I keep finding myself showered with gifts.
Not the kind that come in a box, or wrapped up in bows.
But the other kind. You know, the kind that matters the most.
Gift Number One: The baptisms.
Eleven people were baptized on our farm, in our mountain stream, under the Old Sycamore Tree. It had been 50 years since the local church used that spot for baptisms. The event was touching, sacred, precious, moving. A real gift. (Do you see my horses in the background, watching?)
Gift Number Two: The tobacco pole we found in the old barn
We built the cross using an old tobacco pole we found in the tobacco barn we renovated. We built it and then hauled it over to the spot in My Truck Formerly Known as “Elvis” Now Known as “Ned B.” (Long story on the name change, I’ll tell it some other time.)
I love this photo. A very sweet and talented woman who attended the baptism took it.
My husband is putting up the cross here. The Old Sycamore Tree, with white bark, is in the background.
Gift Number Three: The Old Sycamore Tree
The Old Sycamore Tree is huge and ancient. As the preacher said at the baptism service that day: no matter the weather, no matter how dark it is, The Old Sycamore Tree is what you can always see in this valley we call home.
I feel like I am walking on hollowed ground when I walk in this area of our farm. You know the way you feel in a beautiful cathedral? or in a cemetery? That’s the way it feels to me down at the Old Sycamore Tree. You want to take off your shoes and stay awhile. Hush up any one with you who wants to chatter. Prayerful. Meditative. Holy.
Gift Number Four: Help from Neighbors and Friends
Before these baptisms could take place, the land needed to be cleaned up. We needed space for the participants, the musicians, the audience, and all the cars.
That’s the way it looked when help arrived in the form of neighbors and friends to clean up the site for the baptisms. They are weed-eating down by the creek.
Gift Number Five: Refreshing Water
I looked out my window a few days after the baptisms and saw this.
Gift Number Six: Fruit
When we all did that month of walking, I made a huge attempt to eat more fruit and fewer cookies. It was during that month that I realized that fruit is a gift. I mean, it’s so sweet and delicious and healthful. Blueberries with cantaloupe, an inspired pairing. Bananas and dates and walnuts, so yummy. Watermelon, oh the watermelon! Who doesn’t love refreshing watermelon? What about grapes, grapes, grapes? Red, white, black, fruit of the vine in their very own little individual tasty packages. I now appreciate fruit. I still LOVE cookies, but I appreciate fruit like I never have before.
The farm is gifting us fruit we didn’t plant.
I don’t like them, but my daughter sure does. You don’t have to look far to find blackberries on our farm. They are everywhere, in varying stages of ripeness. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, you could eat them all day and we’d still have tons.
Apple Trees and Pear Trees too. I didn’t plant them, but I benefit from them. As do my horses.
Such healthy gifts.
Gift Number Six: Country Sights for Sore City Eyes
When I drove home from running errands the other day, I saw a neighbor out with his mules in our field. He plowed in between the rows of crops, weeding the area. Another neighbor uses our field to grow tobacco and this man, the man with the mules, wanted to help. Because that’s the place where I live. A helping place. See Gift Number Four above.
Not long after this, the mule man was injured when a horse reared up on him. His leg was broken, but he is healing well. (I really need to make him a casserole this week and take it to him. He lives alone and could probably use a home cooked meal.)
Gift Number Seven: Wind
The summer breezes on my face, in my hair, in my trees….such a treat. You can be working outside, “’bout kilt” from the heat and then whoosh, a nice breeze blows on you, invigorates you. And you can go on.
Here, it was really whipping through this oak tree.
Gift Number Eight: Shade
And under the oak tree, shade. I am thankful for the shade this summer. It’s always 10 degrees cooler. Sometimes you’ve just got to take your sawhorses or other work with you and head to the shade.
Gift Number Nine: Eggs
My sweet chickens aren’t laying much these lazy hot days of Summer, but when they do, we enjoy and savor them. Perfect summer meals.
Gift Number Ten: Peace
Speaking of chickens, I had that feeling that it was about to happen, the death of our chicken named Grandpa (named after Grandpa on The Munsters, whom my daughter thought she looked like when Grandpa was just a chick.) That’s her on the left. And here’s Grandpa.
Anyway. I waited and knew, but it didn’t happen. She hung on and hung on. Which, normally, I’d be thankful for. But in this case, I started to feel like she had begun to suffer. I began to pray for her peaceful passing. I finally called the vet and was to bring her in the next morning to be put to sleep. Lord, how I dreaded that 30 minute drive to the vet’s. I knew I’d feel like the grim reaper on that drive. I didn’t really know how to do it, to get through it. Be strong, I told myself.
