But while I am gone, I am reading a book called The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. It is the story of a city girl who married a farmer. I am only a few chapters in, but I am enthralled, and I find myself so incredibly moved by her words.
And I moved because, I realize, they are my words too.
As much as you transform the land by farming, farming transforms you. It seeps into your skin along with the dirt that abides permanently in the creases of your thickened hands, the beds of your nails ... farming takes root in you and crowds out other endeavors, makes them seem paltry. Your acres become a world. And maybe you realize that it is beyond those acres or in your distant past, back in the ream of TiVo and cublicles, of take-out food and central heat and air, in that country where discomfort has nearly disappeared, that you were deprived. Deprived of the pleasure of desire, of effort and difficulty and meaningful accomplishment. A farm asks, and if you don't give enough, the primordial forces of death and wilderness will overrun you. So naturally you give, and then you give some more, and then you give to the point of breaking, and then and only then it gives back, so bountifully it overfills not only your root cellar but also that parched and weedy little patch we call the soul.
I laugh about the fact that I am a farmer's wife.
That I am a farmer.
But even though I have many other dreams and things I want to do (write a book and travel more just to name a few), I realize that I could never not be doing this farming thing anymore. I no longer belong in the suburbs. My husband never belonged there. But I did. And now? Well now, I don't belong there either. And I can never return.
Here's what Wendi and Kristin learned during my/her transformation:
How was it possible that this abundance had always existed, and I had not known it? I felt, of all damn things, safe. Anything could happen in the world. Planes could crash into buildings, jobs could disappear, people could be thrown out of their apartments, oil could run dry, but here, at least, we would eat.
The farmer she married?
He didn't like the word work. That's a pejorative. He preferred to call it farming, as in I farmed for fourteen hours today. He did not own a television or radio and figured he was probably one of the last people in the country to know about September 11. Still doesn't listen to the news. It's depressing, and there's nothing you can do about most of it anyway. You have to think locally, act locally, and his definition of local didn't extend much beyond the fifteen acres of land he was farming. The thing was to try to understand how you were affecting the world around you.
YES! YES! YES!
Of course, as a Christian, I would sprinkle my desire to LOVE people into those sentences -- to discuss that my other great calling is to simply show people love. But Kristin's words are my words. They are exactly how I am feeling. I am trying to change my world just one 96-acre farm at a time! That's me! Just focusing on whether we are recycling and how much waste we are accumulating and whether or not we have too much garbage ourselves.
Her husband had ditched cookbooks and gone freelance, adhering to a few simple principles: keep your knives sharp, taste everything, and don't be stingy with the salt. His love of food was part of what eventually led him to farming. The only way he'd be able to afford the quality of food he craved, he said, was to become a banker or grow it himself, and he couldn't sit still long enough to be a banker.
Egads! I think she married my husband!!!
I still have many more pages to read. But for now may I tell you that this vacation, while physically helping me recover from the life of a farmer, is emotionally helping me recover as well. I've struggled recently. Why are we doing this? Should we do this? And mostly: This is really hard.
But the truth is the same no matter which way I look at it.
This is the life we want to live!! We are raising our food and children on our farm.
And we wouldn't have it any other way!