Stepping cautiously down cracked concrete steps dusted with cobwebs, mouse droppings and rich North Dakota soil, I was the first to enter the underground cellar at my father-in-law's abandoned family farmstead.
Looking into the blackness of a place I had never been before was intimidating. I am no farm girl and had no idea what my fly into my face as I descended. Once inside the room my eyes began to adjust to the dimness and I peered into the corners and around the rugged wooden door.
"It's safe," I called back up the stairs to my children who had wondered if there would be snakes, bats or worse, a ghost, hiding down there.
Despite the 90 degree heat aboveground, the interior of the cellar was cooler as if air-conditioned by some unseen window unit. The floor had warped over time and was uneven but to my surprise there was very little evidence of animal intrusion. This fortified room would certainly have kept produce fresh and provided a safe hideout during tornadic summer storms sweeping across the golden prairie.
Like most frightening unknown experiences, once I had entered the room, surveyed it and found it safe, I realized that there had been nothing to fear at all. Peering into that deep darkness from above allowed my imagination to conjure up all sorts of dangers and reasons not to have ventured below ground alone.
But turning around to look back from where I had come, I was glad I took those perilous steps into the depths of uncertainty. Here is where my husband's Grandparents kept treasured food, where hands of his ancestors dug deeply into the earth to build an essential shelter and storehouse for their small new family alone on the plains. By just being there my respect for the hard-toiling homesteaders increased immensely. They had no idea how things would turn out from year to year, season to season, even day to day.
The same goes for my creative life, my personal life, my spiritual life. So often I allow myself to clam up, to become stuck in the mud of doing nothing because I am unsure of how things might go, how others may respond to me and how I may have to change by going deeper. I, too, must build a shelter and storehouse for my personal stories, my life experiences and my right to simply be me. Without taking the steps, often the scariest steps, I cannot turn back and see how wonderful it was to have gone in, moved through the fear and stepped into the unexplored space of real, true living.
Very interesting. My husband's grandfather also homesteaded in ND, west of Minot. My BIL lives there now.ReplyDelete
Wow - not many people are familiar with North Dakota. I hope you have heard some good stories yourself!Delete
Love your pictures - especially the last one! Thanks for the wonderful story!ReplyDelete
Thank you. Funny that I almost didm't include the last pic. That's proof of how stepping out really is meant to be!Delete
What a lovely post - the photos tell a wonderful story!ReplyDelete
Love the photos! Reminds me so much of my grandparents. They had a cellar too and yes, amazing how cool it always was!ReplyDelete
Great pictures, great story!! I'd love to go there myself ;)ReplyDelete
This is the most interesting doorway of all! I don't think I would have dared to enter.ReplyDelete
What amazing photos! I imagine a farm wife going down to fetch something for dinner, taking a moment to savor the cool air before venturing back out and up into the heat to continue her chores. Thanks for the images!ReplyDelete
Exactly. Cannot imagine not having a grocery store just down the street whenever I needed it!Delete
Very interesting and you were a lot braver than I would be!ReplyDelete
This is beautiful! I love your writing that goes along with the pictures. I recently went back into my grandparents' abandoned house and experienced some of the same fears you mentioned.ReplyDelete
So beautiful. I don't know if I could have gone down.ReplyDelete