Switching channels on the radio in my truck immediately transported me back 35 years as the song "Deacon Blue" by Steely Dan mellowed the airwaves.
Once again, in my mind, I was driving that little sporty tan and dark brown Nova back and forth daily to Samford University in Birmingham.
I could smell the pages of those thick, heavy textbook tomes. Feel the cool stone walls as my sandals pitty-patted down the reverent hallways. Swished my jean-clad bottom across the ebony stool as my sweaty hands touched the ivory keys of the massive Yamaha grand piano that made me both dread my hours in the piano lab, BUT revel in all I was learning.
I was a single mama with two little girls with what seemed to be my whole life of promise and excitement and more than a little fright stretching out before me.
It seemed then there were always a couple of butterflies in the bottom of my stomach. There were so many unknowns in my life. But, while the future was uncertain, it was MY future to mold with my hopes, dreams and ideals.
As the song on the radio ended, the butterflies in the pit of my stomach remained. Even though I’m no longer that bright-eyed, dark-haired young mother, now I’m at a similar life-altering position.
That little Samford student got married the next winter and a much-cherished baby boy was born a couple of years later.
But I’m so thankful there was no crystal ball of the future because I wouldn’t have wanted to know I’d be a widow at age 60. (As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t have even wanted to THINK about turning 60!)
But here I am … stomach butterflies and all.
Once again, plotting and pondering my future.
The women on my mother’s side of the family often live well into their golden years. An aunt recently died in her late 90s, as did my Granny before her.
When I paid a routine visit to my family doctor recently, he just looked at me and said (after saying, of course, I needed to lose some weight!), he "didn’t know what I’d been doing, but to keep doing it!"
Tending goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and the rest of the things that go along with running a small homestead farm keep me much more than just "active," so I could possibly be around for at least another 35 years!
What will I do? Can those next years be as exciting, rewarding and productive?
Once again, there are so many exciting choices!
I have an education (both book-learned and hard-scrabbled-fought!), I have experience and I have my wonderful little farm (well - it’s ALMOST paid for!).
So - what will I do???
The last few months have been months of healing. Now I feel like I’m on the verge of a wonderful adventure.
I don’t plan to leave my farm. I plan to even further explore living life as simply as possible.
A sign on a farm in a recent magazine proclaimed "Dirty hands - Clean Heart" and I plan to keep my hands in the rich soil - a lot!
But I think it’s time to share. I’m not exactly sure in what all ways yet.
People sometimes are surprised to learn I am basically an extremely shy person. If during all these years I hadn’t had a reporter’s notebook, pen and camera in my hands, you might have never ever heard me say a word!
So my sharing may continue a lot by simply putting words on paper.
I’m certainly not an expert at anything.
I’ll likely never write a best-selling book or write a concerto heard around the world (or even a country song heard on local radio!).
I’ll never mesmerize crowds with heart-stirring speeches or win the adulation of thousands for my good deeds.
But I can keep telling stories.
Stories about small family farmers who homeschool their children and work for the good of their communities and churches.
Stories of many older farmers who see the way to feed this nation must be through local farmers’ markets and direct contact with the men and women who raised that grass-fed beef or ear of corn.
Stories of those who live in small towns or big cities and house a few hens in their backyards for fresh eggs, and grow more than half their family’s vegetables in raised beds, fruits from dwarf trees and berry bushes planted in their flowerbeds instead of conventional shrubbery.
Stories of couples who leave their corporate jobs to make delicious cheeses from nutritious sheep milk or who even serve their communities by answering needs like handcrafted wooden caskets.
I can flip a switch and be instantly connected with folks around the world.
But, in spite of all the technology that is almost overwhelming our lives, so many folks like me are realizing the simple things - faith, family, hard work and even juice running down your chin from that first warm homegrown tomato - are really what matters most.
So I plan to continue my journey’s adventure -writing about the joys and rewards of living the simple life.
And I thank all of you, the readers, for your patience, your support and your outpouring of love during my family’s time of healing these past few months.
In closing, I’d like to share some verses that have meant a lot to me as I’ve kept my fingers busy during the past few months as my mind bounced to and fro:
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)* n
*Scripture taken from the Holy Bible; New International Version; Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984; International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer from Blount County. She can be contacted through her website at www.suzysfarm.com.