With apologies to Sir Elton John and his masterpiece Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, we are saying “goodbye Whitetail Meadow.” Unlike the singer, we are not leaving the penthouses and city life to return to the farm; we are leaving the “farm” for a simpler, less strenuous, less time-consuming life in a subdivision!
Whitetail Meadow was the name we gave to our little slice of heaven on the northeast side of Indianapolis. This hidden gem along Sargent Road is a bucolic piece of countryside in the city. Originally four acres, we expanded to ten by purchasing the house and property next door. Mud Creek flows through the yard and the partially wooded acres of wildflower meadows. Heaven.
Cookouts, campouts, and celebrations made many memories in the 12 years we called Whitetail Meadow home. As we were preparing our home for sale, Carmen and I wanted to leave a letter for anyone touring the house to read. Before I share some more personal memories, here is an excerpt from that letter:
- On our first day at Whitetail Meadow, we watched a mother pileated woodpecker teach her young son how to peck for insects. That was our introduction to the lessons in nature we would learn!
- Sitting on the deck enjoying a beverage while the deer graze in the yard. Watching the seasons pass through the does, growing heavy with their soon-to-be newborn fawns. The spotted fawns, barely able to walk, grow into adolescents. The males grow their antlers covered with velvet fuzz, sparring with each other, later shed the fuzz, and finally, the antlers themselves.
- Watching the abundant wildlife, including more bird species than we can count, woodpeckers, eagles, hawks, and more. Mink playing in the creek and fox on the hunt. Mallards and wood ducks paddle the creek while the blue herons fish for dinner. At night, the owls’ hoots can be heard.
- We have celebrated countless holidays, birthdays, and gatherings of family and friends. In 2022 we even hosted a wedding in the backyard, complete with a 40-foot tent and dinner for 50!
- The fall is the perfect time for mini-hayrides through the meadow, followed by picking pumpkins from grandma’s garden and decorating them with stickers, markers, and carvings for Halloween.
- Summertime brings outdoor movie nights, campfires (mmmm, s’mores), and backyard campouts. It is also the perfect time for creek stomping – wading, swimming, throwing and skipping rocks, exploring, and finding treasures. When not stomping in the creek, fishing is another way to enjoy being outdoors!
- Winter brings a quiet stillness to the valley as the snow carpets the meadow and ice forms in the creek. Tracks in the snow reveal the presence of wildlife hunting for a snack. The hill at the north end is just big enough for grandpa-powered sledding for the grandkids.
- In the spring, Whitetail Meadow emerges from its slumber, and the cycle begins again! Flowers bloom, the foliage leaves out, and the migrating animals return.
- Hiking the trails every season reveals something new as the meadow and the forest grow and change. Every day, every moment is different if you take the time to look and listen.
In my previous post, I spoke of hallowed ground, not hallowed by consecration, but hallowed by the moments of life that happen. The memories of life. Memories with our sons Jeremy and Brad.
Jeremy and Brad
Jeremy, so much life lived in the years Carmen and I spent at Whitetail Meadow. Happy days, painful days. For a year or so, he was our neighbor at Whitetail Meadow, living in the second house we bought on Sargent Road. I always love to see him come around the corner of the house, usually moments after Braxton appears. His knowledge of rocks, soil, and water gained from his career in materials testing came in handy on a variety of projects on the property. The most memorable project for me is the weeks we spent building the paver patio. My grill sat on that patio for years, and I would think of Jeremy and I toiling over leveling the ground, compacting the gravel and the sand, and laying the pavers, every time I grilled.
Brad, so much life lived in the years Carmen and I spent at Whitetail Meadow. Happy days, painful days. (Yes, I know I repeated myself 🙂 ). Memories of Brad playing catch, hitting a Wiffle ball, and smashing a drive with Jordan’s plastic golf clubs. Images of Brad following the kids around during Easter Egg hunts or enthusiastically enjoying the fall hayrides easily come to mind. Carmen and I felt blessed to be able to welcome Brad and his sons to live with us for a year during one of life’s more painful times. While these empty nesters were indeed accustomed to our routine, being able to sit down to an evening meal with them and talk about their days was something we will always remember.
