The week after we moved into the new house and the major crises of finding the boxes of clothes and dishes were over, I began to mourn. I mourned my old house. We had moved so quickly and without ceremony that I never really processed that I was leaving a house that I spent seven years renovating, much of it with my own hands. I left a house where my kids' spent almost their whole childhood. I left a house with growth marks on the wall. I had a surprising delayed reaction to moving, and I dealt with it by reading a lot.
One of the books that I read was a memoir, The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. Kimball was a freelance writer living in the East Village who liked cafes and nice clothes. On assignment, she went to Western Pennsylvania to interview a young organic farmer. And within a couple of months, they were engaged. She parts with her rent controlled city apartment (ugh!) and starts a new CSA farm from scratch with her fiancee in upstate New York (double ugh!).
The memoir describes their first year of putting together this farm. She learns how to slaughter pigs and chickens, pickle vegetables, collect maple syrup, buy horses at an Amish auction. She develops ripped muscles from carrying milk buckets and harnessing the horses. She forges connections with her community as the curious neighbors help them pick potatoes and teach them old farming tricks.
Dahling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue.
Over dinner last Sunday, I told my dad about the book and he rolled his eyes. He explained, "Laura, your great grandfather ran away from a farm. All of his brothers and sisters ran away from the farm. His older brother jumped on a freight car as it passed by when he was 15 years old, which took him out of Nebraska and to Iowa. Your grandfather and his brother chose to work in the stock yards of Chicago, rather than pull a plow in the fields."
Steve piped up. "Yeah, my great grandfather was a Mennonite in Pennsylvania. He ran away and kept running until he hit Cleveland."
Still, I liked the book. Kristin never gets preachy about organic farming. She clearly loves that life, but knows that it isn't for everyone. Her enchantment with farm life is endearing. Her book is about more than farming. It is the adventure of learning something new and doing it closely with family and friends. It's about sharing things that were made by love, even if those things aren't clean and shiny from a store.
While I'm definitely not cut out for 5am cow milkings, I do like my garden and I love my fresh veggies from the CSA. I do love fixing things by hand. When I finished the book, I looked around at this new house and saw a hundred projects that I wanted to work on. I found the best patch on the yard to plant tomatoes next spring. I wandered around town and found a place where I can take sculpture classes. I set up my computer under the window with views of trees and sky. I organized the rag tag group of writers in my Meet-Up group. I got some pointers from the book agent.
And I found that I had stopped mourning.
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