Seven years..Where did 7 years go?
When I started Bramble Hill it was just my way of doing something different.
I had been a professional photographer for almost 8 years at the time and I was ready to share more from my life than just photography. See there are a million different parts of me.
Things that make “me, me“.
Photography was just one little, tiny part.
So what have I learned in the last seven years?
A whole lot. Probably more than I could ever actually write about.
- I learned that no matter how many important topics a gal writes about that it is the silly little posts about hamsters breaking out of jail or bunny rabbits going on a walk with a leash that will , without a doubt, be the posts folks often remember and ask about right away. It’s the simple things in life…
- I learned that when you write something and put it in a post the universe has a way of listening.
- I learned that by posting about my favorite causes and charities I can often use my voice to help another or make someone else’s day brighter. In turn making my own day a little happier.
- I learned that for some reason my boring, run of the mill life…is often not so boring or run of the mill. Everyone has a story to tell.
- I learned that I love to write. Especially once I figured out that when I am writing on my own blog I can use whatever punctuation I would like. I can make up my own rules and if someone has an issue with it ……(dot dot dot’s) they don’t have to read any further.
- I learned that people I have never met in person or know are reading this blog daily. They have been amazingly kind to me. I have received many an e-mail that has made my heart sing or brought happy tears to my eyes.
and then there are the questions. The teacher in me loves the questions.
Mainly because I love seeing people “get it“. Whatever the topic is.
Learning something new is what keeps me happy.
I am never for a lack of things I want to learn how to do.
The number one question though is always “Where is Bramble Hill, how did you come up with the blog name?”. There of course is a short answer and a very long answer. The short answer is pretty simple…the long answer can make me a little teary.
Such a sap…maybe I am just getting old and mushy?
I figured it has been seven years. Many of you have taken the time to hang around and be vested in my ramblings of family, food, crazy pets, crafts and photography…mainly food and farms these days.
It is about time I share this long winded post with you. At least for those who love a good story.
So here I go…time for the “long version“.
I know from my experiences over the last seven years that each and every honest post I make helps someone out there going through this thing called Life.
Often giving them hope that they will one day get their “happy ending” as well.
We all need that reminder sometimes that life can be something bad that ends up very good…
Grab some coffee and a nice warm blanket. It’s a chapters worth at least.
Heck I should probably even label it as such…
I can remember the first time my parents took us up to “the Hill“. They were building, what I imagine, was their dream home. A little 3 bedroom ranch house with a basement on a 10 acre plot of land. Smack in the middle of about 100 acres of farm land. My Uncle and his family purchased the 10 acres adjoining and began building as well.
I was 4, maybe 5, by the time it was finished and we moved in. My father was a Navy man turned electrician by trade but he was a farmer at heart. Every single day the man wore bib overalls…everyday. I barely ever remember him wearing anything else. He loved nothing more than blaring his country music and riding on a tracker if given the chance. They rented out our fields to a local farmer and he helped Terry with farming our fields. I have fond memories of riding in a combine, with an 8 track of Willie Nelson blaring in the background, being mesmerized by the ginormous machine eating the rows of corn in the front…shooting it out the back. I grew up running wild through fields of corn, soy beans and wheat.
I spent years rambling my way around cow pastures, full of lazy cows. I can remember going from cow to cow petting each one and talking them. Sometimes taking them ears of corn. They were my friends. I learned quickly to never name a farm animal…eventually they would come to a tragic end. Having a name made me miss them more.
Everyday after school and all summer long I would spend the bulk of my time hiking all over the place with my dog Bear. We would spend the days down at the creek catching crawdads and minnows, chasing butterflies, climbing trees, picking wildflowers and berries. I can still name just about every wildflower I see. Haley asked me once how I know so many of there names and I told her because my mother took the time to tell me their names and I loved each one so much I remembered them.
I was an imaginative child and the Hill gave me every opportunity to allow that imagination to come to life. There was a cemetery next door that was well over a century old. Long forgotten and totally in the middle of nowhere. The rumor was that the road going along the cow pasture was an old stagecoach road and once upon a time a hub of everyday life. I had no idea if it was true but I used to love to sit on top of the largest stone in the cemetery and pretend I could see the stagecoach coming over the hill and what the people must have looked like. Large wild rose bushes, peonies, and day lilly’s thrived there.
I would pick the flowers and wander around from stone to stone giving each person a flower or two. I found it so sad that they were all so forgotten out there in the middle of nowhere. Even at a young age this made my heart sad to think how fast we are forgotten once we leave the earth. I have a friend who swears that my good luck in my adult life has come from this single act as a child. Maybe she is right…who knows.
Our neighbors had four horses and an orchard. The teenagers in the house were kind enough to feed my love of horses and teach me how to ride. Little Man was my friend of choice. A little white morgan horse, every bit of 20+ years old. He would find me in the back of the orchard because he knew I would bring him carrots and apples. I can remember many a hot summer day climbing the fence to get on his back and he would take me around the back field for a little walk. Our little secret. I probably would have been given the belt for that…but he was a gentle horse and my friend. As a matter of fact just about all of my “friends” were of the furry kind. Lucky for me I finally received a few adorable cousins to play with after a few years but other than that, playmates were hard to come by. The distance between homes was vast.
