|My daughter holding Elsie|
The obvious answer is that I inherited it from my once upon a time Farm-Girl Mother.
Were those my formative years then? I was 8 years old when my mother and father moved us from the pavement smothered, smog filled highways of San Diego to 14 living breathing acres in the Flathead Valley, to Montana.
I watched as empty barns and faded out-buildings were dressed in fresh red paint. I played in the dirt as fences were repaired and painted, and I caught frogs in the deep shade of the gulley while, as if by farm-girl magic the animals appeared. 50 hens in the coop, goats in the paddock, 2 cows for milk and 1 for meals, pigs for bacon and horses for riding, a farm dog for companionship, and a striped little barn cat to handle the mice.
I can see her now, bandana kerchief holding back her beautiful chestnut hair, blue jeans and a flannel shirt. She is walking to the barn as the sun rises with milk pails in her hands. The cat follows with her tail raised high. There is bag balm near the sink, sterilized gallon jars lined up neatly on the counter top, waiting for their morning fill of creamy fresh milk.
She is on her knees in the pea patch, nearly 1/2 an acre of garden around her. She is grinding grain, selling eggs, putting food by in glossy happy jars. She is mixing herbs, and making tinctures, plucking feathers, and bottle feeding goats, sewing aprons, and baking bread. She is a living example of everything I would grow up wanting to be.
Of course! I think to myself, it is her. My mama, the starter for my farm-girl loaf. And then I pause, my chickens scratching about the yard in the early morning light leaves me breathless with a contentment that reaches far beyond my bones, deep deep into the marrow of my existence. This is bigger, much larger than me, larger even that the remembered perfection of a little girl for her mama. I can feel in moments such as these, a connection. I am all at once connected to the women before me. It is as if our apron strings stretch out across time, and I am feeling a breath of their contentment with their own farm-girl life. It’s like electricity traveling along a wire. I hear strains of music from their life-songs~ it is sweet and mournful and it mingles with mine. I haven’t asked her, but I imagine that my mom felt much the same thing. What I do know, is that I am blessed to love this. I am blessed to have this. I am blessed.