Entering Farmland

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The craggy farmer said ‘Ma’am” to me and I felt like an old woman. At least an older woman.

What was it that was so weird? He wasn’t a teenager or a young man saying “Ma’am”; he was my age and maybe older. Maybe not.

Outdoor workers look older than their urban counterparts. The sun, the hard physical labor…and maybe simply never having to worry about getting all the dirt out of the creases. These are not well-ironed office staff. These businessmen negotiate cows or tractors and rows of corns and haystacks rather than deals.

He sent me to look elsewhere, so I drove a distance. I crossed the cultural divide, drove my sedan into the world of John Deere. I drove into a space without obvious roads, walkways, entrances… stopped the car in the middle I think and looked to my left and right. Where to find a human being to ask? I had come in search of 10 bales of hay.

Such quiet and no clues. But just then a child’s laughter pulls my focus to the extreme left.

A picture perfect family scene is on display. Two parents sitting on the edge of their porch and two children–one girl and one boy–in the lawn below them, playing. The girl is somersaulting and practicing handstands; the boy, more cautious, is tossing and trying to catch his baseball cap.

A split second to capture the idyllic image…Leave it to Beaver transplanted to the farm.

I turn my car around and park it as if by an imaginary curb and walk into the picture. Green grass at my feet, I make my way toward the house, its porch and America at rest after a long day of work. The girl engages me asking if I want to see her stunts. Another perfect moment as I smile yes and stop pointedly to observe this 7 year old show off her budding gymnastic talents. If the long walk through their green lawn isn’t enough, this pause gives the parents more time to observe the intruder.

I grew up in cities. What idyllic view of family life can one conjure up for my kind of child? A family of four all riding down the elevator together?

Never mind. We’re in New England farm land now.