Over the Christmas holidays, I received the usual amount of Christmas letters and cards from my family and friends. I’m sure you’re familiar with them – the generic newsy letter updating the reader about the lives of their friends, their children, and grandchildren. I thoroughly enjoy these cards and letters – especially the ones from my ‘city slicker’ friends. These folks ask me about my rural idyllic life and comment that they envy my “life in the country”. In my earlier married years, these letters used to comment on how “romantic” my life with my drop-dead farmer gorgeous husband must be. I remember those days. Let’s reflect back to those romantic days – back to, say, late May, 1992. Picture me as the proud mother of Joseph, age 3-1/2 and Lauren,18 months. Peter is doing a custom corn planting job at our neighbour’s pig farm, in a rush, trying to get the planting done. He has asked that I bring him a lunch to the field in order that he can see the children. Remember that he’s been planting corn for an entire month – playing ‘beat the clock’ or ‘beat the rain’. Both games are essentially the same to farmers. During this time, Peter has seen the children for about an hour or two per week. The kids look at him like a stranger and I often wondered whether they would ask him for identification to prove that he was their father.
So as the dedicated mother and wife that I was trying to be, I eagerly prepared a picnic lunch, insisting that if the kids and I came to the field, Peter would have to agree to take some time from the tractor to have a picnic lunch with us. He agreed. I felt like I had just walked away from negotiating with Fidel Castro, only without the cigar. Lunch packed, blanket in tow, two kids in car seats, I proceeded down the road to the setting of the corn field of the pig farm to seek a location for the picnic lunch. My thoughts wandered hopeful that Peter would be thrilled to see us. I even pictured the meeting – Peter jumping down out of the tractor cab, rushing over to embrace us with delight. Could this possibly lead Peter to romantic thoughts? I had high hopes. As I drove down the road, my romantic enthusiasm began to dwindle as I realized the state of my physical appearance and recognized how “unromantic” I was. We were in the process of building a new chicken layer barn at the time and with Peter in the field, I was the sleep-deprived “woman in charge”. And since I was in charge, I hadn’t bothered to take the time to shave my legs for at a least a month, hadn’t brushed my hair for a day or two and upon reflection, couldn’t actually remember the last time that I had showered. I was definitely a hot mama, right? Not. My attire left something to be desired as well. My Winnie-the-Pooh T-shirt had a mustard stain on the front, strained peas on the sleeves (thanks to Lauren) and a smelly remnant from the excited chicken that I had interrupted earlier while she was laying an egg. Regardless, I proceeded to the field, eager to see my Perfect Peter and selected the lunch location near the shade of the bush – and the swarms of flies that had been attracted to the nearby dead pig pile that had been out of my sight during the location decision. Requesting a change of venue was out of the question – this had not been a part of the terms of my original agreement that granted me Peter’s presence for 20 minutes out of the tractor cab. We finished the lunch, basically trying to keep Joseph and Lauren from getting eaten by mosquitoes as Peter checked his watch every minute or two. At the end of the twenty minute period, I gathered the remaining lunch items, chased the kids to the car, and shook hands with my husband as he was somewhat hesitant to have any other physical contact. Oh the romance of the country life. This should also help explain why we only have two children. Just kidding! As Eddie Arnold and Zsa Zsa Gabor used to say about their farm on the now-vintage sitcom Green Acres, “Snyderdale Farms is the place to be, farm living is the life for me!”