no idea! I was kind of disappointed that my little niece didnâ€™t invite me in for tea on Sunday afternoon, but we had such a busy day driving over gopher mounds, walking to the turtle pond and visiting the baby chicks in the barn.
In between, my older nephew, niece and I explored the farm yard for eclectic items (Grandpaâ€™s junk) that could become recycled treasures. Matt ended up claiming an old sign, and arrangements were made for Kaitlin to save a pair of old barn doors from the burn pile.
Just before the sun set, Katie, Zach and I had made our way to the far reaches of the grove and the shell of a car thatâ€™s been resting there since before my folks bought the farm in the mid-1960s. It was our last exploration of the day. That treasure is way too big for any of us kids to claim, besides, itâ€™s got a rather nice resting place where it is â€” in the farmerâ€™s grove.