Polliwogs

It finally got hot today. Summer brings more immediate recollections than other seasons.

My parents would take my sister and me to Grandpa Tom and (Gramps) Grandma Jean’s land that they owned, lying on the outskirts of Farmersville Station, which is about six miles outside of Franklinville, which still doesn’t help much if you don’t live in Western NY. It’s 70-ish miles outside of Rochester. Anyway, on his nice six-acre plot of pines Grandpa Tom put a trailer. From that location he would go to hunt buck, and come back to drink Millers and Manhattans and we would all play Crazy Eights, while enjoying the view from the ridge and swatting mosquitoes, pinching fleas, and hoping that Kiska (a Siberian Husky) would stay away from porcupines and skunks. I remember the electric anticipation that half of the way through the 60-ish mile trip, we would stop in Perry for ice cream, and ponder the Silver Lake Sea Serpent.

The land western-adjacent to Grandpa Tom’s place was a dairy farm. They raised Holsteins, which therefore wired my brain that Holsteins are THE BEST MILK cows and they make the most delicious MILK. In recent terms, I would turn to my son’s phrasing, who would currently summarize it by saying, “I like Holsteins because they’re my favorite.”

At the east end of the property stood a large pond. The mud was thick and would suck at your feet when walking around the edges. I remember a dock but I don’t remember a boat. We spent a lot of time there, and I found delight at trying to capture and hold polliwogs in my hand. The pond was teeming with tadpoles in the spring. It is difficult to describe the joyous feeling of squatting in sludge as a few dozen baby frogs try to swim through your fingers under a blazing sun. The days seemed hotter, then.

Once at the farm while I was in the main barn in an area where the calves and bulls were sequestered, a bull kicked me in my ass, launching my young frame across the room just to let me know that, “Hey, here’s how it feels to get kicked in the ass by a bull.” Point taken.

Another time I ruined an entire day’s worth of milk production by making it butter in the pasteurization vat. I think I was six, maybe seven years old. To this day, I don’t think that it was my fault, and can specifically remember that I did not touch a thing that would purposefully cause such a sabotage. However, the damage was done and I am sure it cost the farmer dearly. The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt the farm. But I probably did anyway.

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