We were talking about barns at writing group yesterday. Two of our members mentioned that the falling-down barns that are strewn around Washington County remind them of things cast aside. There were inevitable comparisons between the aging barns and cast-off people and, with them, a bit of sadness. But, for me, the talk of barns revived a feeling of optimism about rural life I’d enjoyed since leaving the farmer’s market earlier in the day.
We go because my kids love the farmer’s markets. It’s not like going to the grocery story – I don’t have to drag them there, the kids love the sights and smells, they’ll eat the vegetables because they were fun to choose, and we actually spend about the same amount of money for a week’s worth of food as we would at the grocery store.
Yesterday, as the market began to close up, a young couple in their late 20s or early 30s caught my eye. They were packing up to go home. At first I noticed how young they seemed to be to be interested in farming. I realized I was watching a little act of faith in the future of rural life. But what I noticed next was their infant daughter (the bigger act of faith).
It was hot out,but she was completely content lying in her carrier under the canopy as she listened to the hum of her parents’ conversation. They looked tired and ready to go home, but they didn’t look frazzled or worried. They were working hard, but both farmers/parents smiled at each other and at their daughter from time to time. And, as I thought about the hope this farming family represented, I thought about their daughter and her future here in the country.
Few farmers are financially wealthy, and she may want things that kids in other areas take for granted. But when she gets to that age when she’s old enough to notice what she doesn’t have, I’m betting she’ll also start to notice the things she does have. She’ll be surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the northeast. She’ll have the freedom not to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, to breathe clean air, to live close to the land as she gets to know nature.
I know this because even though technology is always competing for my sons’ hearts and minds, their souls are in the mountains. I see it when they emerge from the forest, filthy and full of secrets. I hear it when they excitedly point out the wildlife in the yard. And watching this couple nurture hope under the market canopy, felt my faith in the future of rural life renewed.