In the past half-week, I've had a chance to to do the following:
1. Pick strawberries and vegetables with Grandma;
2. Have jam sessions on violin and piano with Grandpa;
3. Explore the barn and look at the new calves;
4. Go hunting for kittens;
5. Drive all over gravel roads, including a trip to a nearby lake;
6. Run and play like I was nine years old;
7. Make up the rules to croquet;
8. Search through photo albums, playing "Guess which relative this is, fifty years ago" with the small(ish) cousins;
9. Speak with a vaguely Norweigan accent (it's addictive);
10. Cook with Grandma;
11. Get Grandpa to tell stories from his childhood in Norway;
12. Slide down the (carpeted) stairs. On purpose.
At my Little Grandma's funeral, I was visiting with my Norweigan Grandparents, and it occurred to me: unlike Chris, I still have two living grandparents. Two grandparents whom I had not visited in the past two years. And so I devised a scheme to get myself up to the farm. It ended up working out that my sister and I drove up after we went to our church camp, and we even ended up staying one more night than we'd originally planned, just so that we'd have a bit more time with the family up there.
It's funny being up there after a two year absence (especially since it had been even longer since I'd had a significant stay up there). For part of me, it was like my instincts were kicking in. Everything was so familiar: the route to the farm, the accents, the layout of my Grandma's kitchen, the places where they keep the games and where the kittens hide; how the ground felt under my feet as I ran as hard as I could.
But there was also this shock of what has changed: new buildings were everywhere, and everyone has aged more than I had expected. My grandpa has retired from farming during the time I was away, and my uncle had finally taken over the farm. And suddenly, out of the blue, my cousin Jaclyn turned twelve years old, and is no longer sure about playing kid games with her little brother and adult cousins. (And yet it didn't take much to get her right in the middle of our made-up croquet game.)
Remind me to get up there more frequently, so that I don't always feel like the returning prodigal.
(If you want to check out the whole set of photos from the farm, including whatever kitten photos turned out, it's right here.)