Sunday, September 25, 2011

BACK ON THE FARM; part 5; By A Farm Woman Who Went Back; 1930

We never dreamed of Massachusetts. Yet here we are, I on my mountain top--one that is broad enough, however, that our cows are in no danger of being part of a landslide--and he, rebuilding a run down farm. Not his own, but he's planning buildings, studying fertilizers, going cautiously, challenging both brawn and wits, that these New England hills give back their best to us.

It seems like something I've always been waiting for, this country. From the moment I wound up the mountain to my home, the far awayness of everything, the sleepiness, made me wonder if this might not have been the original habitat of Old Rip, instead of the Catskills. If these New Englanders could go to Iowa, they might return and see their land with new eyes. Not that Iowa is not beautiful, with her broad black acres criss-crossed with baby corn as pie crust used to stripe my mother's cranberry pies; with young oats covering the earth like a velvet green carpet.

Yet the broad stern acres seem to challenge one. Here the land--not the people, for no people could be kindlier than Iowans--seem friendlier. Beauty is so riotous. It lures one away from work. It seems to say, "Relax, we will take care of you--"

Still, how a living can be wrung from these rocks I have yet to learn. As I coast down the mountain these homes that crowd close to the pavement mystify me. I want to go inside, know the people. In Iowa I did not feel so about the homes I passed. There, I knew the spirit. Here I have yet to learn it.

Skeptics may wonder if the realization of my dream equals the dream itself. I only repeat:  Life is one thrill after another. My youngest son leaping down the garden path, arms and legs at all angles, as he goes each early morning, to feed his baby chicks; my husband and sons surveying in the pasture, or the sound of their voices coming to my opened window  as they work in the garden below me; the whole family gathered around "Dad" by the stove as he tries to feed warm milk, with a spoon, to a chilled baby pig, each child jealously eager to do his bit, hold a spoon, a cup--! Farming is such a family affair, and as such, it is the source of my thrills.