When you live on a farm, there is always dirt in your house. I don’t mean your house is always messy. I mean that physical dirt is almost always a part of the decor. After you’ve been working in the field, no matter how careful you are to shake off, it rides in on your clothes and hands. When you’re preparing food that was pulled out of the ground, it falls out of your harvest basket and onto your floors and counters. And if you have a dog? Well, farm dogs are a special kind of excited to roll in the rotten-smelling mud that still stands from too much spring rain. It’s a pain in the ass, for sure. I imagine in the days of old, women spent a good part of their day removing it from their homes. Dirt. Soil. Earth.
When I put up food (a Southern term for storing food we will eat later) I pretend I’m in the kitchen with the women who went before me – not hard to do in a house with no air conditioning and calfs ungratefully being weaned outside my window. My grandfather’s bow hangs just across from the picture of my great-great grandmother. Except for the radio and wine, there’s only a hint of my being a person who could bop down to Kroger to buy food, so I imagine that what I’m putting up is all we will have for winter. Most of what I put up is ‘farmer food’ – produce that doesn’t look good enough to sell but is perfectly edible. I peel as closely as I can, cut out dark spots and do my best to make the most of what I have.
The winter could be long.
Putting myself in other people’s shoes helps me stay grounded. Reminds me that I am more than the person of privilege typing this blog post. I am generations of women who figured out how to feed their families on precious little and made medicine from the herbs that grew in the forrest. Women who hunted for meat and strapped babies to their backs while they foraged for mushrooms. I am women who watched the people they loved die from disease. And I am the warrior who defended my village against those who would take what was not theirs.
God damn I’m fierce.
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