I had a conversation a couple weeks ago about romanticism. A friend posed the question, “Do you think growing up with your head in a book hindered your ability to appreciate real life?” And though at first I could easily come up with a laundry list of situations where my romantic expectations had resulted in a significant letdown (ahem, prom), after thinking about her question for a few days, I realized I really feel my enthusiasm and appreciation for the more romantic aspects of life is a precious gift and not at all a burden.
Sure, real life is not especially romantic. The day to day, the routines, the have-to’s and the obligations. Arguments and errands, cleaning and finances. Sometimes the realness of it all feels heavy and crushes the soul just a little bit. But I think amidst those every day things, there are moments, simple pleasures, magical happenings that, if we are paying attention, can not only live up to but even surpass the lofty expectations we might have. That’s why I feel that having grown up in an assortment of fictional worlds where fantastical things happen and happy endings are always a possibility, is such a gift.
Because when those fleeting moments appear, we have the ability to appreciate their true magic.
I get asked a lot if this rural farming life is as romantic as it seems. And of course the real answer is no. It is, especially this time of year, composed of long, hot days and a never-ending series of harvests. Working seven days a week, constantly battling the forces of nature and coming home at midnight just to head back out first thing the next morning. This year, being unseasonably hot has brought with it a whole different set of issues and our farmers have worked their tails off trying to keep up. It’s been weeks since Taylor and I have more than a couple waking hours together and the world around me has started to turn brown and dead, depressing me just a little. And yet, among the sweat and exhaustion, the days and nights apart and worries over berry prices, there is a certain magic to it all.
I went out with Taylor last night as he made his evening rounds, checking on the berry pickers and making sure everything was running right. I watched the huge, impressive machines load up with men and crates and prepare for a night of work. I meekly followed Taylor behind the fleet as they took off down their rows and hesitated when he started to climb up the ladder of one of the machines. He turned and motioned for me to join him, so up I went and felt like a queen riding the pickers through the field, a cool breeze hitting my face as the sunset glowed pink and the sweet smell of blackberries perfumed the air. High up above the rows I could see it all, and as the thousands of berries fell in purple waterfalls onto the conveyor belt behind me and traveled on into their crates, I felt a wave of awe.
While this life may not actually be romantic according to most people’s standards, it sure is to me. After months of preparation, weeding, watering, spraying, fretting and haggling over prices, when all is said and done, good year or bad, there is something to show for it. Something small, beautiful and delicious that you can hold in your hand. Something that can only exist because of the watchfulness and love and care of a few special folks, who rarely have the time to appreciate the incredible work they do.
My heart swelled with pride as I watched my husband work last night. It takes a lot of courage to make a career change of any kind, much less diving into a field so very different from what you were doing before. He’s learned so much and devoted so much time and energy trying to wrap his mind around what he’s seen of farming so far and I just couldn’t possibly admire him any more. I love nothing more than the times when I get to tag a long and watch him in action, so don’t expect the bragging to stop any time soon.
As we drove away from the field, watching the pickers work their way back and forth across the rows, Taylor said, “Isn’t it cool that these guys will be out here all night, just working away while everybody sleeps?” And I couldn’t help but agree. So much of farming is unnoticed, often unappreciated, and people take for granted those little berries they buy in the store. When in reality, an entire year’s time, money, labor and a final all night effort go into making those little beauties available so easily.
Romantic? Well, probably not. But magical? I’m sure of it.