I grew up a country girl, more so than the way my boys are growing up. My parents built their house in Powdersville back in 1977. Back then Powdersville was nothing more than the Winn Dixie, an awesome hot dog stand and a dairy farm on a two lane stretch of highway. Our back yard butted up to a horse pasture and our front yard looked out at a cow pasture. My parents lived (and still do) on one acre in what was then a very desolate area.
I grew up without the suburban neighborhood feel that my kids have now. We shucked corn in our backyard, as we fed the horses. We had cows randomly walk into our front yard, pot bellied pigs, chickens, and even deer. We didn’t own any of the livestock, it was just part of the scenery of our home.
We also had a garden, small by normal farm standards, but more than large enough to feed our family for an entire year. My mama canned 52 quart jars of green beans a year, over a hundred quarts of tomatoes, not to mention the okra, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers we had. In the fall, my daddy would turn the land and we’d plant rows of turnips, and once again my mama would can and freeze turnip greens like it was no one’s business. My Saturday mornings during the Spring and Summer consisted of rising well before all the cool rich kids who lived in the burbs, and harvesting the garden before the heat of the day took over. The afternoons were spent in mama’s kitchen popping beans and helping her can. This was my childhood, and as a child, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but now? Well, life was simple back then.
Dave and I chose to build a house in a subdivision, something he somewhat had and something I NEVER had as a child, but now I’m wishing we had land with the ability to plant and harvest and even raise chickens and goats. I wish my boys had the childhood I had and so when the occasion allows, I try to encourage that with my kids.
Today, I decided to take them on an adventure so they could at least experience the wonderfully cool outdoor air and even a little bit of work. Today we decided to ride up to Justus Orchard and pick blackberries.
I would love to see things through a child’s eyes. Davey does a good job of at least offering up a description for me. As we rode north into North Carolina, the clouds were hanging low over the mountains. Davey was fascinated. He described how he was sure if he were on those mountains, he’d be able to touch those clouds and “don’t you think they would feel like marshmallows, mom?” He was fascinated with the mountains, spying something different on each one even through the driving rain. Every one of them, he wanted to hike up, “to the very top, mom, where I can almost touch God’s hand.” See? How great does this sound? The drive alone was worth it.
When me made it to the orchard, the boys jumped out, rain boots already on (how are we going to jump in mud puddles without rain boots?), and an eagerness to just run between the rows and rows of blackberry bushes.
They both helped pick for a while until suddenly a duck bill popped its way between two of the bushes. There were ducks! All sorts of ducks, just roaming freely through the orchard. The boys took chase and quickly left the blackberry picking to me. Naturally, I stopped periodically to take pictures (I never leave home without my camera). The boys didn’t put in any hard work, but how wonderful it was just to have them all muddy and covered in blackberry stains. They were having fun! It was the kind of fun I had as a kid.
When we were ready to leave, Davey said, “mom, I’d like to live here.” Yeah me too. You see, I may not be the smartest lass in the land, but I know what hard work is and I know that there’s nothing like country life…living it, breathing it, and just soaking it in. On the drive back home, I thought about all those poor kids who are sitting inside, iPads and computers in front of them. Yeah, they might be geniuses and they might be the next great inventor, but what happens one day should those computers and electronics go away?
Country folks can survive, to quote Bocephus himself.