Sunday, June 2, 2013

Are You A Farm Girl At Heart Too?

“The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been” -- Madeleine L'Engle. Sydney and I were out picking peaches the other day, and she was stamping around, complaining about some bug or ant and I was in the tree happily picking my peaches.  I picked this tree out and replaced it in our yard here when another had to come down to fix some underground wires. Exasperated, Sydney said, “you love this bug filled, picking stuff, don’t you ..I don’t”! I thought about that later and decided yes, I sure do! One thing I notice about myself lately, is as I get older the things I like most are the things of my young life and other older people seem to do the same. I replied back to her, “yes I do, because I feel like true self”. 

I was a farm girl before I got married and had kids. There was many sides that life. It was scary being on the ND prairie after our Dad died, and getting snowed in with animals giving birth in snow storms, and trying to get hay and water to them trudging through snow up to your thighs. If anyone got hurt it was a long way to a doctor. Sonny cut the end of his finger off out in the field,  and drove himself and the finger home so someone could drive him to a doctor fifty miles away.

Kathy and I were talking about how Mom did laundry when we were young. The basement in the farmhouse always had water in it. Not a little water either, but about a foot! Mom ran a sump pump every spring, but it just seeped back in through the crumbling cement walls, almost as fast as she pumped it out. The freezer, washer and dryer were on a platform above the water. She used to wash the clothes in a wringer washing machine on that platform. Haul the clothes all out to the clothes line, and carefully and orderly hang them on the line shoulder to shoulder, using one clothes pin to hold two shoulders together, ( and you better do it that way too ha). After they were all hung out, (many times having to prop the sagging line with the heavy jeans and overalls with a forked tree branch wedged under it to keep it up), she would go back and drain the machine and haul the water up the steps to throw it out! We had a dryer on the platform, but rarely dried anything in it because it "gave you a shock". When I think of the danger of it, I am astounded today that somebody wasn’t electrocuted! We would go down the stairs, walk a plank over to the platform to get anything out of the freezer or the dryer. When you used the dryer you hoped you didn’t get  the“shock” ( ah yeah,  its sitting over a foot of water! Talk about the redneck, farm life…we lived it, and were happy doing it too!

That was the negative part, the part that made me think as a young girl, I am getting to town where there are some people and laundromats etc.… (and boys in particular back then ha)! Since those days, I have lived in Berthold, ND which was a rural town of only 500 people or so back then, for 19 years. Brendon graduated high school there. Then we moved to Minot, ND a city of around 35,000 back then, for 8 years and Shelbey graduated high school from there. Now I have been in Phoenix for 10 years in a population of 4.2 million people! We live in the suburb of Gilbert and Sydney graduated high school from here. So, I have tried it all and love different benefits and aspects of all places. I am however, still that girl on the farm though no matter how old I get. 

It was on the farm that we learned to be survivors, independent women, fixers of most anything, animal lovers, stewards of the earth, how to sustain ourselves, raise a garden, what true peace and quiet is, feed chickens, milk cows, raise livestock and yes Sydney, to be a harvester. I get great satisfaction from picking something I didn’t buy! I hoped the day I was pureeing all those peaches for Easton to eat that Mom was looking down on me because she would have loved to be part of that! That satisfaction comes from many years of harvesting a garden and canning and freezing what you brought in. Even when my big kids grew up I had all my jars of canned stuff in the basement. We picked berries and bought fruit in season and made up pies and froze them because in small communities you bring pies and bars to every thing…school functions, church functions and community events. Women bragged about how many quarts of this or that they “put up", …it was a regular part of our conversations.

It doesn’t matter where I live, because being a farm girl is a state of mind, not where I live. It is who I am in my own mind. It is where I mentally go to find peace. Doesn't have to be at our old farmstead either because it is a state of mind that comes with pictures, picking those peaches, working with my horse. That’s who I am deep down. Before life happened and I became someone’s mother or a wife. Before I got a bad back. Before my Parents and Brother passed away. A lot of people gravitate back to those roots when they get older in their minds, I know I sure do.

“The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been” -- Madeleine L'Engle. So here’s to embracing all our lives, and thanking God that we’ve been blessed with enough years to have so many! Thanks be to God!