33: The Dream We Didn’t Know We Had

33: The Dream We Didn’t Know We Had

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

The Dream We Didn’t Know We Had

When I go out into the countryside and see the sun and the green and everything flowering, I say to myself

“Yes indeed, all that belongs to me!”

~Henri Rousseau

If someone had told me five years ago that I would be living happily ever after on a small farm in western Oklahoma, I would have adamantly denied the possibility. Back then, I was a confirmed city girl. I enjoyed the amenities of city life. Then my husband and I decided to move from our longtime home in the city. We looked at houses in several surrounding communities, but nothing suited our needs or our budget.

One day, while we were checking my mother’s farm for her, I looked around, liked what I saw and asked my husband, “Why don’t we build a house here on the farm?”

To my surprise, he said, “Yes!”

And so began a new and very different chapter in our life story.

From its earliest days, the farm has always been called the Home Place. My great-grandparents, grandparents, mother and uncle all called it home. I spent many happy childhood summers there doing farm chores that were more fun than work for a city girl. No matter my age or the stage of my life, I often returned to the Home Place for peace, quiet and sanity. When my sons were growing up, I would treat them to a day at the farm so they could experience a bit of country life. It was a nice place to visit, but I had no intention of living there.

When we started our new life on the farm, it was far from a magical retreat. It was rugged and unkempt. Cattle had roamed it for over forty years with evidence they had toured the outbuildings.

My husband and I set out to tame the land. We took down dead trees, bulldozed dilapidated outbuildings and planted vegetable and flower gardens and an orchard. We learned new skills as we worked and provided the locals with humorous moments as they answered our naïve questions. We built a home to welcome family and friends, to share the beauty and bounty of the land.

We soon realized the land had played a marvelous joke on us: it had changed and transformed us in our efforts to tame it. We lost weight and gained muscles.

We’ve learned to recognize and honor nature’s cycles and timing instead of clocks, calendars, schedules and to-do lists. With only two clocks in the house, we enjoy the flow of days into nights. Our time-less life allows us to appreciate sunrises and sunsets — each a unique, spectacular event that canvas, camera and words only partially capture.

Living a simple life in the country has led us back to common sense and personal empowerment. We’ve learned to be creative and resourceful in solving problems. I often consider how my grandparents would handle a situation with fewer resources and conveniences than I have. The nearest large town is thirty minutes away, so we have to think and plan ahead instead of hopping in the car and “running” around the corner for something we forgot. We keep a pantry of staples, preserve much of our garden’s abundance and share with family and friends.

In the quietness of the land, we hear and appreciate nature’s music — birds, crickets, cicadas, frogs, coyotes, cattle and the ever-present Oklahoma wind. We also listen to the silence. In this silence, we allow the land to guide us to do what needs to be done — where to plant a flower or tree and how to share the blessings of the land with others.

Nature entertains us with the antics of rabbits and raccoons, and a parade of possums, armadillos and an occasional snake. Coyotes saunter and deer leap across the fields. Migrating pelicans and geese serenade us along their seasonal journeys. Hawks soar in the big sky. Our TV is seldom on as we enjoy nature’s big screen, with surround sound, instead.

Walking through the grasses, gazing at the century-old trees and wondering about all the changes and history they have witnessed are relaxing pastimes. My bare feet feel the pulse of the earth and connect me to God and the eternal. I walk down the same country road, noticing the same red anthills in the same places as in my childhood. Some things do not change.

While this picture is idyllic, I have to be truthful: caring for the land is a full-time job — but it’s a joyful job. My ancestors left me a rich heritage — not the kind of wealth you can spend, invest or save, but a wealth of spirit, perseverance and love of the land. They taught me to “take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.” That’s our intention.

As we open our doors to family and friends, we want them to feel that they are at home in the piece of quiet that is the Home Place. Friends who questioned our sanity after our many years as city dwellers feel the magic of the peace and quiet and are reluctant to leave.

Life has brought me full circle to happy, busy retirement days on the land where I spent many happy summer days as a child. We’re living the dream we didn’t know we had.

~Linda E. Allen

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