I was country…when country wasn’t cool…
If I had to choose one song that epitomizes me this would have to be it. Barbara Mandrel’s, “I was country”. (That or “Redneck Woman,” but that’s another post.) I wasn’t really one of the cool kids during high school, although since there were a total of 100 kids in K-12, I don’t know that we really had such a distinction. I had then, like I have now, a very eclectic group of friends, as eclectic as you can get in a small Eastern Washington town in the 1970s (late ’70s), when half the town was family.
“I was country when country wasn’t cool, from my hat down to my boots. I still act and look the same, what you see ain’t nothing new. I was country when country wasn’t cool.”
For me, those lines in the song are so true. I guess if anything has changed it would be that I am just more settled into it. But now it is once again cool to be “country.”
I sat in a Chamber of Commerce meeting this week where the speaker talked about “agri-tourism,” which to me is such an exciting discussion. I love that the pendulum is swinging back to where we all want to be more connected to our food than we have been. I credit people like MaryJane Butters, Willie Nelson and Michael Pollan for changing the conversation.
Even for those that have never left the rural life, we disconnected from the “land to the table” conversations, distracted by life and the convenience of grabbing ready-made meals and canned this-and-thats off the grocers’ shelves. I am as guilty as the next person. But the country girl in me always cried out to return to the roots that my heart knew. The standard that was so brilliantly set by the women in my life who got up early to make breakfast, and then clean up that mess just to head into the process of making harvest lunch for the entire crew. As young women we could get summer jobs helping out in harvest. Now with all the child labor laws it has become almost impossible for kids to get those memories and those much-valuable life lessons.
They call us country bumpkins for sticking to our roots, I’m just glad that we’re in a country where we’re all free to choose…
We are, you know, still free to choose. Any of us right here and now can choose to reconnect to the land. Even if we don’t have our three-acre mini farm, we can support those that do. Find a local CSA or rancher, join a cause like Farm Aid, or take a class. Grow something in a container. Support a local grower at the farmer’s market or join the farmgirl movement and sisterhood. Or if you are one of the lucky ones that have land, teach a class. Offer farm walks to the local grade school or FFA, 4-H or summer school programs; help kids get re-connected.
Someone once told me that money follows your heart. I had to stop and see what my spending habits were telling me about the condition of my heart. I took inventory of the priorities I had adopted, both knowingly and unknowingly. I then wrote down the top five things that mattered to me: family, friends, faith, community, and farming. Once I got that clear, I found that supporting “Corporate America” became less of a priority to me; my heart no longer wanted the malls and the designer bags. Instead, I longed for the cute handcrafted items a lady in the community made. I was willing to save to buy a side of grass-fed beef from a local rancher. I made friends with the local soap maker. I was willing to grow some vegetables and visit the local “u-pick,” and to trek down to the local farmer’s market in the rain…all things that speak to this country girl’s heart.
I was country when country wasn’t cool! And now that being country is cool again, I am glad that I stuck to my roots.