"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Visit To Grandma's Farm Alone

       It is easy to forget that farm events that were so predictable and commonplace when my children were growing up are strange and unknown to my grand-kids.  When Danny slipped away from us, the lever moved and we were no longer on the farm-train.  The rhythms of harvest and haying, working the soil, planting the wheat, building fence and working cattle were not part of our lives anymore.  When I try to recreate those moments for my grand-children I find the experiences lack the luster, the energy I suppose, I remember from the past.  We lived within the rhythms then, and now I watch them happen outside my windows.
    M came to the farm on Friday for a one-on-one day with me.  (As an aside: Z told me the other day that it wasn't a farm if it didn't have any animals. That isn't strictly true, and I DO still have the two cats and some fish. Apparently those don't really count as farm animals. I hear what he's saying, sadly.) M probably wishes I would play more and work less when she is here, but she also knows there is much to do. She loves the prayer garden, which she calls The Secret Garden, because it is so beautiful and peaceful.  I watched her dance around the paths and smell the blooming Iris. Wind Chimes rang and she created a secret space behind the Butterfly chair and the roses where she could sit and be quiet.
    Then I asked her to help me pull the Botany-Badge plants out of the Lantana, piling the weeds and trimmings into two wagons. We hauled them away to compost and came back for some weed pulling and a little planting of new plants.  She said she wished we didn't have to work in the Secret Garden; that we could only sit and sing and dance.  I reminded her of the book, The Secret Garden, and asked if she remembered what the three children had done in that neglected space before they could play and dance. She did remember. They had worked and worked to uncover the forgotten plants; worked for weeks before the garden came back to life. That is the dirty little secret of beautiful garden spaces: they require lots of care and attention to keep them lovely and peaceful. Isn't that always the way it is.

     M is an interesting girl: she loves beautiful princess things, yes, but she also loves horses and riding; she likes to cook and is a huge help in my gardens, working hard for me and being careful with the growing things. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She loves a snake hunt with the best of them.  She is finding out who she is, what her gifts are, what her loves will be.  I'm glad she is trying different things. We are all 'many-faceted' and it is good to keep trying new things.
    After the gardening, she and I went to the garage in search of the box of new fairy lights. We intended to put them up in her new secret space.  Once we were in the garage we decided to fix the bike tires so she could ride. We had three tires to replace in all. We finished the 16" one, so the smaller bike was done.  We finished the front tire on the 20" bike and started in on the back tire. All this time she worked and worked, helping with pushing and pulling, loosening and tightening bolts, searching for wrenches and trying them.
    The stubborn bolt won. We tried everything we could think of, but it wouldn't budge. We needed water and a break anyway, so we left it soaked in penetrating oil and headed to the house.  The nut never did yield, so we changed clothes and headed to town to buy her a new bike for the farm. 
She rode up and down the driveway and down the oil well road, happy as a lark as the western sky began to darken with rain clouds.
   The alfalfa had been swathed a couple of days before and they had raked it that morning. We noticed someone was out in the field baling round bales, the classic example of racing the rain, trying to get the hay baled before the storms reach you and it is ruined.  It hit me that she didn't know the excitement of that experience, so we climbed into the car and drove out to park alongside the field and watch. We rolled the windows down so she could feel the cold air as the wind grew stronger. We had brought along a quilt for her to snuggle under.
       Back and forth the tractor raced, gobbling the windrows and stopping to roll out a wrapped bale, starting again. There were rows and rows left to bale and she began urging him on--go faster! hurry! you have to save it!--I smiled at her excitement, knowing what an exhilarating feeling that is.  We stayed until after bedtime, listening to the soundtrack of the movie Moana, and then came in, read a couple of books and she crawled into her bed, one tired little farm girl. I sat on the porch swing for a long time, watching him bale with the lights; back and forth, back and forth, stop, empty, go again.
      The rains did come, in a big way, that night. Thunder that shook the house and cold winds as accompaniment to 'sheets and blankets' of water. Creeks broke out of their banks and the fields ran with water.  All the hay was safely baled and wrapped, however, and M and I were safe in our warm house.
 The rain continued through the following day and the rattlesnake hunt we were planning to attend was canceled, so she and I spent the morning playing table games: Jacks and Racko, Go Fish and War (with three decks), Toss the Pigs, and others.  We moved to the piano and sang every patriotic song she knew and worked on reading the words to songs with several verses (it can be tricky).  It wore us both out and we ended up needing a long nap. She wasn't tired; I knew that, but she managed to sleep peacefully for two solid hours anyway.  Yay!
     "A good time was had by all!", as they say in these parts.


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