After getting my mother-in-love settled down for two weeks of pet sitting, my husband and I dropped Jamie at my parents and away we went. My husband is from Tennessee, I from western North Carolina. We both grew up hiking the hills and hollers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here in Atlanta, each new development, each grind of the chainsaw presses hard on us. But the road trip…my friends, the road trip restored our faith that –at least for now-the entire world isn’t being raped and paved over to make way for a new shopping center.
It goes without saying that I am IN LOVE with farms. Why else would I write about farmers. As the car headed for the Northern Country, the burden of living in the city slowly slipped away. Everywhere we looked farms flanked the interstate.
As an aside, if you’re a farmer in Tennessee, Virginia or Pennsylvania and you care to put me up for a week (heck even a weekend) I’m your huckleberry farm hand. I may be only five feet tall, but I can do something to help out (just ask Farmer Billy here in Atlanta). I especially want to visit during corn harvesting time. Planting time also interests me. Y’all know I’m serious. If you know a farmer in the area, share this blog, direct them to my website where they can contact me. My reason is simple, farmers are givers and sometimes my soul needs to be around folk that respect the land. Now don’t go off half-cocked and tell me about the evils of GMOs. I know that. You know that. We all know that. I’m talking about farmers that have busted the dirt for decades, held on to their acerage because it was their dad’s land, and their grand pappy’s land before that. Men clad in stained overalls that refuse to sell their land for the installation of another strip mall.
There is one particular farmer in Tennessee, whose name I do not know, that erected a sign on their property NOT FOR SALE. I really want to meet that farmer. I want to shake his (or her) hand, hug their neck, bunk in the barn until Jesus comes back.
Farmers give life. Farmers partner with land. Both work hard to feed a hungry. Being near them restores my soul. I don’t guess too many Farmers have a 401k plan. They’ll retire when they’re planted in the ground they love.
Whew, I didn’t expect to get off and chase a rabbit through the corn. Beg your pardon. I told ya’ll in the first post that I really needed some time away from the city.
My husband, who is not known for many words because I am always rattling off at the mouth, said “I didn’t know huge chunks of land like this still existed.”
We marveled, truly marveled at the beauty of cornfields, of sweet tater vines (they probably call them yams, but my people call them sweet taters). Cows enchanted us, and the barns…lawd have mercy, it was all I could do to keep from yelling “STOP THE CAR!” just so I could touch a piece of rough hewn lumber. I am IN LOVE with farm country.
As we traveled through the Shenandoah Valley, my husband asked, “Do you think all of this undeveloped land is National Park or Forest land?” my husband asked.
Shaking my head, I replied, “Don’t know.” I secretly wished that I were driving. I would have long since pulled over and parted the barbed-wire fencing.
It didn’t matter if the land was a National Park or if the dirt was working hard to feed us. What did matter was that during our two-day drive from Atlanta to Maine we felt the stress of city life and the dissatisfaction of eternal busy-work slowly slip away. Maine called and we hurried to answer her call.
Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2014 Mercer University Press will release Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She loves hearing from you. Feel free to share this blog post, leave comments, or contact her directly through her website.