I look back at my 7-8 years there now and realize that the best thing the Hill taught me was how to be alone. I have so many friends who have no idea how to just be happy with the quiet of solitude. Personally…I still love nothing more than a hike alone in the woods.
I suppose I never outgrew that.
I had “hideouts” all over the place. The hideouts were nothing more than bramble bushes like raspberry, blackberry and thorn bushes that had grown extremely large but would have a hollowed out center. A middle that an adult just couldn’t fit into or an area that just felt private and secluded. I can remember my sister and cousins and I making full “houses” out of some of the hideouts. I could run the parcel of land blindfolded. I knew every corner of that land.
My mother was a quiet sort. She was an artist at heart. Although I don’t think she put that term to it. She was the tallest in her family at an astounding 5′. The oldest of 4 girls. All of them fantastic at arts and crafts. The house was filled with fabric, straight pins, paint and stuffing. I can remember her taking a China painting class one year at the local Ben Franklin. She came home with the most amazing China pieces. I was in total and complete awe of her abilities to just pick up anything and make it in to something. This was long before the Internet and crafting industry boom. The things she created were often sold to local craft fair vendors or shops and this is how she paid for my sister and I to go to a private christian school. She would spend hours upon late night hours hunched over my sister and I’s old Holly Hobby table creating Starburst pillows, doorstop geese or whatever sort of craft was the hot seller of the moment. At the time I thought she did it to just make money…as an adult now I think it was her escape.
She was the best gardener I have ever met. Every year she would take a full acre or two of the back field and grow everything you can think of. She would grow okra, peas, beans and tomatoes for the local farmers market. I doubt you will ever find okra in my garden. I have vivid memories of cutting okra for the market and just how painful it was. I. hated. okra.
She would spend weeks canning and preserving her amazing garden each year.
That garden was the best place in the world to make mud pies.
Life was good on the outside of the Hill…but the family inside the house was nothing short of a mess of epic proportions. See, Dad was a raging alcoholic. I have tried often over the years to remember when it all went south but for the life of me I can’t remember a time that dad wasn’t an alcoholic. I am sure that his drinking may not have been as horrid as it was if he hadn’t been an angry drunk. Our very own resident Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Anyone who has ever lived with an angry drinker will know the epic mess I am talking about. He had this personality that was larger than life when sober. Gregarious, fun to be around, always joking and so much of who I am came from the good side of him. He too, never met a stranger. People would gravitate to him like mosquitos to a light. His own family however received the other side of him more than not. I can remember the entire length of the living room was full of Jim Beam collector bottles…which he of course personally made sure were all empty.
Perhaps that is why so much of my childhood was spent outside. Buried in the bramble bushes. Enjoying the silence of the woods, fields and animals. It was peaceful and beautiful and the only place in the world I could find joy at that time. It gave me hope that there was peace to be found.
Even a child knows the value of a peaceful place… especially a child that has no choice but to grow up far too young.
We moved away from the Hill when I was 12. It was hands down one of the saddest days in my life. I loved the hill. It was my refuge from the storm that was my family. We moved to a town that was an hour away and the kids in my new school tortured me with hate letters and taunts of “we are going to kill you..” that only junior high girls can do. Mean girls suck.
At that point I had lost the Hill and all of my friends only to be stuck in the middle of a crappy family in an unfriendly town. We shall chalk it all up to “character building” 😉
My mother finally had enough of dad when I think she realized that he may just end up killing not just her but one of us in one of his drunken rages one day…and she got us out of that town and started a whole new life all her own.
Somehow though, I survived it all. I loved them both somehow…I really think they did the best they could with what they knew. They definitely taught me the fine art of loving someone for who they are because you are never going to change someone.
I swore I would never live that life again though after I left home at 17. Never a day have I lived even close to that sort of life again. I swore off drama and those who create their own drama.
Life is just too short. Both of my parents also taught me that hard lesson by dying far too young. I saw how great life was for mom after she left my dad. I just always think how many years were wasted for both of them in that horrible, unhappy marriage?
Once I had my drivers license and a car…on the really bad days of those all to lonely teenage years….I would sneak back to the cemetery and take a book and read for hours by the big old old tombstone. It was such a peaceful place.
The Hill was my “center”. My only “soft place to fall“.
When I met Daryl I was 15. We were at church camp in Front Royal Virginia…It was love at first site. I hadn’t even spoken to him when I hit my friend upside on the arm and said “See that boy over there? I am going to marry him one day!”. And I did. He is the love of my life.
I often say that God gave me Daryl as an “I am sorry for your crazy childhood.“.
Our life is drama free and our home is now my “hill“. That soft place to fall that a home should be.
So now you know where the “hill” part came from now…what about the “bramble“?
The Hill was covered in bramble bushes of all sorts. Anyone who has ever tried to grow or remove a bramble bush of any sort, raspberry, blackberry, rose bushes etc… knows that a bramble can grow into something beautiful anywhere you put it. It is stubborn and strong…able to produce the most beautiful fruits and flowers.
Simply put…it is able to find happiness and sunshine where ever you place it.
I like to think of my life and who I have become has been something of a Bramble…. I will thrive and grow where ever I land. I will find my own happiness in the toughest of corners and produce the most beautiful things God allows me to at that moment.
This blog corner of the world is my life on my very own Bramble Hill.