Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Of Front Doors and Back Doors

We never used the front door.  The front door at my grandparents' farm was the back door to me, and the back door the front.  The same goes for other family members' houses I figure, always going in the back door as family, never the front door which was saved for "company" and missionaries.  If we go visit Mom's mom, we often enter the house through the garage if Grandma knows we're coming.  To my aunt's, again through the garage.  Even at home, we entered through a back door when I was growing up, very rarely through the front.

Grandma and Grandpa had their doors mixed up.  The front door going into the living room was around to the side of the house from the driveway, and the back door was closer to parking.  The front was the back, and the back the front.  I remember two things about the doors so vividly:

One day, my parents deposited me, a child sick enough to not be able to go to grade school that day, with my grandparents.  Mom dumped me off on her way to work, and Dad retrieved me at the end of the work day when he got off.  While laying on the couch milking a cold for all it was worth, I heard a knock at the door just beyond my head.  "Go around!" I heard Grandma shout, "Go around!"  And the footfalls faded as the visitors rounded the house in search of the other door.  Finally, after circling the property, they found the back door--the front to me.  Grandma shooed the nice boys in white shirts and black pants away, telling them in no uncertain terms that they were not going to make a convert of her.  Grandpa barely lifted his eyes from his word search or crossword puzzles, a smile every so slight at the corners of his mouth.

The back door--the front to me--had a smooth round metal railing arcing from the house to the concrete step three risers low.  As a little girl, I hung from that railing, swung from that railing, and blistered my poor hands as I clung tightly swooshing under it and letting go to see how far I could swing off the steps into the grass beyond.  If I got really good footing just before I grabbed the railing, I could probably get a good eight or ten feet off the other side.  How many times did I bonk my head in this game? dozens.  How many times did Grandma ever yell at me for swooshing underneath that cold metal rail?  Never.  I think before I was born, that rail stuck tightly in the hole in the siding of the house.  Fifteen years later, the hole had slowly grown much larger.  I nearly worked it out of the wall.

Now the doors have peeling paint, and the railing, while still standing, has rusted.  I made sure to give it a good squeeze, the only thing I touched out on the farm last weekend.  The front door--the back to me--has a beautiful porch, but the wooden platform is rotten and ready to collapse.  The back door, my front door, opens into a small vestibule with paint peeling on the ceiling like fur.  The concrete steps are almost completely covered in a variety of moss I like to call "Lush Oregon Green Goo" and bindweed.

I forgot to check and see if Grandma's Hens 'n' Chicks are still growing there by the back door.  I doubt it, but those are low-maintenance plants, so it's possible.  Nor did I notice any Bleeding Hearts by the front door, arguably a more delicate plant.  Front doors and back doors and so many memories...

1 comment:

whit-o-roni said...

i am enjoying your photos. brings back all the memories.

especially those when I blew the dandelions on the back of grandma's arms. or went to see the wheat in the field. and the old blue truck. and the afgans. and sweet red chair.

and the fruit snacks grandma always had in her car for us.

:) i miss those memories.