During this time of isolation we on the farms have the advantage. When the schools, churches and businesses closed my kids hunkered down in their homes with my grandchildren. The most difficult part – for one child in particular – was the closing of the town’s parks.
On our farm we spent a few hours outside every afternoon even before planting season. Having the ability to access nature was a saving grace. Every afternoon my husband and I would go out. Our dog, Annie, was always happy to come along. We drove around in our Kubota RTV looking for signs of spring – buds on trees, crocus in bloom and star-like paw prints of an opossum in the mud. All those things remind me of the advantage we have on family farms. Frogs and toads eagerly call from their puddles.
On one trip to our woodlot, while enjoying the sun-soaked slope, I spotted a nice deer antler. The tines were gleaming white against leaf litter from nearby hickory and oak trees. The longest tine measured a little more than 9 inches; there were four points in all on the beautifully arched rack. Upon closer examination I could see tiny tooth marks. A mouse or vole had begun gnawing off minerals for use in its own body.
In an effort to stay connected to my youngest grandkids I have been video-chatting with them. It has proven to be entertaining. I had always read two bedtime books to the little ones when they would stay overnight. That tradition is now expressed through the miracle of my smartphone.
Our neighbors’ church bought a retired elementary school to convert into a sanctuary; the school’s entire library came with it. When asked if I wanted any books I was ecstatic. Yes I would take some books! In one of the upstairs bedrooms we have a wall lined with built-in bookshelves; we filled them. Along with the usual fun books came volumes about history, science, nature and art. About 250 books were ferried up the stairs. My own collection of about 100 books is burgeoning into a respectable library. The shelves now hold so much possibility for adventure, entertainment and learning.
I have found two books of great importance during this time have been our Bible and our hymnal. At 10 a.m. Sunday mornings we read our pastor’s sermonette, sent to us through the mail. I read aloud the Bible verses selected. We pray. And then my husband, with his deep clear voice, leads us in song a cappella. He can read music but I cannot so we sing those I’m most familiar with. The rousing Welsh Cwm Rhondda, African spirituals and classic hymns of faith are all employed to make that “joyful noise.” We are lucky to have that hymnal.
Memories are created from experiences and the feelings associated with them. Whether it’s the tune of a favorite hymn, the drama of a classic book, belly laughs while trying new technology or observing God’s presence in the coming of the new season, they create new memories. Being close to nature on the farm is being close to God’s creation in its rawest form. God is here with us.