In the Dirt

I walked into the kitchen at the farm holding a bundle of radishes with sweat dripping from my white smeared sunscreen face, "I love this Mom.  Like really really love it." 

Gardening.  It's in my blood to garden.  To spend time sitting in the dirt with myself as company.  To have the permament smidge of black dirt under my fingernails.  To feel the breeze blowing on my skin while the sun warms my bones.  To intrinsically know what makes each plant tick; what they need and when they need it.  I'm not quite there yet.  But one day I might be. 

I am where I love spending my hours out in the garden.  Even in the one hundred percent humidity with ninety-nine for the heat index.  Sweat pooled on  my smeared white sunscreened face and bugs stuck where they landed on my nose and my hair felt the frizz and my forehead wrinkles were apparent. 

But I was happy.     

Happy as a lark sitting in the dirt freeing the lettuce and carrots from the radishes and the weeds.  With every tug it's as if a fraction of that thing, soul-inner self-whatever you refer to it as, is freed.  And I can't help but wonder if my grandma felt that same way.  Felt like it was a time when all was right with the world.  No matter the stresses she was going through of being a newlywed trying to come out of the Depression era with something, raising babies while working as a teacher and farming with Grandpa, watching her teenage daughters try to find themselves, and then letting go of her daughters as they spread their wings to do their own living, wondering if she'd done it all the right way, making the transition to each stage in her own life.     

This gardening thing is work.  Hot and dirty.  But it's work I find myself loving.  There are many times now that I've done some growing up I wish my grandma was here.  Here to sit with me while I tug at the radishes.  Here to tell me why the peas are turning yellow.  Here to share with me the happiness that comes from standing at the end of the row knowing that you just freed those plants to do their thing.  Here to see the love for the dirt she had is in my blood after all.       

When I was a kid, I remember waking up in the summer mornings and knowing to trot out to the garden because that's where I would find my mom.  Spending her quiet time before the rush of the rest of us brewing and needing and wanting started among the dirt and plants.  My young self thought she was crazy; thought sleep was the best way to spend a morning.  But now I get it.  Totally get it.   

Traditions are beyond important to me; I believe they are the way in which we find and keep our identity.  I enjoy when Momma Debi says things like, "Are those pea plants wet?  You should never pick weeds or produce when it's wet because it causes mold." 

After I ran into the house with radishes and nerdily professed my love of gardening, I walked back out to find Dad-o with a hoe in his hand, weeding the corn while he kept an eye on the grain being loaded into the semi.  "Dad, it's so fun to have a garden.  It seems like forever since it hasn't been too wet." 

He stood up straight, "It's so fun to grow crops again Amy.  It's been too long since we've been able to grow.  It's feels good to work and see it matter again." 

There you have it.  Traditions.  I'm learning and soaking it all in with the hope that one day I will pass the torch. 

I have a ways to go before I'm ready to completely fly solo in the growing realm.  The very morning these radishes were picked, I sprayed an entire jug of Round-up I stole from the farm in the shop on my landscaping rocks, driveway, and sidewalks.  Then I called Momma Debi and said, "Was I supposed to add water to that Round-up?  I feel like maybe I should have."  Her answer was, "Well it's one pint per five gallons of water for an acre of land." 

Which means I made a mistake.  One which could cause some seriously dead grass instead of just dead weeds.  Time will tell. 

But I know this.  We laughed about it being yet another one of those Amy things which seem to happen.  There's another torch I hope I will pass on.  Knowing the value in laughing at yourself and your follies instead of fretting or stewing or yelling or blaming or stomping your feet.  Take responsibility, admit you made a mistake, laugh, laugh again, and move on.  While taking notes all along the way.   


Stop for the Big Cow

Do you want to know how you can tell if you have real friends?  Besides tapping them to make sure they are there.  You ask them this, "Do you think we could stop by New Salem to catch some of Sister Pister's last high school rodeo?" 

And you make sure you ask it after spending over fifteen hours in a car together in a two day span.

Because when they say yes to such an inquiry, you know they are real friends.  Turning a little something something that's important to you into something that it is also worth their time. 

So we stopped.  Stopped in the town of the big cow to catch Sister Pister's pole bending run; her last event of the day.  What I didn't know is we also stopped so Danae could experience her first rodeo in awhile.  She was entertaining to say the least.  I dare say she might have actually enjoyed herself despite her fear of large animals.  Well, really her fear of all animals.  But that's a story for another day.     

