In a little farm house in the middle of a cornfield in rural Dinwiddie County; that’s where it all began….the move towards freedom and my life as a single parent had been in the works for a couple of months. I didn’t want to fuss and fight anymore; I just wanted to go in peace. I did what a coward would do and moved out while my husband was on a weekend fishing trip with friends. When the children woke up that morning I told them that I had a surprise for them; we were moving to a new house. My daughter was ten; my son was three. I played it up as an awesome adventure.
It was scary at first living in the cornfield. Our little house was a renovated Civil War home that set back off the road approximately 1000 feet with only one way in and one way out. There were fields to the left and right of us and woods behind. At night, the sky was as black as pitch but the stars shined brighter than any I had ever seen before. The house was T shaped with a living room and bedroom across the front, a foyer in between and a hallway that led to the kitchen. On the other side of the kitchen was the second bedroom and the layout sort of reminded me of a shotgun style home. For the first few months, the three of us would hold up in the back bedroom once the sun went down. We were afraid! There were really large windows throughout the house. We had covered them with sheets and blankets because we could not afford curtains when we first moved in. We left our other home with just enough to get by. We were starting over! At night we would go outside and sit on the front porch so that we could get used to the darkness. In the beginning we could only last about five minutes before we raced inside. But soon we settled in and got used to the sounds of the country including the train that passed by nightly around 9:00 p.m.
One fall afternoon, the farmer who leased the land around us drove up on his tractor and said “I brought your boy a pumpkin”. After that initial visit, he started referring to me as “the little cornfield girl”. We always felt a little bit safer and more secure when he was working the fields. He rotated crops and always planted either feed corn or clover. When the corn came up it was so high that you could only see the tip of our roof from the road. In the fall after the fields were plowed, we loved to walk around the edges looking for deer tracks and arrowheads. Every fall all of the little field mice wanted to come inside too where it was warm. It wasn’t long before school was back in session and everyone was adjusting pretty well to our new way of life.
The winters were difficult back then because the ceilings were tall, the windows were large and the house was old. We had a 500 gallon propane tank out back that needed filling more often than we could afford. We resorted to kerosene heaters to help us get by. We really enjoyed sitting on the floor around them and talking. I had a home-based business at the time; a special event sign company. It was very difficult to work with paint thinners and oil based paints during the winter without the garage that I had left behind. Now it was saw horses in the driveway and the kitchen table when necessary. We used to have to leave a light on in the pump house to keep the water from freezing in the wintertime. Christmases were great in the country! We would go to a local tree farm and bring home the biggest tree that we could find. We always decorated the outside of the house with live greenery, white lights and bows and it looked like a warm cozy bungalow beckoning you to come inside.
Springtime would roll around and I would plant flowers only to discover the next morning that the deer had eaten the plants during the night. Grass to cut with the push mower and more grass. We all took turns.
Our life was simple but good back then and we stayed in that little house for twelve sweet years. The old tobacco barn has since been torn down and the timber has been cleared off of the land but that place will always be home to me. It is where I found myself. We share many fond memories of back then. There were bonfire birthday parties, porch swinging, Sunday afternoon beach music on the radio, homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast, church on Sunday mornings, riding four-wheelers around the fields as well as friends, neighbors and family gathered around. This chapter in our lives proved to me that love can and does grow in small places; especially in our hearts.