Welcome to My Memoir
Kaiven’s Song of Life
a journey from pain to bliss
We moved to the 327 acre farm in Canton, Maine in April, 1950 I was ten and brother Kenny was eight and a half. I immediately fell in love with the Nature that was all around. The woods, the mice, the pond, the toads, the chipmunks and sometimes deer up on the hill all became my friends. We had some kittens and cats. There were thirteen at one time, but they had to hunt for mice to eat. We couldn’t afford cat food. The huge barn housed about ten or twelve cows that Daddy milked by hand twice a day. He got six cents a quart for his milk. I got to milk Red a few times, because she was an “easy milker.” I can still feel her soft teats which were easy to squirt milk from after Dad showed me how.
I spent seven years on our farm. All summer long and weekends were spent alone doing homework or just Being mostly. I did hate the weekends and summers as a later teenager, because I couldn’t socialize like my classmates did. One wooden two story building housed all twelve grades. There were nine in my graduating class, one the year before and six in Kenny’s class the following year. Kenny skipped first grade because I taught him how to read, which he told me shortly before he died.
I also suffered from being made fun of by kids at school. I was different, somehow; shy and scared most of the time. I was quite often called by degrading names because of my red hair, freckles, buck teeth and my last name, Butcher. Even poked fun at because I didn’t develop hips or breasts when other girls did. Looking back I probably had a touch of, what is now called “Aspergers syndrome,” or maybe a “borderline personality disorder.”
The farmhouse was in the middle of the woods and the nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away. Then it was a mile to the next neighbor. I was maybe eleven or twelve when early one evening upstairs in my bedroom, I was suddenly surprised by what seemed like a deafening silence vibrating in my ears as I sat on my bed. The quiet was so loud it was almost palpable. I was so amazed at how such deep stillness could sound so loud.
In lieu of socializing I spent much time in the quiet with the living things around me in the summers. I would kneel down on a large stone next to the edge of the shallow pond just in back of and between the shed and the barn. I marveled at the “stick bugs” crawling along the bottom, which was about a foot beneath the surface. Often at night the moon would shine ever so brightly in my bedroom window. When I was in my early teens, before going to sleep at night, something spoke to me convincing me that “I was great,” and I truly believed it. It wasn’t until several decades later, I learned the meaning of that inside voice.
From the teasing I got from other kids it felt like they thought I was quite naive or stupid even. Despite the emotional put downs, I stayed true to my Spirit, believing something was truly greater, deep within. Maybe that began after Kenny told me how to sneak into the principal’s office and look in my student file. I saw my IQ score was “above average.” I had no experience socializing out of school because we lived five miles from town. So I was probably a bit awkward in school with other kids. I was too afraid to even speak to boys until high school.
I was not ever taught to “be nice” or even to say please and thank you. I never felt loved by my parents or brother, although my meek and friendly Dad would tell me he loved me on a few occasions after scoldings, but I didn’t believe him. Both my parents had to drop out of school to work and help out their individual families. Dad went as far as forth grade in Nova Scotia and Mom went up to ninth grade in Massachusetts.
Kenny and I once walked into the woods to follow the old logging road to see where it went. I remember seeing bear tracks. Loggers came and cut many white birch trees and surprised my parents the first time they came, after we had moved there. We hadn’t sold them the trees, they had bought them from the previous owner, but Dad wasn’t informed. The Real Estate agent had told my Mom there was a bus that went by daily which made my Mom happy because we only had Dad’s truck and were quite poor. But disappointment set in big time for Mom, when she discovered there was never a bus that went by.
Dad bought a grey work horse and his name was Mouse. He was a good horse for Dad, who loved him dearly. He pulled a wagon to town when we needed groceries or something. Later on he bought a tractor. I wasn’t allowed to drive it because I was a girl. Mom believed girls should only do house work and boys should do farm work. Mom sterilized the milk pail and strainer twice a day. Kenny was a year and a half younger than I and had to do the farm chores. Occasionally I was asked to do some, but I protested that I’d tip my womb, if I did too much physical labor. That was what Mom told me would happen if I ran or climbed trees.
But run and climb I did regardless. I wanted to do everything Kenny did, even though I was a girl. I didn’t feel girlish. I didn’t realize until well into adulthood, he had hated me for not helping with chores. I did have to drive Mouse sitting on the raker to rake up the hay that had been cut and dried. I also had to tramp hay on the truck along with Kenny while Dad pitched it up to us. It was always very hot when we did this and hayseed stuck to our sweat and itched, a miserable chore.
One day after we finished raking, I wanted to ride on Mousie’s back, so Dad told me I could, if I hung on to the harness “horns” and had Mouse get in back of the truck he would drive down to the barn. I got up on Mouse and tried to get him to go in back of the truck, but he had other ideas. He began running down to the barn. What a ride, I was terrified to say the least. Then as we approached his stable I thought, if he went through the door I’d be knocked off. My Mom was in the barnyard and stopped Mouse while I hurriedly got off, grateful to be alive.
I spent many, many hours by myself, in the woods and fields of Nature, listening to the life around me, especially in warm weather. I often felt very present in and with Nature. One day I was looking down at the ground while walking up to the house through the cow pasture. Suddenly I had a very unusual, but wonderful feeling of being One with that ground and all of Nature. I did not understand what had happened, until many years later, but I never forgot the experience. The love I have for all living things, then and now, is mostly felt when I am very still, as still as Nature is without a breeze. A few times I would notice how the quietness of the farm seemed deafening to my ears.
We didn’t have running water or a bathroom. There was a well and an outhouse. Later Dad dug a ditch and laid pipe for a green iron hand pump to be put in the kitchen, mounted beside the rectangle iron sink. However, Mom didn’t think it safe enough for me to carry a big pot of hot water from the stove to the sink, so I didn’t have to wash dishes. She didn’t seem to mind doing them. She didn’t teach me how to cook either, other than making cakes and pies from scratch.
- start in middle
- start as child
- finish in 2020
More will follow….soon
the rest of my memoir rough draft… that is when I figure out how to work on this blog