My fingernails were dirty all week.
I had to wake up early.
My shoes got muddy and the wet plants soaked through to my socks.
The bugs swarmed around my head to the point of madness.
They also bit my ankles resulting in giant itchy bug bites.
As the sun rose, it got hotter and hotter until my clothes were soaked completely through.
My muscles were sore each night and I was surprised and not at all pleased with how physically weak I’ve become while away. (What I used to lift with one arm I now can’t even lift with two!)
Tiny calluses started to appear on my hands.
All things I used to hate. While my friends were spending their summer vacations sleeping in until noon and then watching cartoons in their PJs, I was up before the sun, down in the fields, doing hard manual labor that I thought no kid should ever have to do.
But the other day as I helped my family graft willow trees to plant along the recently rebuilt riverbanks, I realized how much I miss it. We joked about how ‘Willow trees along the riverbanks’ sounded like a Laura Ingalls Wilder book and about who was going to collect the faggots (bundles of sticks, you guys!). We argued about how high to cut the trees and joked about the repercussions of each decision (too high and the next people that walk around in this grove (which was in the middle of nowhere) would trip – too low and they wouldn’t grow back and the grove would run out of trees (there were millions). We fought about what music to play from our phones (after eight rounds of “Call Me, Maybe”, it got old. But what didn’t get old? Calling whoever sang along ‘Maybe’. “Hey Maybe! NEW SONG!”)
There were lots of laughs and even some tears.
And not the happy tears. The ‘my brother stabbed me with a willow tree’ tears, and the ‘my sister pretended to chop my hair off with the clippers’ tears, and the ‘I can’t think of anything worse than listening to Norah Jones but I’m being forced to’ tears, and the ‘I want to be anywhere else in the world but here’ tears.
And all the other tears that come from dramatic teenage girls who think that the farm life is the worst.
And while they cried, (and the tears didn’t last very long and usually ended because someone made the crier giggle) I laughed. Because I remember painting the roof of the farmhouse and having to miss the birthday party of the boy that I LOVED because we didn’t finish in time – and crying. I remember thinking there was no one in the world worse than my older brother and cousins who would tease me and throw dirt clods at me – and crying. I remember being soaked with sweat and covered in mud and tired and sore and not allowed to give up and go back to the house – and crying. I laughed because not that many years later, there is no where else I would rather be.
I used to want to live in a city SO bad. One with stuff to do other than sit on the front porch and watch the sun set and the fireflies come out. Something other than fish or skip rocks in the river that was in my backyard. Somewhere with a grocery store and maybe even a shopping mall! Definitely a McDonald’s, at LEAST. Somewhere where there were new people to meet, and everyone didn’t know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE, and you had people in your classes you’d never met instead of the same 60 people in your grade since kindergarten.
Now that I live in a 24-hour city, with 5 grocery stores within walking distance and a sushi restaurant on every corner (I’d never even HAD sushi before college!), where I know like 5 people and it’s a huge surprise to see a friendly face in public…
Well, I can admit I was wrong.
I take back all my old wishes for a busy, bustling city life. I miss my farm life, where the most important thing to do is literally to watch plants grow. I miss getting dirty, I miss it being OK to have a filthy, muddy car, and filthy, muddy shoes, and walking around in public with a baseball hat and boots, covered in dirt… and fitting right in…
I miss familial arguments and dramatic tears that turned into fits of laughter all in the course of a few minutes during some good, hard, work.
I miss being strong, and being able to lift heavy things!
I miss that simple, happy, farm country life.
When I was that dramatic teenager I vowed my children would never have to go through what I had to go through on that farm.
Now I can’t wait to send my kids to grandpa’s farm for the summer.
That is, if we don’t have our own….
PS for Beth- city people are hard workers too!!!!