From as early as I can probably remember I’ve hungered for the country life, and I’m not quite sure why. Plaid blouses with pearly buttons, farm-fresh eggs from chickens I know by name, land. Lots of open land to wander. I watched Little House on the Prairie faithfully, and not only did I think that Pa (a.k.a. Charles Ingalls, a.k.a. Michael Landon) was the most handsome dad a girl could have (besides mine), I wanted to be Laura Ingalls so darn badly. I wanted her long, straight hair that she wore in braids. I wanted to be a tomboy like her–a little rough around the edges. I wanted to ride horses and take care of sheep and goats and grow vegetables in the fresh soil. I wanted to….well…be something I wasn’t or couldn’t be as a suburbanite child in the late 70’s, early 80’s. But, I craved it in my heart.
During trips to Colorado to visit my grandma and grandpa, I would wake up early with the sunrays and help grandpa feed the chickens. A big scoop of feed in the bucket and off we went. So much fun! They had a coop in the backyard of their home, which wasn’t a farm, but it was “farmlike”, complete with an outhouse my grandpa made, lil’ half moon window in the door. Peaceful. And, they’d let the chickens out to run around…some were nice enough to allow us feel their sleek and soft feathers. Grandma had a garden and grew rhubarb and teeny strawberries, if I remember correctly, and I’m sure there were other treats growing that have since faded from my mind. Grandpa, an artist from which I gleaned a bit of talent, did many western carvings, one of which my mom has hanging in her home on the wall in the den.
As a youngster my parents, while married, listened to country music. I loved the tunes of Anne Murray, Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings, Mickey Gilley, and of course, OF COURSE, Willie Nelson. That twang playing in the background during weekend parties with friends, or while my dad was working in the garage or washing the car, filled me with visions of cowboys riding horses, rodeos, and eating watermelon on red-checkered table cloths. “And, like a rhinestone cowboy!” “On the road again…” “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…”
Harvest time each year meant visits to the local farm stands for pumpkin picking, and local fairs meant petting zoos with goats and sheep. And, as I grew up, driving through the smaller towns of Cali tickled my fancy. I wanted to live in these places, go slower, milk cows, bake bread from scratch, dig in the dirt. Towns with only 200 people in them. I made Maycee’s dad go to Vermont for our honeymoon because I desperately wanted to see the rolling green hills and fall colors, stay in a B & B, and pretend I was one of “them”. When we arrived I couldn’t believe the vast amount of space between homes! We shopped antique store after antique store, and I truly lobbied for us to move to Vermont, well, for a little while, until doing so in vain with my then-husband got old (wink).
In college, my dad and step-mom, Phylis, drove up for a visit and took me to her dad’s property way out in the hills of Humboldt County (no, he wasn’t that kind of farmer). He and his wife owned a large lot, which her dad bought in the ’70s as an investment. Upon retirement, he hand-built a small loft for their home, raised horses, cows, pigs as big as grizzly bears, and farmed all of their food right smack-dab in the middle of “nowhere”. My visit there was amazing; I got to ride one of the ranch horses, no clue what I was doing or where I was going, but the horse knew the way. I was hooked. As my dad loves to say about me, “I was in hooooooog heaven!”
“Kasey, get to the point. So, why are you growing tomatoes?” Growing tomatoes is the beginning of what I hope will become our first garden for next year. I want to test the dirt road, see how green my thumb can be. I love the sweetness of home-grown tomatoes. Store-bought flavor doesn’t even come close. Having a garden (on next year’s resolution list) is a little step towards learning the country life-at least that’s how I feel. Seems silly? Maybe. How old am I? Who cares (and I’m not sayin’ that I’m having a birthday in a few weeks, either.) But, I keep telling Maycee that some day we are going to live on a farm, and according to her, I get to live in the guest house and help scoop poop from all the animals, ha, ha. Yes, I love my eating my first batch of Beefeater tomatoes. They are fabulous! I believe next year we’ll bring on the carrots and the lettuce. That makes for one happy salad-oh, and Maycee loooooooves salad.
So, we’re learning to ride and care for horses (that was last year’s resolution). Now we’re workin’ on growing veggies. I own one plaid shirt that I’ve already worn out but keep wearin’ it, and my cowboy boots bought in Vegas in 1999 still fit. The Yellow Submarine isn’t going anywhere, of this I’m sure today, and where we are is surrounded by ranches and farms and beauty. Little by little, dreams are comin’ true, and if eating my hand-picked tomatoes helps me believe that, well, keep adding the Miracle Grow!
Do you have any dreams that you are pursuing? If so, feel free to share them here. We learn so much from each others’ journeys.
It’s important to dream, Readers, and it’s more important to believe your dreams will come true. Life is short. Don’t wait. Eat a home-grown tomato. And, while you’re thinking of your reponse, give a chuckle! XOXO-SWM