We’ve been in our new house for a month now. Odd—sometimes I feel like I’ve been here only a few short days. The move from a bustling suburb to the expanse and quiet of a farming community has been . . . strange. There are some characteristics of this town that I’m sure my new neighbors—some of whom have lived here their whole lives–don’t even notice. But I just can’t seem to get over them. Things like:
I walk down the middle of the road for a mile to pick up Jack from school. We walk in the middle of the road for a mile to make our way home. If Jack walked in the middle of the road in the ‘burbs, I guarantee he’d be grounded.
I’ve lived in suburban neighborhoods all my life. There, every piece of land is used with efficiency. Each plot has a purpose. Here? Well, yes. And no. I keep wondering what the people that own all this space are going to do with it. I’m starting to realize that the answer may be nothing. Nothing at all. It’s simply to have space.
These fields, bordering our backyard, are being harvested now. Rumbling Christmas-green John Deere tractors pull towering, Christmas-red machines behind them. Somehow the red machine pulls the corn stalks from the ground and tosses them into itself. I haven’t gotten close enough to see how it all works yet. But I’m very curious about the farmers in this town. I want to meet one of them. I want to ask how it all works. I hope one of them will share a story or two with me, sometime.
There are onion farms around here too. Over the last several weeks I’ve seen dozens of dump trucks driving along, filled with so many onions you can see them crowning on top of each load. Papery onion skins flutter behind the trucks like a swarm of brown (or white, or purple) butterflies.
I saw my first onion truck on the first day I walked to school to pick up Jack. The truck whizzed by, onion skins flying. I stopped, surprised, and turned to watch it pass. When I looked to the road ahead of me again, there lay a little onion, one side slightly broken from its fall out of the truck. I carried it all the way to the school and then home, thinking about how that onion came to be in my hand. After all the effort of seeding, growing, watering, feeding, harvesting, and trucking, I couldn’t leave it on the road. We had the good half in our dinner that night.
Okay, there’s only been one so far. And we missed it! Apparently when we were gone one day a neighbor’s cows got loose. As another neighbor tells it, the cows always like to escape to our backyard. Their hooves left deep impressions in our grass. In a few years I might find the holes irritating. This year, I find it amusing.
Meanwhile, as a family, we’re getting used to our new home. The boys are:
But the newest farming-town novelty for us?
Bretty dug a hole far from the house one day, deep and perfectly round. That night, we put it to the test.
We still can’t get over that we can build a fire in our backyard. Sure we’ve sat fireside, camping in the mountains with our tents and sleeping bags and coolers. But in our backyard? With a fully-plumbed potty only a few steps away? What a treat!
* * * * *
I’ve spent most of my life living against the mountains—always just a few short miles, or even blocks, from a mountain trailhead. Spent several years on the bench. Moving far away from the mountains, I thought I would miss being so close. I thought I would miss seeing the details of their craggy rocks from my yard. Instead, I’m enjoying the mountains in a whole new way. Against the backdrop of big sky.
So much space. What to do with it all? We have lots of ideas. But this fall, while we’re still getting our bearings, it’s been decided. What will we do with our new space? Nothing. This year, we’re taking a cue from how this little farming town lives. This year, we’ll use our space simply to have space.
But spring? Spring’s another story. Stay tuned.