Simpler Things, Simpler Times

I am a middle-aged attorney/shareholder and division leader in my firm. I make good money. I have three wonderful children, a husband of 15 years and a big house in the Northern Suburbs of Minneapolis. So why do I miss the farm?

I grew up on a small beef cattle farm in Buckman, Minnesota. I picked rocks every spring as soon as I was strong enough to lift the small ones and I weeded the garden, baled hay and helped to care for the animals. We worked hard, but we also played hard. Animals were everywhere: cats and kittens, pigs and piglets, chickens, geese, dogs, a horse and of course lots of cows and calves. Life, death, and reproduction were a part of our every day life. My memories are filled with long summer days, running and playing in the creek by our house and building forts. I can still feel the sensation and exhilaration of taking a hot shower and dropping into bed totally exhausted after a hard day of baling hay. There is no bed that ever felt better and no sleep that was so restful.

My heart is in Buckman. The farm was sold many years ago and my parents retired to town. When we visit I always ask my husband to drive slowly past our farm. I have an overwhelming urge to jump from the vehicle and run home. I can’t explain it, but despite the fact that I have not lived there for over 25 years, it still looks and feels like home. How can one place on earth become so much a part of me that despite the years, the education, the job, husband, children and the good times in my current life that I long for it so.

When I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to leave for college and see what the world had in store for me. My parents encouraged higher education. To try to better ourselves is still a strong value in our family, probably a result of our immigrant heritage. It at least must have temporarily overpowered our connection with the land.

But, the old adage “You can take the girl off the farm, but never take the farm out of the girl,” is truly wise. Despite my success and happiness, at times I am a fish out of water. Something for me always seems to be missing. It is a grieving process with no closure. It is a fantasy for me to daydream about, leaving the city behind and moving back to the farm. Leaving the traffic jams, the stress, noise and life flying by at hyper speed. I fantasize about getting up in the morning, skipping the shower, hair and make up and instead of the suit, throwing on a pair of jeans and heading out to sit on the front steps to pet the dog with my morning coffee before setting out to feed the animals and weed the garden. Do our relatives and friends who had the guts to stay and preserve their way of life really live like that while we run on in the rat race of the city or is my perception a fantasy? Or, is it that age old problem that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Do we long for what we don’t have?

I have come to the realization, unfortunately, that my longing is a product of age and greener pastures. Yes, I am getting older. What I long for is an era gone by. An age when times and things were more simple. My relatives and friends on the farm work very hard and worry daily about the joan_simpler thingsweather, the prices of the products, farm conglomerates and how to maintain a living in a business and a way of life that is slowly being choked out.

They run their kids to activities and worry about violence and how to encourage their children to become responsible and productive adults just like we do. I know my fantasy is probably just that, a fantasy. But, I will always envy those who stayed for being able to have coffee on the steps while petting the dog. It took a lot of guts for those who stayed. I will always miss my basic connection to the farm and the memories that attend it.

I miss the era gone by, but also the way of life that still exists. I have learned to attempt to fill my void by living on 2 ½ acres of woods in a busy city. I have dogs and feed the wild birds. I volunteer at the humane society and take my kids out into the woods as often as possible. I plant flowers and vegetables and dig in the dirt.

I will never have the farm back or that way of life, but it is a part of my very being and brings a smile to my face in stressful and busy times. Others from the city may have memories of growing up, but the farm is a part of the very essence of my being. If you see a lawyer with dirt under her nails, it’s me, and I am proud of it.

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