Never Leaving the Land

My grandparents owned the land,
worked the land, bound
to the earth by seasons of planting
and harvest.

They watched the sky, the habits
of birds, hues of sunset,
the moods of moon and clouds,
the disposition of air.
They inhaled the coming season,
let it brighten their blood
for the work ahead.

Soil sifted through their fingers
imbedded beneath their nails
and this is what they knew;
this rhythm circling the years.
They never left their land;
each in their own time
settled deeper.
~Lois Parker Edstrom “Almanac” from Night Beyond Black. © MoonPath Press, 2016

My husband and I met in the late 70’s while we were both in graduate school in Seattle, living over 100 miles away from our grandparents’ farms farther north in Washington. We lived farther still from my grandparents’ wheat farm in Eastern Washington and his grandparents’ hog farm in Minnesota. One of our first conversations together, the one that told me I needed to get to know this man better, was about wanting to move back to work on the land. We were both descended from peasant immigrants from the British Isles, Holland and Germany – farming was in our DNA, the land remained under our fingernails even as we sat for endless hours studying in law school and medical school classes.

When we married and moved north after buying a small farm, we continued to work full time at desks in town. We’ve never had to depend on this farm for our livelihood, but we have fed our family from the land, bred and raised livestock, and harvested and preserved from a large garden and orchard. It has been a good balance thanks to career opportunities made possible by our education, something our grandparents would have marveled was even possible.

Like our grandparents, we watch in wonder at what the Creator brings to the rhythm of the land each day – the light of the dawn over the fields, the activity of the wild birds and animals in the woods, the life cycles of the farm critters we care for, the glow of the evening sun as night enfolds us. We are blessed by the land’s generosity when it is well cared for.

Now forty years after that first conversation together about returning to farming, my husband and I hope to never leave the land. It brought us together, fed our family, remains imbedded under our fingernails and in our DNA. Each in our own time, we will settle even deeper.

Thank you to retired RN and poet Lois Parker Edstrom for this exquisite poem about living and dying on the land. It has been my privilege to meet her and her husband and welcome them to our farm.
Your words have brought me many blessings!

8 thoughts on “Never Leaving the Land

  1. Thank you Emily for this life-filled homage to your heritage in/with the land. Stewarding whatever land I’ve landed on in my 79 years is in my DNA, a gift that brings great satisfaction, (including the not-so-fun facets of the task! ) Just last night as I made myself pull up the “spent” daisies before the light was all gone, I said out loud, “Thank You Lord for the nudge to persevere through the “I don’t wanna, but I’m gonna” job, so to then enjoy the results!…and take my spent body in to have a cup of tea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My father and I left the land we lived on for all but 4 of his 96 years and all of my 70 years. He now lives in a personal care facility and I live a short drive away in a one bedroom apartment. He made the move in April. I made the move just last week.

    Life brings changes. I fed the birds year round for the last 19 years. No bird feeders allowed here. God sent a red headed woodpecker to my feeding station the last month at my previous location. It was a wonderful finale. A robin has been visiting near my tiny patio. We mowed lots of lawn. On Monday, I watched several Mennonite girls flying about here mowing the lawn.. Nature is still all around. There’s a walking path near a preserved area nearby.

    There is land. Not our land. Land shared by many.
    I look for the good in the new normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Emily,

    I love the poem. It was my mother’s life! (Marilee Pomeroy Sauter -granddaughter of Eliz Fanny Mae Gibson Young) and Tim’s life growing up on a large working 600 acre diversified crop farm. We only have an acre, but we are glad we don’t live in the city.

    I appreciate you!

    In Christ,

    Rachel Janzen

    Liked by 1 person

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