Neighbors who had ties to the same church as I — though they weren’t members and no longer attended — had experienced a string of “bad luck” that would have done any soap opera writer proud. It would have been funny if it was on a sitcom, but the incidents were true, and tragic. A town friend from church called me one day and wanted to make plans to visit the family, and asked me to go along as I knew them better and knew where they lived. Of course we had to take food, it seems that is what church people do. In this case the church lady thought it would be most appreciated if we took lunch and went at noon. We called the family and made the arrangements. I took a salad to round out the meal.
School was in session so the children were not at home. My friend, who is a generous hostess at her home, had brought along food for three of us, the mother in the home, herself and me. The stickler was the husband, a farmer who “worked” at home, was also present making the portions, except for my salad, quite skimpy indeed. I was puzzled by how little food she supplied because she is a generous woman.
After we left, the church gal mentioned that she wished she had known the man of the house was going to be eating the meal with us; she would have brought more food. It never dawned on me to bring it up the fact that he would be there also. She had been at our home several times and she knew that part of my daily activities included cooking lunch for my husband. I had to bite my tongue because I wanted to ask her where in the world did she think the husband would eat at noon? At the McDonald’s out in the cornfield in front of the house? In reality it is 55 miles to the nearest McDonald’s and 30 miles to a local café.
After recalling a prior discussion I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
On an earlier excursion with this same woman, we happened upon a small cattle drive on a rural road. Two ranchers were moving their cattle from one pasture to another and they trailed them horseback. As we slowly drove through the herd in order to get to our destination more quickly, she said to me, “Is that how they always move cows or are they doing it on horses because it’s fun?”
As recollections go, these scenarios weren’t big occurrences in my life, yet the impressions seem to be lasting and have prompted me to write about what city people should know about the rural life.
Peggy writes from the family farm in southwestern South Dakota. Her internet latchstring is out at ThankAFarmer4Food@yahoo.com. ❖