I grew up in the city. Lots of little houses built in the 1950s spaced along grassy green knolls just waiting to be frolicked on by kickball-playing little kids. We played until dark greeting the chirping crickets with our own yelps of “you’re out” or “you’re it!” We loved our life. We didn’t worry about sprawl or chemical pesticides or global warming. We had a few bikes stolen, heard a few gunshots, and had a “black sheep” drug-dealing neighbor’s son. But all in all, we had a blissfully sweet city growing-up life.
Our field trip to the Farm to Table show last Friday
Before we ever moved in junior high to our country town, we took family trips to the rural, cow-raising, corn-planting town where my mom’s parents lived; where my grandfather grew up on his father’s land and where he raised his children to know the difference between a broccoli plant and a beet top.
I learned to identify honeysuckle by the smell carried on a soft summer breeze, and pick strawberries ripe from the plant in the hot afternoon sun while waving away the gnats hanging heavy over my head.
Cheese from a local farm
I had the perfect mix of big city living and quiet country days. I understood the hard work of those who rise before dawn, travel an hour to get to an office, where they toil under bright flourescent lights before returning home at dusk. And the hard work of those who wake before roosters, plow fields and fight weeds all day before coming in to a big country dinner cooked by a knowing farmer’s wife.
And somehow, whether I pass big glass buildings and pedestrian streets filled with bakeries, florist and bookstores or whether it’s row after blooming row of green bean plants heavy for harvest, I fit. Each feels like a second skin, natural and easy and hard all at the same time.
I yearn to grow crops but know at this point it’s growing crops or growing kids and the kids win this time. We might put in a few things but not the hillside urban garden I ache for. For now, I’ll be content to reap the benefits of someone else’s hard work and breathe deeply when I pass neatly organized fields.
he looks so grown up!
Also having a hillside garden with all your deer friends wouldn’t be much fun ;/
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