We live our lives on a 12-hour leash around here. We are free to roam just as far as we like each day so long as we are home for both the AM and PM milkings. Today, we stretched that leash to its max by following our 5:30AM milking with a trip to Memphis for a visit to the zoo and some back-to-school shopping before loading back up and heading home, pulling into town right at 5:30PM, just in time to drop Girl 1 off at ballet class and get home for milking.
We always love the zoo and try to make the most of our membership by getting there every couple of months. We especially love the farm area (funny, huh?). Today, the gorilla and sea lions were especially fun, too. After the zoo, though, we headed for the nearest mall to pick up the items I'd determined that the girls needed before school starts. We don't live anywhere near a mall, so it seemed prudent to take advantage of being so near one today. Oddly, though, today's shopping experience left me reeling. I was reminded of yet another excerpt from Kristin Kimball's The Dirty Life:
"As much as you transform the land by farming, farming transforms you. It seeps into your skin along with the dirt that abides permanently in the creases of your thickened hands, the beds of your nails. It asks so much of your body that if you're not careful it can wreck you as surely as any vice by the time you're fifty, when you wake up and find yourself with ruined knees and dysfunctional shoulders, deaf from the constant clank and rattle of your machinery, and broke to boot. But farming takes root in you and crowds out other endeavors, makes them seem paltry. Your acres become a world. And maybe you realize that it is beyond those acres or in your distant past, back in the realm of TiVo and cubicles, of take-out food and central heat and air, in that country where discomfort has nearly disappeared, that you were deprived. Deprived of the pleasure of desire, of effort and difficulty and meaningful accomplishment. A farm asks, and if you don't give enough, the primordial forces of death and wildness will overrun you. So naturally you give, and then you give some more, and then you give to the point of breaking, and then and only then it gives back so bountifully it overfills not only your root cellar but also that parched and weedy little patch we call the soul."
I know enough about farming to know that I'm no farmer. But, I have come to live close enough to the earth lately that my toenails look like the fingernails she describes. Also, I'm realizing that this life we are living is changing me. It's hard to pinpoint or even describe the changes in words. But, I know that I feel so much more alive building a goat shed with my husband or tending my garden or milking my goat or making my soap than I did today at the mall. In fact, the mall sent me into a bit of a panic attack, if I'm being honest. I'm not sure what it all means, but I know that I was sure glad to be home and drink in the smell of the pile of tomatoes waiting to be canned when we opened the backdoor.