Sunday, April 29, 2012

Farm Girl

I grew up on a farm.  Well, I sort of grew up on a farm.  I spent enough time on the farm (and made enough mistakes) that I think I qualify as having "grown up" there even if I didn't always officially live there.

But I digress.

One of the things I remember about the farm (besides the food.  Holy Cats, did we eat.) is that it was hard.  Wicked freaking hard work.  I didn't really have to do the big stuff but I watched a lot of people working their assess off day in and day out.  There was always work to be done, and not the kind of work I do- the e-mail, reading, house work, driving, talking kind of work.  This was serious work.  Digging, carrying, dirty, smelly, always too hot or too cold, back-breaking work. Think of your worst back ache ever and multiply it by 100 and then imagine having it every. Single. Day.

Yeah.  That kind of work.

As I got older, I did about 1% of the hard work that the grown ups did, and I came to appreciate one very specific moment in the day.  Usually around 7:45 (because they worked with the light, dinner be damned), there would be some kind of unspoken agreement that It Was Time To Quit.  The folks who'd worked hardest would sit on these giant rocks around this crazy Japanese Elm that everyone hated (they drop sticks like dogs drop poop), but no one hated enough to try to take down, and we'd "enjoy the evening" for a few minutes.  That meant listening to birds (and then peepers as the darkness fell), enjoying the breeze and talking about small things like the snake my grandmother took a hoe to in the front yard and which fences were going to need attention and where those damn locust trees had sprouted again and the new litter of kittens we'd discovered in the front seat of the old truck.  They would tell stories about past snakes or litters or plantings or harvests or whatever, comparing this year- this day- to those that had come before.  I was always aware that I was the fourth generation to sit around those rocks and listen to some variation on those stories and it was like being surrounded by loving ghosts.

The farm is empty now- I wouldn't be surprised if it were sold soon, to cover debts and medical bills- but in my mind, as I sit here after a long-ass, hard-work day (which was still only 10% of the hard work they did), drinking a beer ('cause that was always part of the ritual too) and enjoying the evening, I can't help but go back to those rocks.

So, to all  those hard-working, never-say-die, badass (did I mention my Grandma killed snakes in the yard with a hoe?) folks who all came together in one combination after another to

Thanks. I'll try to do you proud.


  1. Awww..Laura. This made me homesick. I too grew up on a farm and remember the sitting around "enjoying the evening".

  2. Love! Btw, no experience on a farm -- one summer in a hot manufacturing plant is as close I get! -- but every time I complain about how hard or long my work day is, I try to think of the men in my family who have done that kind of work day in and out for years. Thanks for this reminder!

  3. Thanks for painting that image.