The country roads where we live are filled with hills and turns. In the summer, it’s common to find yourself behind a large tractor, one you can’t see past to know if he might be turning off any time soon. So you sit back behind the steering wheel and relax, figuring you might as well enjoy where you are since you have little control of what’s in front of you.
This time of year, the tractors and equipment have been stowed away. I imagine the old farmer down the road enjoys this rest, being able to relax and not worry about getting the seed down in time or harvesting before the crop turns. The rare times I have seen him, in the front yard of his comparatively tiny house on what I guess are hundreds of acres, are for me probably alongside what would be celebrity sightings for others, in mostly that I have heard him mentioned in plenty of conversations around our small town but have never had the chance to meet him, or see him face to face for that matter. This has made me question what it means to be famous, pondering it alongside other deep questions while I stare at my dark bedtime ceiling.
The times I have caught glimpses of the farmer, usually walking back to one of his barns, he has always been wearing the same thing – a white undershirt and blue jeans. I can hear him saying that it has always done the job, so why change, in a tone my grandfather would have used when frustrated at how the world has complicated itself. I like to think he has done things the same way he did when he started farming, learning from his father and maybe his father before him.
Sometimes, when passing by, I get the rare thrill of seeing the farmer’s wife. This makes me happy the same way my daughter is happy when she sees elderly people eating together – “I don’t think anything makes me sadder than seeing an older person eating alone. It makes me just want to pick up my plate and sit across from them.”
Mostly the joy I receive from witnessing this couple from afar, I concluded that night staring at my ceiling, is the same reason why people want to know about the famous – I don’t actually know them, but I love to catch glimpses of them and what I imagine is their idyllic life – waking with the sun and tired in time for bed. Life according to the earth’s natural cycle, living and growing from its abundance in summer and resting in winter to do the same the following year, little in the way of technology to improve upon that which nature already has a firm grasp. I find comfort in that what they do now hasn’t changed much since they started. That when boiled down to the seed and soil, an ear of corn from down the road will always taste better than one from the grocery, the bug-resistant, laboratory version included.
What I also know is that the ideas in my head, even though some of it true, is a rose-colored version. In our short time on our farm, I already know what it’s like to deal with drought and rain, rabbits and coyotes and young, tear-filled eyes, broken pipes and pests that eat your garden. And I still choose it. And seeing this couple who have continued to choose it year after year reminds me that I’m not crazy for still being here as well, just a short few years in.