We Tried to Build a Time Machine

People often say that time ticks along so quickly. And as a kid, that sounds pretty much not true. Each day is precisely the same as the last. It’s so easy to take it for granted. And granted, you don’t know any better. As a child, you haven’t been around long enough to bear witness to the passage of time and the changing of epochs.

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Some of my earliest memories are of playing with trucks in this sandbox at our house on the farm.

Of course, I’m speaking about my own experience, living in the same place from birth straight through to adulthood. Growing up on the precise farm on which my dad had spent his own childhood. I felt very rooted, very much like the entire world revolved around this, the epicentre from which my own life radiated, and could unfold.

Grandma took this photo of us, from the front step of her house.

And then you wake up one day and everything, absolutely everything is different. Very good, but just so different… it feels almost like you imagined your own childhood. But for the few photographs…

Blossoms in the foreground, brother in the background.

It seems like just yesterday we — my brothers and I — were kids on the farm. We can’t go back to that time… we can’t even really try. I know, because we did try.

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My grandparent’s house on the farm.

We may not have built an actual time machine, but we did something that felt almost as dangerous: we returned to that fabled place where we grew up. The place where a million latent memories are hidden around every corner, and under every tree bough. The place where I as a young girl ran around partaking of adventures real and imagined. The place where we as children would run rampant through the trees, telling each other stories , and encountering prairie chickens and sometimes our dad’s dairy cows, off on adventures of their own. The place where I could always find grandma in her kitchen pickling things, or in her garden growing things. And I could always find grandpa in his workshop, creating new and wonderful chairs, shelves, clocks, and toys.

Cows in the pasture. I loved exploring their paths in the woods.

So we returned. And that was how we discovered… that you can never return.

My brother climbed to the top of grandma’s apple tree.

Technically, the same patch of earth still exists, but it is no longer the place where we grew up. As we quietly left, a strange feeling washed over me. We can’t go back. We shouldn’t have tried.

The first home I ever knew.

The more time that passes, the more our childhood feels like fiction.

But it’s not.

And for that I am so grateful.

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Farm kid.

(Feature photo taken by my dad, from the top of the silo. My grandma is on the ground below, probably calling up to him to be careful.)