And then. She died during the night. Grandpa, the Chicken, passed peacefully in the hen house, surrounded by her friends. She was a White Faced Black Spanish, a beautiful rare breed.
My husband and I dug her grave early the next morning. I wrapped her body in a large white linen cloth and buried her under the apple tree with her friend, TyGee. My husband said to me under that apple tree, “You’re getting better at this.”
The first death of an animal was of my cat, Buddy, many years ago. I finally found his body (he was outside when he had died and I searched and searched. It might sound strange and weird, and I can’t explain it to you, but I was lead to him. He was in a place I would never have seen him or been able to locate him. But I asked for help in finding him and I received it.)
But the part of the story I meant to tell, is that when I did find him, I couldn’t touch my precious Buddy. My husband was out of town, so I left him out in the woods and drove to a friend’s house. Our always-there-when-you-need-him-friend, David, came and carried Buddy from the woods into the garage. I couldn’t look at Buddy; I couldn’t touch his soft black and white fur. Stomach punch. Intense sadness. I felt terrible and guilty that I couldn’t even touch him; I loved him so much, but I didn’t have it in me. The next day my husband came back from his business trip and he and his Dad took Buddy to be cremated. This was twenty years ago, maybe?
And now, just look at me, I lovingly scoop up the dead body of my pet chicken. I admire the way she tucked her head under her wing and died in that position. I see her large “crop”, the part of her body that didn’t work well enough, the part that caused her death. I stroke her black feathers. I tell her how much I love her. I wrap her in linen. I help dig the hole. I place her in it. I cover her with dirt. I bury her. I fetch large rocks to mark her grave. She had a good life here on the farm; I think that’s what helps me through the loss. So yes, familiarity (and farmlife) has made me better at this. I don’t know how I feel about that.
Gift Number Eleven: Harvest
I’ve heard about zucchini forever. You know, the way it grows quickly and how you have to keep your car doors locked in the summer or someone will slip a bag of it in your front seat.
But, Y’all, I had no idea until a few days ago. I finally looked under the giant leaves of the zucchini plant I had grown from seed. Yay! A few little dark green baby zucchini. I was tempted to cut them and saute them for dinner that night; I could taste their tender, sweet yumminess. But, alas, I waited. A few days later I went back and they were HUGE! Almost too big!
I sliced one last night and roasted it in the oven with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. It was fabulous. All I can say is….zucchini is some kind of a wonder vegetable, a super veggie. Yeah, that’s it. A super hero in the vegetable world. Plant a seed, ignore it, and then bam. Huge, gigantic food. I only have two plants, but from what I can tell, you better lock your car door because I’m headed for a monster crop.
Gift Number Twelve: Patience
Our kitchen project is one big fat pain in the drain. I can’t even begin to tell you how painful the pain is. It’s nearly impossible to live in these conditions. The noise! The dust! The people every where! The mess! If you’ve lived through it, you know exactly what I mean. Problems, mistakes, questions: every single day.
But there are some gifts too. Like….
We were just about to put up bead-board in the “old” kitchen when Paul, a guy who is working with us, said, “Hey, I want to see what’s under this sheet rock.”
So he took a claw end of a hammer and he pulled down some old sheetrock.
He found the original (1892) beautiful old boards underneath.
So we started tearing down the sheetrock. And my kitchen looks like this.
See what I mean? A MESS! You see why I need an aspirin right now?
But here’s the reward, the gift. Beautiful boards under all that sheetrock.
Can you believe that? Incredible.
There was even a metal can nailed up to cover some type of large hole. We think it must have been the stove pipe because of its size.
I moved the ceiling light fixture and wound up with a new hole.
So I bought this can of turnip greens to make my own metal covering for the hole I created.
Ta Da! I thought it was perfect, “Serving Up Memories Since 1929″ written on the can.
In the midst of all the messy mess, I noticed my sign was still hanging:
No doubt about it. Home Sweet Home indeed.
And the one of the best gifts in this photo is in the upper lefthand window.
This is far too long for a blog post, but I told you: I’ve been showered with gifts lately. I could go on and on. I mean, what about that moon behind the house in that photo. Have you been admiring the moon lately too?
Yes, there are many more gifts I want to tell you about, but I’d rather hear some of yours.
What gifts have you received lately that didn’t come wrapped in ribbons and bows?
Until next time, Friends, Savor the Flavor of Life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl in the Country, Rebekah