Hallowed ground…while at Whitetail Meadow, we welcomed the next generation of Ton, Braxton, Jordan, and Jasper:
Braxton, Jordan, and Jasper
Braxton, our first grandchild…so many memories. We loved to play “Mario and Bowser” on the playset in the backyard. Somehow Mario (aka Grandpa) could never defeat Bowser! Braxton’s and Grandpa’s great adventure – the day I took off work to babysit him, and we explored the 10 acres together! The highlight has to be just this past summer. Braxton is autistic, and one of the ways this manifests in him is a strong reaction to getting his head wet; showers and baths were a challenge. This summer, after taking a few swimming lessons, Braxton, Grandma, and I spent THREE hours in the creek. Braxton dove for rocks and swam between our legs, and spent the whole time UNDER water!
Jordan, Jordan grew up at Whitetail Meadow. Grandma provided his primary care for the first several years of his life. Later she provided after-school care for him. They were (and are) inseparable. Jordan loved to play dinosaurs in the meadow and the woods. He would be a velociraptor, or a T-rex, or whatever his favorite creature was at the moment. Grandpa would be his prey, captor, or fellow dinosaur. Jordan also loved to help Grandpa feed the deer with his little bucket of cracked corn. The scenes that will stand out for me are Jordan and Grandma raising Monarch butterflies, discovering the caterpillars, moving them to their habitat, watching them make their chrysalis, emerging as a butterfly, and finally coaxing them out of the habitat on to the garden flowers.
Jasper, now two and a half, knows the Meadow as “side,” as in “boots…go side”…almost his first words. He loves playing outside, whether following big brother Jordan around, showing no fear climbing the playset, sliding down the big slide, or exploring the creek. Jasper loves to chase the birds and squirrels, never quite able to catch them. By far, his favorite activity is throwing “wa nets”, “tix”, and “rcks” in the “wada” (for those unable to speak two-year-old, that is throwing walnuts, sticks, and rocks in the water). He was always quite proud when one actually landed in the water, proclaiming, “I did it.”
All three of them love the creek. Creek stomping! Throwing rocks, wading (and now swimming), exploring, and visiting the “waterfall.”
Hallowed ground…all of these memories make Whitetail Meadow hallowed ground, but it was August of 2022 when our dear friends Dennis and LeeAnne declared it as such:
Katrina, Ariana, Henry and Avery
Katrina, Ariana, Henry, and Avery joined our family, quite literally, at Whitetail Meadow. Brad and Katrina were married in a beautiful ceremony in the backyard at Whitetail Meadow. The day was perfect. A wonderful blending of two families, attended by family and friends. Ariana and Avery were beautiful angels scattering flower petals down the aisle. Jordan, Henry, and Jasper were handsome ringbearers. And we will always remember Brad’s face when his gorgeous bride-to-be, Katrina, walked across the deck, down the stairs, and across the yard toward him…the moment they looked into each other’s eyes and expressed their vows…and, of course, the pronouncement of husband and wife!
Carmen, my words fall short. The memories we built over the time we spent there…together…are beautiful and endless. Working side by side in the garden, entertaining friends, the countless family celebrations from Thanksgiving during our initial renovations (no drywall…only studs, rafters, and subfloor), to Easters, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, birthdays…and Christmases, wonderful, magical Christmases! Of all that, what I will remember most, is just being with you. Sitting on the deck on a warm summer evening, watching the deer play reindeer games, the eagles fly overhead, or the groundhog peeking around the corner. Sitting by the fire on a cold winter night, talking about our day, making plans for the future, laughing together, crying together, loving every minute.
I look forward to building more memories in this next chapter in our lives. So yes, we are saying “Goodbye Whitetail Meadow,” but the song is not over; there are more lyrics to write, more melodies to pen, and more harmonies to blend.