I was raised with the mountain out my back door and the ocean out the front. My husband grew up on a dairy farm. Our new home has merged the two: a bucolic landscape guarded stoically by mountains, washed softly in glimpses of the ocean. Heaven. Surreal. We have basked in it, wallowed in it, shouted our glee from the balcony while the grasshoppers knocked their knobbly knees in approval, seconded by the chirp of crickets.
This week, DH was wrapped in memories as the field behind was cut, the hay dried and then baled. He remembers the harsh winters, the long summer hours and the hard work. He remembers hefting the heavy bales (apparently, nothing like the “easy” forklifting going on in this farmer’s field J), envying cousins who lived in town, and dying to get back to school for a break. Yet, he watched the clearing of the field wistfully.
I was right there with him. Although my rural experience was somewhat different on the east coast, I remember the wandering cattle, the sheep clustered around the mailbox and the old-fashioned scything of the hay and the manual pitchfork turning. I remember the smell of the freshly cut grass and the camaraderie of my cousins. I too smiled at the scene in the distance.
Reality hit shortly thereafter when the farmer spread manure. His field backs directly onto our property, so it was as though he had dumped the load in our backyard. It was thirty degrees and we desperately needed some air in the house, but we closed every window. Lordy, that is not a smell I recall, nor is it one that I want tickling my olfactory senses. DH laughed, recalling the scent quite well, but no more enamoured of it than I. Two very warm days followed with windows sealed tight. A sigh of relief when he was done, and the joy returned as we once again sat on the balcony soaking in our pastoral views, hoping our farmer did not fertilize again until cooler weather.
Another unexpected aspect of our newfound rural life is produce. I am excited by the emergence of fresh fruit. Grape vines wrap the veranda and are producing a healthy crop of delicious green grapes. An Italian plum tree is ripe, dropping its bounty daily. Pears and apples are slowly coming into season. All of this is happening despite extremely dry conditions and with no help from us. You gotta love that.
I have spent the last 30+ years in a city. I got everything I needed from a store. Now it is in my back yard. I am thrilled daily by these surprises. But, I don’t know what to do with any of it beyond the obvious of eating the fresh fruit as is.
DH and I must put our heads together and truly combine the wisdom of our younger years to come up with a plan to take advantage of what nature is so kindly offering. We have explored life in the city together. Now, we must come full circle and join our country hearts to make the best of everything this new life has to offer.