When I became a true country girl
By Teresa Bakker
It is the best way for me to start the day: I put the kettle on, and in my cotton pajamas I step out onto the back porch to check the weather. Yes, sometimes even in the dead of winter. You see it is one of the many privileges of having no visible neighbors, and only the occasional coyote loping across the hay field or a young doe peeping out from the forest. So as I commune with nature I stretch, take a big gulp of air, and return indoors for my hot brew of choice, usually coffee.
Well, today my thoughts went to neighbors. We have been living on this dairy farm for 16 years now. My husband grew up literally "down the road," knowing no other life than "country life."
Me, a city girl marrying a cow boy, I had a lot to learn of country life. So I set out ambitiously to can and freeze all my garden produce, make my own cheese, bake my own bread, produce yogurt and butter from our own milk. As I said, I tried! Yes, it was equal parts success and failure. I discovered this is not a passion of mine yet, merely whim and fancy.
What I have embraced with enthusiasm is my self-appointed role as the "welcoming party" for new neighbors to the country block. I usually bake some goodies and head on over to the new neighbors. We exchange pleasantries and phone numbers just in case one or the other may need a helping hand (as that is what good country folk do).
Approximately four years ago, neighbours moved in on our township road 10. I introduced myself with cake in hand, and explained that my husband would be spreading some smelly manure twice a year and we hoped they would have no objections! We are now fast friends almost like family. Our kids have birthdays together. We share garden produce and meat, along with tractors and babysitting. We even walk together, pushing our babies in strollers along those bumpy country roads. Other neighbors have joined us along the way.
Each Christmas I try to give a couple of neighbors a roast or steak to show we appreciate them as neighbors. As a result, we have received and been blessed in kind. For example ,the neighbor three farms down sent us blueberries as our eldest child worked picking this past summer and the blueberry farmer was pleased with the work. Another neighbour knit a baby blanket for our daughter when she was born. Then there are our other neighbours on the 10th who we are privileged to know. Not only are we friends but she cuts and colors our hair perfectly.
So my sip of coffee has revived me out of this reminiscing to think, "what’s the point here?"
Well, I believe the world could use a bit more old-fashioned, down-home country mentality and "love your neighbor as yourself."
I challenge you to meet a new neighbor, or an old one. If you put this simple practice into action, revitalization for all occurs, and happiness abounds.
Sitting on my back porch in my rocking chair, I smile to myself as I think of the scones I will bake and deliver to the new neighbors who just moved in.