Family Traditions

Notes from Janey . . .

I just got back from working on the irrigation ditch. It isn’t something I would necessarily choose to do on such a fine summer’s day, but we have been without water getting to our pond for many days now.

We are the last homestead to receive water from the Dalton Ditch after a series of scenic pools and heavy water users. We get the dregs, if any. I went to investigate with shovel in hand.


In the middle of an Aspen wood, I found where the weed-clogged and neglected ditch needed help. The water meandered on its merry way, not paying much attention of where it should be going. If water is a metaphor for Spirit, it was up to me to get it flowing in the right direction. I dove into the task at hand.

It was hot and sweaty work. Shoveling, bending, lifting heavy mud, but for some reason, I was enjoying myself. I thought about my grandpa and how he did the exact same thing, year after year in this very spot. It was comforting somehow. I wanted to prove I could do it too.

Exhausted, I sat on a rock to rest with mud plastered from tip to toe. I was thirsty, but I had left my water in the car. (I guess I’m still a pioneer-woman-in-training.) I couldn’t help but notice what a lovely day it was.


I used to visit my grandparents here in the summer when I was a kid. It was my favorite place to come, and this glen reminded me of the Wyoming of my childhood. Buttercups and forget-me-nots were scattered through the forest floor. The wren was singing his heart out and a lone white tailed deer wandered through. A gentle breeze cooled my face. The smells were rich and deep, and there were no new houses crowding out the trees.


I invited Grandpa to join me, long gone since 1978. Here he came in his work overalls. He was shorter than I remembered, but still had the kind eyes and soft smile, looking at my mud-splattered and sweaty face.

I said, “Some things never change, eh, Grandpa?”

He replied, “Thank God for that.”

Some family traditions are of a Hallmark-perfect Christmas. Some are family vacations to the beach. Some have the entire family going to church on Sunday. These are not my family traditions. Mine involve mud and grime and sweat.

It may not be pretty, and I may never get the mud out from under my fingernails, but I did my grandpa proud today. Tomorrow, I’ll be putting up peaches in my grandma’s kitchen and will see what she has to say.

(Article and photos by Janey Wing Kenyon)

This is the end of the article entitled Family Traditions published by Tupelo Kenyon on December 26, 2008 at 5:00 am | In Relationships - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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