Monday, December 5, 2016
The Farm Girl
On a recent visit to my daughter, Stephanie Stegall, in Chattanooga, Tenn., I found myself unusually relaxed and having flashbacks to my childhood. What could be causing this unusual reaction?
The settings seemed very different, at least superficially. My childhood house was small, maybe 800 square feet. My daughter's house is 4,200 square feet if you don't count the basement area where she has set up a gym. We had a hand pump for water, and I was five before we got electricity. At my daughters home we had all of the modern conveniences.
Sitting on the back porch watching the cows graze, it hit me. My daughter, despite being extremely busy as a pediatrician, spent much of her time at home doing what my mother did as a farm wife. The similarities crowded in on me. It was obvious, coming here to visit was a "going home" experience.
Watching the cows brought back memories of childhood.
The cows I was watching were beef cattle, the one at home was our milk cow, but a cow never the less.
Stephanie has a chicken coup and a fenced in area her husband had built for her where she had a dozen chickens of three breeds, who lay different colored eggs that she collected regularly from their nests
As a child I collected eggs from a much larger coop that had several dozen chickens, mostly leghorns with a few Rhode Island reds.
When I saw my daughter watering the variety of plants and flowers around the house, she was using a fancy hose that sent out a variety of sprays. My mother used a pail with water from the pump for the same purpose.
And a garden? Ours was large with enough food to can for the winter; my daughter's was small with just enough variety to be used as the new vegetables came in. By now the similarities were washing over me.
Animals? At home we always had a cat, dog, canary, and a small bowl of fish. Here I see three dogs, two cats, and a large aquarium of multicolored fish.
Stephanie's house sits on 65 acres with a great view with deer, coyotes, and a multitude of birds We sat next to open country with wild animals as part of our scenery.
Why had it taken so long for me to make the connection? I guess most of us don't usually think of visiting a daughter as a going home experience; it is when she visits you that she should be having a going home experience and having flashbacks into her childhood.
I'm a strong believer that certain behaviors run in families and see certain talents that showed up in aunts, uncles, and cousins. Artistic and musical talent are common, storytelling is frequent, but the farm wife had been so common because that's what women did, that I had not considered it to have any kind of genetic base. Yet here was my daughter replicating her grandmother's behavior, a woman she had never met.
Stephanie had shown a need to do this as a child, but received inadequate training from me. We tried gardening and raised the smallest tomatoes and corn I had ever seen. Our fish tank was a death sentence for the fish we put in it. Farming even in our backyard was not my thing. Freed from my supervision she found she had the talent.
Recognizing the family connection, I passed up a chance to gather a couple more Venture Bound stories and just told myself--relax, you're home again.
Gathering eggs was part of my mother and my daughter's life styles