Paradise is Sharing...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Harvesting Memories...

There's a black-top road, a faded yellow centerline
It can take you back to the place, but it can't take you back in time ~ Wynonna Judd

I could drive there in my sleep.... but I point out old landmarks to MyHoney as I steer my Subaru down the road, taking the last long corner where the wooded lane opens up to rolling fields, and on the right, up on a hill... sits the farm. 

I pull slowly into the long driveway, hearing the gravel crunch under the tires, and see the barn come into view despite the heavy cloak of fog lingering over the meadows.  We pull into the door yard, and I take a deep breath as we prepare for a day with my family - at the farm.

I love my parents - I do.  But to fully understand my family dynamic, you would have had to work in the wind, rain and weather -as we all picked together, as we all picked together side by side...(Rutabaga! Rutabaga! Rutabaga! or at least that is how the "Rutabaga Song" goes... the pride song my father made up for us all to sing as we froze our fingers to the bone, pulling the stubborn root vegetables from their deeply mired places in the mud, and cut the roots and leaves off to plunk them in a row.  When you work with family, you become more than just family.  Your father becomes dependent on you.  As a child, the responsibility can be weighty and confusing.  I worked beside my father during "bumper crops" and disappointing crop failures.  I saw worry, stress, and fatigue in my fathers eyes.  I also saw immense pride, joy, and satisfaction.  I was more than just a daughter to my father - I was part of the farm.  Getting out of the car, and walking into the house, I immediately inhaled the scents of being home at the farm.

Pumpkin bread, apple pies, and carrot cake.  As we enter the kitchen, we are greeted heartily by my father and his booming welcome "WWWWEELLLLLLLLLL!!!"  As mom buzzes around the kitchen pulling hot whipped potatoes, carrots and rutabaga souffle out of the oven, Dad offers us beverages and we sit at the table ready to feast on the bounty of this years harvest.  Dad beams with pride - and even though it's obvious, he says "All the vegetables came out of Mom's garden"  Truly, It is Thanksgiving at the farm.

Gratitude feels different when it's hand-picked... 

My friends used to look at the hundred acres I called home, and exclaim "It must be so much FUN to live here!"  At the time, I wouldn't call it fun.  On hot summer days when my friends were at the local swimming hole, I was in the fields laboring stacking hay bales.  We spent days on end with the sun beating on our backs weeding the crops on our hands and knees.  During school days, as my friends participated in after school sports and activities, I had to hurry home to work in the fields and bring in the harvest.  The work was both back breaking, and at times could break your spirit. As a child and teenager tensions ran high as we tried to create our own boundaries and become our own people - people who didn't want to work on the farm, the lifeline, pride and joy of my father.  My father took our resignations personally, as a rejection of him, not of the work.  There was friction.  It was hard - I won't lie, and some of the friction and tension spilled over into our adulthood.  We were born and raised to work as a team, and that didn't always translate into loving like a family.   For many years I resented the farm.

"OK, let's say Grace."  My father folded his gigantic rough hands, and my mother, brother, MyHoney and I bowed our heads.  "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day and this food that Jean made.  Thank you for letting us all be here together, in your name we pray Amen".... Amen we all repeat, and for the next hour we pass serving dishes around the table, chat about current events, tell old stories and laugh... like old friends.  Once the dinner dishes are cleared, my Dad coaxes my Mom to bring out the pies and cakes - once again repeating the fact the pumpkin and carrots came from the fields of the farm.

As I polished off a generous hunk of my mothers famous carrot cake, I thought about the pride of the finished product my Dad presented to us today.  As a business owner myself now, I realized the accomplishment he must feel.  He's made it - all the work, sweat, blood and tears resulted in feeding his family.  He has raised children and grandchildren.  It all came from the earth, from his hands, and more importantly - it was all made possible because he had a family who through all the wind and weather, we all picked together, we all picked together side by side.... at home, on the farm.

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now, Paradise will turnip on the farm....

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