Each morning I take in the latent aroma of freeze dried coffee and hear the monotone voice of the radio reporter who calls out the price of beans and corn, the auctioneer’s rhythm unmistakable. The soft voices of my grandparents speaking to each other echo in my memory of the early morning kitchen table. The door to the stairway would be open such that it blocked most of the entrance to the kitchen, reducing the clamor of breakfast preparation to a minimum.
No matter how I tried, I never woke early enough to catch either of my grandparents descending the creaking stairs, for Grandpa was there, sitting in his chair at the table, smiling when I came in.
“Well there he is! ‘morning Kai-boy!” he would say.
Grandma would chuckle, turn from the counter where she tended to a pot of oatmeal, and smile. “How did you sleep Kai?”
There was not a single morning, not as a boy, teenager, young adult, or even in my thirties when I tied my business road trips into visits to the farm that I did not feel welcomed, respected, and cherished. Those smells, sounds, and voices are yet here, alive, vibrant. They are welcomed ghosts of more than a decade ago. The rattle of the glass pane at the top of the stairs, the static of the countertop radio, the subtle hiss of water through the pipes from the basement to the main floor, and ultimately, the sound of Grandpa opening the ground level door that brought the smell of fresh cut grass, rain, or sheep inside.
This is why we come back here, to our family farm. This is why this place, more than any other feels like home.