Rurally different

Every so often Sean will talk about one day owning a farm/ranch. I have no idea what the difference between the two are.

But he really wants a horse.

Or two.

And some cows.

And chickens.

And a vegetable garden.

I'm not all that crazy about living on a farm/ranch. I've kinda, sorta been there, done that.

I grew up in a very small town in Massachusetts.  My parents were a bit like hippies (or so I've been told by many friends). They lived on maybe a 1/2 acre or so of land with a creek (which we called a river) that ran right next to it. We had a huge vegetable garden, heated our house with 3 wood stoves, our water was heated with a coal stove, and all winter long, Mom cooked on a wood cook stove.

We composted and did not have central heat or air.

We dammed up the river and swam in it all summer long.

Dad made maple syrup, and did woodworking. Mom made every meal from scratch and sewed a lot of our clothes. What they could not make or grow, they bartered for. And chances were, the person they bartered with, Dad went to school with.

Up the road from us was a farm that had cows, horses and a hog or two. They grew corn and hay.  And it was from the farm, my dad bartered for ears of corn.

My oldest sister worked one summer for them hauling that hay. And it was at the farm where I learned how to ride a horse.

As kids, my brother, sisters & I would explore the wooded areas around our house, walk the river looking for anything interesting, and build forts.

When I was a teenager, I hated living there.

I hated that we did not have cable TV and there was never anything to do.  (Ha! What did I know??)

And we had a 20 minute drive into town to buy groceries.

I hated that nearly everyone knew who you were and who you were related to.

And that my dad graduated from the same school I did, his math teacher was my math teacher and my principal was his science teacher.

Now, I live in suburbia. In less than a mile radius from our house, we can walk to the grocery store, Circle K, the bank, park, and several different restaurants.

There is a city bus that can take you just about anywhere, and a new light rail that will take you to the heart of downtown Phoenix.

My kids teachers do not know me other than as their mom.

And you could live on the same street for 5-1/2 years and never know the couple who live down on the corner.

We have the ability to purchase cable or satellite TV and have high speed internet.

It's great the conveniences we enjoy and take for granted most every day.

Then I think about my childhood and where I grew up. It's worlds away from where my kids are growing up.

Figuratively and geographically.

In a way it's sad to me that they have never experienced building a go-cart from and old baby buggy and skateboard, and days spent playing baseball with the neighborhood kids until dark.

They have never experienced the labors of tilling, planting, weeding and harvesting their own vegetables. Or the joy of pulling a fresh carrot out of rich, fertile soil, wiping it off on their tee-shirt, and chomping it to the leaves.

They have never known the struggles of gathering buckets of sap in freezing weather. Or the sweetness of warm maple syrup poured over a bowl of fresh snow and maple candy.

They have never had to chop, stack or haul fire wood. Or sit around the hearth roasting marshmallows and laughing with their dad.

They have never had to spend 30 minutes putting on layers of clothing and snow boots to shovel the driveway. Or the ultimate high of actually hitting their sibling in a snowball fight.

They have never enjoyed reading in a lawn chair while enjoying the silence of a warm summer day. Or sitting at the edge of a meadow watching a mama deer and her baby grazing.

As much as I hated living in a small rural town, it's unfortunate my kids have missed out on so many of the things I was fortunate enough to experience.

My brother still lives in that same small town we grew up in, and seven years ago, the girls and I went back for a visit.

It was fun seeing the town I grew up in through their eyes.

The first thing they said, okay the second, the first was "it's so green here!", was that they saw a dog in someone's yard and "there was no fence and the dog wasn't even on a leash!"

That was the big culture shock for them. Houses were "so far from the road" and very few of them had fenced yards.

As the girls get older, and are slowly leaving the nest, I sometimes wonder if one of them will do like I did and move thousands of miles away from the town they grew up in, to a place the complete opposite of here.


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