My father was a sugar beet farmer in Colorado, a fact which sculpts my thinking more now than it did when I was hoeing weeds in eternally-long fields as a teenager.
What are we losing as the family farm becomes a blip of historical nostalgia?
- Fewer people know where milk or eggs come from. The correct answer is not Safeway or Walmart.
- Not so many get to see the magnificent thunderclouds, roiling in purples and blacks, marching toward the tender crops. Although there’s fear that a hailstorm could devastate this year’s crop – and income – we participate in the circle of life as those storms approach.
- We’ve lost the appreciation for smells. We demand sweet scents or nothing at all. But I’ve experienced the fresh scent of rain and the sharp slap of animal remains. Why do we shrink from authentic sensory experiences?
- The rhythms of life – which include death – are more readily seen on the farm. I have experienced loss – of a favorite dog, a 4-H cow, a baby lamb. The sting of loss never gets easier but I’m glad that I’m not numb to it.
- I’ve heard corn grow, the pops of expansion as the leaves stretch out toward the sky.
- I’ve seen the stages of soil, from slimy mud to sun-parched jigsaw pieces. I know the rain will come. Someday. And I know the snows are followed by seeds punched into the ground, soon to emerge in a green fringe across the landscape.
I could go on but my understanding – and the way I write – has been molded by the seasons and the rawness of senses. I am born of the land, walking a unique path. And I love it.