When my family and I moved to northern McKinney, Texas five years ago, most of the land around us was rural, full of crops and grazing cattle. In fact, there was open farmland directly behind our house. At night, sitting on our back patio, we could hear coyotes yipping behind our fence and cows mooing from the small family ranch across the way.
I loved this; it’s what drew me to McKinney in the first place. Coming from an area in Arlington that was growing more and more dangerous by the year, where gunfire had become an almost-common sound, I was ready for a safer, more quiet place to live.
Funny story… right before we left Arlington, my husband, who had just returned from the war in Iraq, told me a bullet had just whizzed over his head while he stood in our driveway. My question: “Are you sure it was a bullet???” The look he gave me was priceless; obviously he knew what bullets sound like as they whiz over his head! Fast forward a month or so, and I’m sitting on the patio at our new place in McKinney, enjoying the quiet, when I hear gunfire behind our house. I was almost in tears as I ran in to tell my husband “Oh no! We have guns again!” I felt a bit sheepish, but very relieved, when he pointed out to me that dove hunting season had just started. Whew!
Sadly, in the name of “progress,” northern McKinney is being built up at an alarming rate…pastures are turning into subdivisions with houses right on top of each other, gas stations are springing up where I used to take photos of flower fields. Thankfully, our area is still safe, and I still love to live here.
The Abandoned Farmhouse
A mile or two from my house, just off of County Road 943, there’s an abandoned farmhouse, surrounded on three sides by cow pastures but with a subdivision growing quickly right across the road. I’ve been driving past this place for years, stopping every now and again with my camera to try for a photo that really shows the character of the place. Finally, one day at sunset, the magic happened.
Imagine the stories this old wooden farmhouse has to tell about the families who lived here over the years. In my mind, I see…
Farmer Dad, overalls rumbled, stumbling sleepily out the back door to tend his cows before dawn.
Mom, apron tied around her waist, cooking up a hearty breakfast of fresh eggs, sausage, bacon, and biscuits covered with thick, peppery cream gravy, enough food to keep everyone fueled until lunchtime.
Big brother, clutching his sister’s hand, waiting at the end of the road for the yellow bus that drove them both into McKinney for seven hours of book learning, impatiently anticipating the bell that signaled their freedom at the end of the day.
The two younger ones helping Mom with chores, washing the dishes…sweeping the floor…feeding the chickens…collecting eggs, chubby little hands gently burrowing under warm feathered bodies in search of treasure.
And after chores, hours of fun spent swinging from the tire hung from the giant tree in the front yard, playing tag in the farmyard, chasing the barn cats who kept the area free of mice.
Mom hanging clean wash on the line to be collected later, smelling of fresh air and sunshine.
Dad sweating all day in the fields, helping the crops grow strong and healthy, crops he’d later sell to feed his family and pay the farm’s never-ending bills.
The family gathering at the table for a hearty dinner of beef and potatoes with sides of fresh vegetables grown in Mom’s garden, followed by evening chores and children’s baths.
And finally, Mom and Dad on the front porch swing, hands clasped together, watching fireflies dance and listening to cicadas hum in the still evening air.
Then, early to bed to rest before getting up and repeating the day all over again.
In my mind’s eye, I can see it as clearly as if I’m standing in the farmyard 75 years ago. Maybe it’s magic…
Can you see it too? Can you feel the magic?
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