I’m sitting in the back room of a quaint little coffee shop, two hundred miles away from where I normally am at the end of July. It’s an Italian roast from one of my favorite roasters, which is actually right up the street. Black. Also on the agenda is a brewery that has crept up on the outskirts of town since my last visit – a dozen years ago. I’ve taken two vacations of sorts since then, and never in the middle of the summer. That I’m able to take one now speaks of at least two things; stability and need.
I’m constantly amazed when folk drop by to visit the farm. I hear comments like “amazing,” “peaceful,” and the “you’re so lucky” refrain. Our visitors usually spend a few hours walking around, many help out with the work of the day (digging potatoes, butchering chickens, planting squash, etc.) and then leave to rejoin their regular lives. I suspect that many are refreshed to have actually done something of significance rather than the cubicle data pushing that constitutes so much of the daily work in the D.C. metro region. I also realize that many are envious of my zero commute, the environment that my children are being raised in, and the three meals I eat each day made from scratch by my faithful wife.
What is not seen is the wear that years of constant toiling take on the body and the psyche, the toll of summer days worked in the sun that drag on for 10 to 14 hours. My father never took a vacation. Ever. Sunup to sundown, and often beyond, six days a week. Sunday was for church, but was never without the chores that had to be done, milking the cow, feeding the chickens, haying and watering the cattle.
I pretty much fell in to that routine when I returned to the farm. Over the last several years I’ve had people encourage me to get away, take so time off. Looking back, they must have seen something I didn’t (when the Amish tell you to take a vacation, one should listen!). Finally, my customers at the market began telling me to take some time off. Yikes! I was wearing down and needed to take a few days rest.
The fact that I could travel this far away and not worry about the farm is due to a fantastic farm manager and a great daughter. Ed simply made me promise to be back in time for the next market day. And Hannah nearly packed my bags. Yep, that need thing showing through again. The CSA is all taken care of, the vegetables will continue to be cared for, harvested, watered, and planted in my absence. The animals will be under the expert observation and care of my daughter, who seems to have inherited my father’s animal husbandry instincts.
So I sip my coffee and reflect on my fortunes. I am a blessed man. I live a dream that many have and few find. I’m surrounded by family who love me, friends and customers who care, and farm help that is trustworthy and competent. A mid-summer’s night rest may never have been so needed and appreciated as now.