Every girl can have a dream, right?
And whether or not that dream will ever be a reality is another thing. Mine may never come true, but I still think about it and it takes me to a happy, peaceful place.
I suppose mine started, unbeknownst to me, as a little girl when I spent lots of time working the dirt. My father taught me how to plant beans and tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. We planted flowers together, and no spring was complete without going to the greenhouse.
Something happened there that I'm not sure I fully appreciated at the time, but I developed a love for good food and the satisfaction of getting your feet and hands dirty---breathing in fresh air and really smelling it.
There's just something about it.
I also developed a love of work.
I LOVE to work.
I read a book, a memoir, maybe five? years ago, and I fell in love with the concept of land and farming in a way I never had before. And I'm 100% positive it's a bit romanticized (owning it!), but it resonated so deeply with me: land, work, simplicity, and the beauty inherent in that connectedness.
I absolutely love art and culture and literature and music and learning; I was raised to appreciate those things, but I also think I have a personal bent toward them. I'm frequently in my head, spinning ideas around, and I love books and being enlightened by chewing on other people's thoughts. I knew I had a love affair with words and writing and expression by the time I was in high school.
I expect that will never change.
But, at the heart, I think I'm a bit of a country girl. I've never been trendy or much of a shopper. Consumerism and materialism don't satisfy me. I don't need a lot of THINGS to make me happy. Besides...the shoe kinda fits. I mean, I DID choose to homeschool (though that may be coming to a close), and I AM passionate about natural childbirth. I love canning and making food from scratch and lighting fires and I have fond memories of chopping firewood in the woods with my dad and sisters.
When I go to my dream place, I imagine having a piece of land. Maybe a wrap-around porch to watch the sun set. Maybe a horse or two. I imagine country runs and morning quiet. A farm dog, maybe, and chickens. I imagine my family there; my children and grandchildren, and I think about cooking big meals for all of these people that I love and coming together. I imagine a warm home where the porch light calls you in and there's peace there.
But. Let's just rein in that thought for a sec, peeps.
That isn't my reality today.
My current equivalent will make you laugh but I'll share it anyway.
I've never been hunting in my life, but for quite a while now, I've wanted to go. I've wanted to experience that with a man I love, and I've wanted to be more connected to that process because I take it for granted every day. But one day I'd love to go on the hunt and participate in a harvest and do it; like really DO IT. And I want my children in on it, too. I want to get my hands dirty with it. And then know what it is to package it up and store it away and feel gratitude for that animal sustaining me and my family. Just today, on an 8-mile run, I found myself thinking about my shocking indifference, because I don't ever really think about the fact that some animal's life was ended to sustain mine. I mean, sure, I think about it; but how often do I stop and feel gratitude and respect for that animal, for its life?
A few weeks ago I was thinking about this again: doing the work of getting meat and storing it away. Dinner was done and I still had a mountain to do that night, miles to go before sleep. I put the boys on kitchen cleanup and headed outside to the deck to tackle 40 pounds of chicken under the lights.
Butcher knife. (Check.)
Cutting board. (Check.)
Get my game on. (Check.)
And as I sat there handling COLD fresh chicken that had never been frozen, cutting off the extra bits and getting the jelly off of it, Mia held the bags open for me and we enjoyed listening to the Weepies.
And I felt righteously industrious.
(I hope you're laughing now, but it's totes true.)
I LOVE the satisfaction of getting it done and filling my freezer with meat. And, ridiculous though it may sound, invoking my pioneer spirit of taking care of my family and working together on our "piece of land."
Okay, I know.
(Hardy-har-har and guffaw. Go ahead. Keep laughing.)
It's just my simple two-bum kitchen, my four people and me, my little house, and my yard. And we live in a very non-country neighborhood, although we do have wide streets that I love.
My grandparents farmed.
They worked the land and had respect for it.
(My dad (left) with his brother Rick and Laddie)
My dad roamed the hills of western Montana on horseback.
He combed that land with his dog, Laddie. He drove a tractor at 3, and by the time he was 6, he was helping his grandfather with haying and lots of other chores when he spent weeks on their ranch in the summer.
(Dad in his duds as a little guy)
It all resonates with me, and it has for a long time.
I find myself yearning for that life without throwing away some of today's modern conveniences. (I love the computer and camera and notepad that is my iPhone, for example, and I heart the crazy access to information that is Google and the internet and modern technology. I certainly appreciate plumbing and electricity and refrigeration and a furnace. Love me a hot shower and some perfume. Yup. Sure do. Super grateful.)
Maybe it's why I feel happy when my feet are in the mud, and maybe it's also why I am always running toward quiet: I love country roads and fields, places where my mind can wander and roam, places where I feel free and open and at peace.
I can find myself there.
In those quiet places, my life becomes organized again: I can hear my own thoughts, identify what's truly important in my heart, and I come home ready to live my life again.
Because it's a beautiful life.