Thursday, June 4, 2015

Finding Home: Other Voices

Today Bonnie Dodge shares her childhood memories of a North Dakota rural home.

Avenues, homesteads, and college dorms. Each of these represents a place someone once called home. Not me, I’ve never lived on an avenue, and I only spent a brief time in a college dorm. I never homesteaded land, but my father did. Sort of.

I was born in North Dakota, and anyone passing through that state, or from that state, knows there is nothing in North Dakota to stay your feet but the land. And there is plenty of land. It stretches flat around you in every direction, most of it looking all the same. Acres of grasslands. Miles and miles of farmland someone might want to call home.

When I was six, my father bought an acreage outside Bismarck. One of thirteen children raised on a farm near Kulm, North Dakota, his heart always belonged to the land even though he worked as a small appliance repairman. Somehow he scraped up enough money to by land seven miles from town onto which he moved two old barracks. He knitted them together the best he could and for a while that is where we called home.

There were no paved roads or streetlights to shine in the windows at night and keep me awake. On one side of our gravel road sunflowers grew so tall we kids could get lost in there. On the other side of the road corn tasseled in the summer sun. If we stood still long enough, we could actually hear it grow. Our father planted trees and it was our job to soak them once a week from the water left over from washing clothes. Sloshing our half-full pails, we coaxed those trees to live. It gave us something else to do besides ride our bikes up and down the dusty roads or pull the legs off of the grasshoppers that stained our hands dark brown. I loved living in the country: dirt roads, acres of sunflowers, prairie dogs, meadowlarks, blue skies that could suddenly turn dark and spit thunder.

When I was nine, my father moved us to Idaho, where I have lived ever since. Even so, in my heart North Dakota remains my home. When you live that close to the land it becomes part of you, a part of what you want, smell, and see.

Even today sitting at my desk and staring out across the cornfields that border my Idaho home, I see acres of sunflowers and prairie dogs. I hear the meadowlark, smell the sweet fragrance of the oncoming rain, and am reminded of home.
Bonnie Dodge lives and writes from her home in southern Idaho. Her award-winning fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in several newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in the Pacific Northwest, including Idaho Magazine and Sun Valley Magazine.  For more information visit her web page at and follow her on Twitter @BJDodge. Her novel Goldie's Daughter will be published this fall by Booktrope.

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