There’s something about a girl and her farm roots. There’s a reason why people say that phrase. You know the one. You can take the girl out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl. Or was it Texas? I never really know how it goes. But I do get the drift. I know you do, too.
For me that sentence means home will always be a farm in south central Nebraska. It’s the one that sits on the corner with the big red barn. It’s been in our family since 1901.
Yeah. That one. It’s special. And I’ve spent most my life defending it.
In 7th grade, I realized not all people understood my tiny corner of the world. I was on a school trip to Washington DC. I told a couple boys that I was from Nebraska, they looked at me, laughed and proceeded to ask if I “milked my chickens” and if I “had running water.”
The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. I wasn’t thrilled with their response.
I’ve defended small town farm life in college, during my stint in Texas and even with good friends. Most mean no harm – they likely want to get me worked up – but it’s been a pretty strong passion of mine for a long time. There’s something about this way of life that I want to explain to the rest of the world. I want to eliminate the stereotype – or at least educate others on what it really means to be a farm girl.
It came up last week, those hairs on the back of my neck, after I was asked a very serious question from a naïve, but sweet woman. While I’m use to these questions from out of state friends, I’m always caught off guard when it comes from someone within the Nebraska border.
She introduced herself to me by stating she was from Omaha. She knew I was from Nebraska and that I had lived here for a while. I nodded my head and expected the conversation to continue. But before she went on, she paused – looked me straight in the eye and said, “You’ve been there. Right? Omaha?”
It was 7th grade all over again.
I smiled, gave her an interesting look and the conversation continued. Unfortunately for her, I stopped listening to the words coming from her mouth. I was frustrated with her assumption. You know the one. The – oh you live in the middle of Nebraska so you probably don’t understand much about life – thought. I am 3 hours away, after all – and live in a lowly town of only 30,000 people. Surely I’ve never made my way off the land long enough to venture into the big city. I have to stay back with the kids and pump their water and make sure there’s enough firewood to say warm.
See where I’m going with this?
I know I’m sensitive about this issue. Many people have asked me – Leslie, why do you care so much? So what if people don’t understand. Let me explain.
When you question my way of life, I’m offended. Yes, I had 34 people in my graduating class, didn’t step foot in a Gap until Jr. High School and even (gasp!) grew up without air conditioning. But through the hot days and fashion-less nights, I learned a great deal about this life.
Tradition, hard work, dedication, kindness, friendship, values, simplicity, faith and beauty are just a few words I use to describe these parts. You have an incredibly cool sky line – but have you seen our sunsets? Did you know a long walk on a country road in the fall can change your life? Have you ever had a rooster wake you up?
Me either. He always crowed at the wrong time of day.
This may come as a shock to you, but my husband and I actually choose to live here. We had many big city opportunities, but decided to stay (or, come back actually), to teach our girls the same values we were taught. And hope – that wherever this big world takes them, they will always remember their roots.
If you love your home – like I love mine, I’m sure these words sound familiar. I bet you didn’t realize we had so much in common. Whether you grow up on a farm in Nebraska – or a big city with a fancy skyline – roots run deep.
P.S. to answer your question, yes – I have been to Omaha. But it took me a while to get there. The wheels fell off of the wagon and the Oxen had to stop so many times to rest. I was afraid our whole family would get dysentery, but thankfully we arrived just in time to purchase materials from your fine shops.
Too much? I’ll quit while I’m ahead.