Thursday, February 10, 2011

Life As I Remember It, by Charlotte Boquist

…..began with a walk along the highway to Grandma’s farm. I had my hand in my Momma’s as we trudged along the edge of the road. It was early summer and the weeds that grew by the side of the black top weren’t very high. Later in the summer they would be almost as tall as I was at three or four years old.

This highway in the early thirties was a long way from the busy path to Yellowstone Park that it is today. We most likely walked the whole half-mile distance without seeing a car.

The reason for our walk that morning has been lost in time, but it wasn’t an unusual occurrence. As long as Grandma lived we went to her house, and even now, when visiting that part of Wyoming, my sister and I are drawn back to the farm. While they lived to their late nineties, Grandma and Grandpa are both long gone. The farm had passed down to my Uncle Jonathan and now another generation to his son Tom.

The road has changed very little in the seventy-plus years since that walk took place in the very early part of my life. It remains a two-lane black topped highway, a little wider, but with much more traffic. It is still a major artery carrying tourists to see the wonders of Old Faithful Geyser and all the amazing sights in Yellowstone National Park.

As we wended our way to Grandma’s that morning I remember the warmth of the sun on my back and the comfort of my Momma’s hand as she led me onward. I have no recollection of any conversation that must have taken place.

I do, however, recall the red-winged black birds defending their territory in the cattails that grew in the drain ditch beside the road. The birds were sounding their warnings saying “ok-a-lee, ok-a-lee” as they flitted about warning the late comers that this place was spoken for.

There is a smell that goes with this memory, the odor of creosote. This distinctive smelling substance was used to treat the wooden telephone poles as a preservative. The telephone poles marched along the drain ditch that followed the edge of the road.

These are some of the sights, sounds, and smells that still bring back that early childhood time--my first memories.


  1. Lovely, lovely. Charlotte, you have such a gift!

    It wasn't until after I read this that I recognized the first line from an assignment I gave several years ago, "Life, as I remember it, began with. . . " -- It was the first line from a book; I think it was from "My Name is Asher Lev." I thought it would make a great beginning for all of us. I wrote one too, I'll have to see if I can find it.

  2. Charlotte this simple story of walking alongside a road with your mother is so vivid. I can picture the scene and the era without difficulty. I very much enjoyed this memory from your past, undoubtably because I love the country and it's sights, sounds, and smells,and the few memories I have of country from my childhood are aroused by this story of yours.

  3. Momma's hand. And red-winged black birds. I can see them in the fields of North Dakota as we drove thru in our VW van. We should have stopped and walked. I'll try to "stop and walk" with my grandkids today. Thank you, Charlotte.

  4. Charlotte, Your vivid descriptions, with a its many knee senses took this city girl for a walk with you and your mother. You are a gifted writer and I want to read/hear more from you!!! I'd love to see your story with illustrations.

  5. :-) You make me think of my own memories of the road in front of my grandparents' farm.

  6. From Kacie:

    Oh my goodness! I just want to read more of your "first memories". Reading yours makes me want to write about mine. I don't know what it is about your reference to the simple "black top" in your story but it is making me stop and really think about memories with my Grandma. Thanks Charlotte, for sharing.