We’re rebuilding where the hog unit existed before Jason was born. The house has stood empty since the hog market crashed after a string of trials and when Jason’s uncle left the farm for a job in town, he left the calendar on the wall, turned to February, 1982. I didn’t save the calendar but I did take a photo of it for one of my scrapbooks. It should go, like a captain of a ship, with the house.
The original house, built in the 1920s, is sod. It’s cool year round and leads down to the rough, hand dug basement. The basement has a dirt floor and the last time I was there, I found a jar of beets that Mary Vermillion grew, canned, and placed on the shelf for winter use. I carefully wiped the jar clean and placed them back on the shelf where Mary had put them no fewer than 30 years ago. And it is there they will stay.
The new part of the house was built in the 1950s sometime. There’s a window that looks to the west and I’m told that Mary, who was legally blind, could look out that window and know when a storm was brewing from looking at the faint outline of Pike’s Peak in the distance. I’m also told that she has a bit of a sixth sense and would put coffee on, knowing that visitors would roll across the bridge soon.
The prize of the day was discovered late in the day yesterday. On a display case built by Jason’s great grandfather’s construction company, sat a Polaroid of a sign that hung in front of the house, bearing the emblem of Royalean Pork Association. The hog is wearing a crown, an accessory I would wear everyday if I could, and the coat of arms includes a fleur de lis. My dad’s family is from Louisiana so I’m genetically inclined to love this symbol and I do.
There’s great brevity in rebuilding the hog business where it once fell and I don’t let that fact escape my attention but like to think that the sign and the beets are the blessing of past generations as we move forward in ways they couldn’t likely imagine.