Thursday, July 17, 2003

Yesterday as I was driving back to my office from one of my company's manufacturing facilities, I decided to take the back roads. Michigan in the summer is beautiful, and I remind myself more than once a day to take in as much as possible, and hide it somewhere deep within myself, because I'll need those thoughts on some dreary and bone-chilling February day.

I'm pregnant, so I eat. And eat. And then I graze some. And then eat some more. So I stopped at a roadside restaraunt, Jimmy's Grill. The outside of the building reminds me of my grandparents porch on the farm in Oklahoma. White, wide, wood siding. The floor carpeted with green plastic turf-like material. Inside the nicest waitress seated me, and I ordered a chicken fried steak sandwich, with onion rings and lemonade.

Despite being one of the more emotionally-secure people I know, I felt the need to be doing something so as not to look like a loser who eats alone. I went over my notes from work, but as I got bored with that I began to look around the room. There was a table of men to my left, all with work clothes and baseball caps on. Which normally would indicate that they were construction workers, but just looking at these 6 or 7 guys you knew they were farmers. They were all fairly young, mid-thirties to early forties, clean shaven, and pretty quiet for a group of guys that size. They reminded me of my uncles and cousins in Oklahoma, and suddlenly I wanted more than anything to go with them. I wanted to drive the combine, talk into the CB radio, drink ice water directly out of thermos-like coolers. I wanted to touch the wide green leaves of corn, to make an impression in the dirt with my boot. I did not want to go back to my artificially-lit cubicle and breath filtered air. I wanted to go bed tired that night: content, hard-work-accomplished tired.

Of course I know farm work is some of the hardest work out there, but I expect someday you'll find me living on a farm, raising a few cows and a small vegatable garden, just enough to give me some satisfaction but not too much frustration. I'll have my laptop inside the house, in a quiet, shadowy office off the back room. My grandkids will come and visit, and will play in the hay bales and ride an old horse around the yard. I'll watch the sunset whenever I can, and email my editors my stories once a week. And hug my husband every day.

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