For my once a month blog for Smart Girls Read Romance, I wrote about the Oregon Trail and setting a romance on it. For anyone interested in the trek west, my piece there may be of interest.
Pretty much, I grew up with history as a physical part of my life-- a lot of that due to my age and the years in which I grew up. The farm my parents bought in Washington got its water from a spring that was piped almost a mile to our home. Anytime the water stopped, my father had to go back and find where a deer had kicked out the pipe. The spring was partly protected by a cover and partly open, which means I probably had pretty good immunity to giardia-- at least back then. Fortunately, there were no homes above it and so cholera or e coli were not a risk.
Walking to the back of that property had two possible dirt roads to an orchard of plum trees, where we competed with the bears to get the fruit. My first school required walking off our hill and a mile and a half on a gravel road. The school was two rooms and my first grade teacher taught three grades in hers. It enabled students to proceed at their own pace-- which meant when the school consolidated, with a larger town school, I had to reread all the readers I'd read the year before.
The home I grew up in had been two smaller houses that were pushed together and made into one. In the winter, we would close off that other part with a curtain because it was too expensive to heat the whole house. That wasn't unusual back then and neither were phones where you dialed an operator to make a phone call.
Fern Prairie, yes, that's what it was called, was a pioneer kind of community with a grange hall a few miles from the house where there were country dances and potlucks. There were two country stores not too far from our home and one had a locker (for those younger or who never lived in the country, it was a large room kept at freezing temperatures with rental lockers for nearby families to keep their deer or bear meat through the winter-- nobody had home freezers big enough in those days.
I grew up with history as part of daily living. I grew up with the freedom to run over hills, to get my first .22 when I was twelve, to see some things a person would rather not have seen but also live a life that isn't so commonly lived today.
My parents sold the farm, and we moved to the suburbs of Portland where I went to college and met my husband. He had grown up pretty similarly to me. As soon as we could, we set out to find the kind of land and life, which we had experienced. Moving out here came danged close. The original house was gone, but the owners had themselves built the home in which we live today.
The property had the original harness shed, which we have maintained with a lot of old tools in it. In front of our home here was the crossing for the community as the sandstone was hard enough to bring a wagon across it. Years before that, this was one of the locations the Luckiamute Indians used for some of their seasonal migratory living. Finding grinding stones and arrowheads didn't used to be unusual.
This area was not too far from what had been Fort Hoskins. Moving here, we again had a country store where the wood floors were cleaned with kerosene, yep it's how they did it. It burned from a probable arson (some rough folks live out in these hills). In what used to be a nearby community, there had been a popular dance hall. I met people when we first lived here who had gone to dances in it. It had been burned many years earlier because the locals weren't happy that the soldiers from the fort were coming down to whoop it up. Easy to solve problems if someone doesn't mind a little violence.
summer in 2003
It is interesting to wade up our stream, find broken bits of pottery from earlier kitchens, old tools, and see the heavy metal cables that were once used by the loggers to dam up the stream enough to float logs down to the local sawmill. I think history is wonderful, exciting to read about, and hear the stories of what it was like. I enjoy setting my books into it. Living in it, not so much.
Finally--- there is another good reason to not live with our own history even. I was looking for an old photo of this place. I could probably find it in an album and scan it, but I thought I could find it the lazy way on my hard drive. I didn't, but I came across the first blog I ever did, which incidentally was in 2005. That blog ended up being cancelled by me as I decided to not continue-- but then started another blog with a name slightly altered (when you close down a blog, the name gets grabbed by someone-- do not ask me why because I had deleted everything from it). Anyway, I came across photos of me in 2005 (like the one below)... Talk. About. Depressing. Definitely-- do not even live with your own history! Live right where you are and make the most of it...