Friday, February 29, 2008
A Country Life
I come from a farming, gardening family going back generations. My great-great grandparents farmed in Nebraska, as did my great-grandparents . My grandparents had their little 40 acre farm in the Ozarks, the setting of some of my fondest childhood memories.
My grandfather had degrees in journalism and horticulture. Like so many college-educated women of her generation, Grandma studied home economics. Grandma had grown up on the family farm, Grandpa was the son of immigrants and grew up in New York City. He dreamed his whole life of being a farmer. Finally as their children were becoming young adults and economics allowed, they made that dream come true with the purchase of the little farm and orchard in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
My mom and stepfather live partially off their own land on 68 acres with woods, meadows, wildlife, fruit trees, berry bushes and brambles, perennial gardens, and huge vegetable gardens where they grow and preserve a bounty that sees them through each year from harvest to harvest.
Although they own enough acreage for livestock, they limit their production to fruits and vegetables. They buy most of their meat, dairy, and eggs from Amish and organic farmers in their community, and other staples through local co-ops and buying clubs. In doing so they help support and sustain the local farming economy.
Because so much of it is undeveloped and unfarmed, their small piece of heaven on earth is mostly a wild and beautiful flora and fauna preserve existing unmolested and unharmed much as it would have long before Columbus.
They participate in an ecologically-sound forestry management program. They re-use, recycle, or compost most of the little bit of waste they generate. They are shining examples of organic gardening, buying local, supporting this country's endangered family farming culture, and sustainable, energy-conscious, environmentally sound living, and they get to live here:
This is a bit of my heritage which may serve to illuminate my recently recurring fantasy of a country life. My kids, at least for now, live reasonably close. Two of them are in the city about an hour away, and one is closer about 30 minutes away in the suburbs. Two of my three girls have started families. I have one grandchild and counting. In part because it's hard to imagine living any further away from my daughters and my grandchildren, it's hard to think about pursuing that country life fantasy.
Yet there's a deep part of me dreaming of a country life. Is it nature or nurture? I guess it's a bit of both. And it seems it's something I've passed on to at least one of my daughters, who like me and generations before us, long for country life.
My mom and stepfather, and grandparents weren't much older than me, and like me, their kids were grown and mostly on their own, when they took the plunge and made their country-life dreams come true.
For now and for the foreseeable future my country dreams will remain dreams. Sometimes though, a familiar yearning takes hold. . . And on February days like this, when it's too cold to work it out in my suburban back yard garden, it can be palpable.