Being raised on a farm affects one profoundly. Being raised on a farm is so acutely part of my dad that his boyhood experiences surface now and again–long after the boy has left the farm–as a personality trait. Farm life is a fiber of his being that sinks down to his achy knees and runs through the weathered veins in his hands, inspiring his knees to painfully plod down hills on the farm and his hands to joyfully cup fresh eggs on any chance he can get.
When I first moved to this pie-shaped piece of rocky soil that runs along the bank where the lake empties into the sun-kissed river…
I never thought Dad would walk the land with me. I never thought he’d help water our garden, or walk to our coop with me, or watch the sun paint the evening sky beyond our tree line while standing by my side.
While garnering a factory job and raising a nuclear family in suburbia called him away from rural farm life long ago, I have no memories of summer heat when I didn’t spend time in my father’s little suburban gardens…
I longed for him to spend time in my rural rows of green, edible growth. Rows that resembled those of his farm-boy memories.
I’m thankful I was wrong. I’m thankful he’s seen two of our New-England-summer gardens…
…and even opened gifts beside me last Christmas morning. His visits have taught me that his boyhood farm, long-since overrun and deserted in the rolling hills of West Virginia, is still an intricate part of him, now in his 80th year.
One of his first days of his recent visit, his elderly feet shuffled along on the downhill walk to the chicken coop and the duck house. His knees weren’t too sure of their ability to navigate the slope, but his feet were slowly determined.
He was unsure footed stepping up, and then back down, the concrete-block steps of our old chicken house. His unsure balance wouldn’t allow him to bend into the 3-foot-high duck house to confiscate the duck eggs, so I gathered those jewels for him.
He gingerly placed each egg in his bucket and slowly shuffled back to the house. I asked him if he’d like to collect the eggs every day of his stay with us. His unhesitant smirk made it clear that his comment was joyful nostalgia of sweet boyhood days long gone by. “It’s been a long time since I gathered the chicken’s eggs.”
I knew he’d be doing the downhill egg shuffle again tomorrow.
What IS it about a farm that brings out youthful joy? Maybe it brings such pleasure because it was what we were originally made to do. It was, after all, the first occupation. Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable. Being raised on a farm is in the fiber of his being; it sinks down to his achy knees, shuffling along to the coop, and runs through the weathered veins of his hands, cradling the day’s crop of eggs.
Last weekend Dad celebrated his 80th birthday. I love that old farm boy who himself is part of my own fiber. I hope to soon convince him to retire to our little farm. Retire back to his youth.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Genesis 2:15