When we arrived at the farm, all of us were unsure of what this new normal would look like. Grampy, being a widower of over 20 years, certainly had his own methods and routines established, and I was certain that the arrival of two young adults and two very young boys would disrupt most, if not all, of life as he knew it. The same went for Cindy, who had been living on the farm for some time.
But I had underestimated a farmer’s ability to adapt. You see, farmers are the kings of adaptation. They carefully watch every stalk of corn as it grows and learn to act just like it. The corn stalk and the farmer brace against strong winds by having deep roots, attached to the land with a firm affection. They weather the rains together, and raise their sun-wrinkled hands in a plea for more in the dry months. And always, always, the farmer and the corn stalk look straight up to the sky for their guiding light. So Grampy adjusted and adapted to life on the farm with his rag-tag Brady Bunch, gently bending to the whims of my boys and showing them the beauty of Texas farmland, as well as what it takes to be its caretaker.
I had also underestimated what fertile, Texas dirt can grow. Have you ever seen boys bloom? Being on the farm was like watching a time lapse film of a flower opening. Although time seemed to tick by more slowly due to the leisurely pace of living we adopted in Rogers, Texas, somehow the boys developed faster. The country air filled their lungs and filled their minds with imaginative games. Sticks turned into swords and musical instruments, pecans were an impromptu snack or a grenade to throw in battle, and the old, old oak trees provided enough supervision for me to stay inside for a while and allow Carter to experience the freedoms afforded to country boys. The soothing green of the grass and the dappled shade seemed to mollify whatever internal chaos was causing Harrison’s colic fits. His crying became less frequent, and he settled into our routine of life on the farm.
Does it sound magical? It should. It was. Where else can you learn how to plant black eyed peas and then watch as they sprout? What better way to show how quickly crops grow than to stand next to them daily and witness the very moment when they outpace you? How can you understand symbiosis if you’ve not felt the tickle of a ladybug crawl from your arm to the raised garden, and then tasted the crisp, fresh lettuce from the garden that was protected by the ladybug? It was an education for all of us, and also an example, because one cannot help but to grow as a person when surrounded by so many other things that are growing tall and strong and true.
As they say, all good things must come to an end. Our time under the ancient branches of the oaks was over in a few short months, but not before a few new ideas had been sown. I blame Grampy, of course, for this ruin of our former ideas of the perfect homestead. We used to dream of a big house in the city, close to a grocery store and near the good schools. But after just a few months on the farm the dream shifted. Now we can’t imagine putting down roots anywhere without enough space to unfurl our branches, and I hope it can be green, and I wish for nearby water for fishing, and ladybugs, and sticks, and blue skies, and an old man to teach us the old ways, and young boys to show us the pleasure of new things. I can only hope that some of the things planted in us in that time will find a place to grow here in Abilene, strong and straight up to the sky, and always, always able to adapt.
So we're looking for a little bit of land...