Momma Debi has spent many a hour at rodeo grounds across the state in the last four years.  High school rodeo season is in the spring and the fall which made for a rare occasion when Dad-o could attend.  Those are the crazy busy times for farming.  The go times.  Momma Debi is the kind of mom though that will drive and ride across the state so her daughter can do what she loves.  Let me explain further...one time she bought me a vacuum for my sixteenth birthday.  She's all about encouraging her kids' passions.   

I've attended a few rodeos along the way; it's just not always easy for me to sit and wait and sit and wait.  I'd rather be vacuuming or something.  But I sure do love to watch my sister do her thing.  If only the rodeo was filled with contestants I knew.  Then I'd be set. 

Because when it's people I know, I tend to be able to pay attention.  Like I watched Sister Pister's boyfriend named Hayes and his very own little sister compete in team roping.  It was just one more nudge of how much of a good human Hayes is; he can be on a team with his little sister.  I think back to when Brother and I were in high school and I am not entirely sure we could have tolerated each other in a competition setting.  Fixing fence was enough of an adventure in itself I tell you.   

Maybe my siblings and I follow our own beats.  Mmmhm, that's probably it.  Take for instance I forced Sister Pister to stand in the middle of the road at one of her high school rodeos and point to the big cow.   

Then I had to remind Hayes of how I roll.  Which is what I refer to as my camera face look.  He's starting to adjust.  Soon I will have donkey kicking.   

You ride with my sister to rodeos?  Be ready to smile while you get your horse ready then.  She was a sport about it.   

Sister Pister, however, has become so accustomed she simply ignores me.  I tell myself it's only because of the camera. 

Yes, she pretends I don't exist until I yell, "Look at me!"  

Or until I say, "Do that again.  Adjust your belt again.  I missed it."  She really loves that kind of business when she is trying to get her horse ready.

Right back to ignoring she goes.  Ignoring with some participation of the let's make fun of Amy game which was occuring from the peanut gallery of friends.   

I decided to leave those three to their laughter and popped over to the next trailer and said, "You're Hayes's sister and I'm Em's sister and my name is Amy and now stand there and smile with your brother.  Come on.  It will be cute." 

Belt issues.  You can not have belt issues while pole bending.  I just made that up but it sounds legitimate right? 

After all adjustments on Sister Pister's part and nerdy jokes on my part, she was off for the races.  Now that's exactly the kind of nerdy statement which would cause an eye roll from my sister.  But she has in the very least accepted how I am.  Next up is appreciation.  We're working on that one.  

The dirt chunks flew for the next twenty three seconds.   

Her hat flew too. 

Have I ever told you that Sister Pister is a better rider than me?  I'm sure I have somewhere along the way in my statements of the obvious.   

Here are a few of my favorite things.  Lip gloss, green grass, pictures with no hooves on the ground while a horse is running, sixteen bracelets at one time, stickie notes, grapes, coffee, the smell of laundry detergent, glitter clothespins, and chopping vegetables.    

Here are a few of my not favorite things.  Snakes, worms, cutting off a horse's hooves in a whoa picture, cleaning the shower drain, cats, hairy armpits, not talking, the smell of rotten potatoes, the look of rotten potatoes, voicemails, and snow banks.       

Back to favorites now.  Having real friends who will stop with you to take in your little sister's last high school rodeo pole bending run.  Having a little sister who is a gem.  Having a Momma Debi.  Having a sunny day with a blue sky.  Having a sister's boyfriend who is a good human.  Having my camera face.  Having music to listen to and friends to visit with to make it through the rest of the road trip home.   


It's About Time I Get to This

Finally.  The wedding. 

It was out of a show I tell you.   

Gorgeous weather in a pristine location with pretty people abound and lovely decorations to finish the scene. 

Fun factor.  That was there too.  For sure there. 

Thunderstorm.  Oh yeah that happened too. 

The character Rope making an appearance for the brother of the bride's speech.  There are no words.  You had to be there. 

I'm pretty sure all of the speeches were film worthy.  Many moments of "Did that really just happen?"  They did.  They happened.   

April and Miles celebrated.  That happened the most. 

Besides, anytime you have a pregnant lady wearing tennies at your wedding dance...you are the winner of the best wedding ever.  As April says, "Ginger is always ready for a run!"