Last Sunday was Family Day at the farm, and the rainy morning found a haphazard smattering of Sand Risers trudging around the property in rubber boots and rain jackets; attempting to whip our common area into some kind of hospitable space. Promptly at 1 pm, Kelly’s parents rolled in, followed by an impressive convoy of the Corrina Crew. By now the rain had ceased, and I was putting the finishing touches on some shared-space weed wackery. I reluctantly shut down the machine, breathed in one last satisfying lungful of mixed gas fumes, and took in the scene — broken buckets and scrap wood piled outside of the silo; mesh table leaning awkwardly against the stone pile by the rock house; metal spikes sticking up threateningly from the pack-shed entrance. The space looked… lived in, but passable.
Messy though it was, I was excited to host my parents on our farm. After a season of fruitless attempts to persuade them into a visit, I couldn’t wait to show them around. They finally arrived, and Mom escorted my three-year old niece Scarlett to her first port-a-potty experience while I walked Dad around the property a bit. “Yep, so we have this strawberry and currant patch up here now that we transplanted earlier in the spring. We can pick some of these a little later if we want. Those apple trees were planted last year. You can see the edge of that raspberry patch over there; those we moved over this year, too. That whole plot is actually newly tilled this season…
“Yeah, we had to haul all of these hoophouses over here and build them earlier this spring. That’s what we were doing when we borrowed your trailer.”
“Hmm, wow.” He stroked his grey fu-man musingly.
We walked past the remaining wagon of seedlings yet to be planted. “Where do all these come from?” he asked.
“We seed them in the greenhouse earlier in the spring and bring them out. We leave them on the trailer so we can pull them in and out as they are hardened off.”
“Man,” he looked around, removing his cap and scratching his head. “This is a lot of work.”
He wasn’t lying. We finished our lap and gathered by the pig fence with the other early arrivals. I started the introduction to Kelly’s folks, and watched with satisfaction as a conversation started off. The pigs joined in from the other side of the fence; grunting and snorting their input happily.
The party took off from there, as Lorenzo rolled in with JokerDog and some Asian-inspired Venison and Rice, and Asher brought a hot cast-iron of Cheesy Bean Dip. We fired up the grill, tapped a keg of Upstream Cider, and got to socializing,
Scarlett took a shining to Kelly, and the two adventured around, picking flowers and chatting. JokerDog bounded the premises gloriously and happily, filling some small bit of the void left by Lotus. As meal-time approached, however, there was another conspicuous absence. The food table was loaded and set; the hot dogs were blackening; the cider was cold, but where was Ella Bartnik? The mothers waited with increasing anticipation.
Finally, she and the rest of the Hungarian sect arrived — a half hour after meal-time had started — which was okay, as we had no more seats, plates or utensils available. Polly served herself on an upside-down frisbee, and I grabbed a Tupperware cover for plating my dessert. Scarlett and Kelly abandoned their seat for the gardens, the Hungarians were fed, and the party carried on.
My folks and some of the early-leavers took off, and the setting became more intimate as the crowd thinned. Polly and Vercsi threw around the dual-purpose frisbee, communicating the little bit they could, and teams took turns on washer-toss. Finally getting my hands on my daughter, I walked her around the land, giving her a close-up view of some of the plants and flowers. She wriggled and wiggled in my arms; grunting and blowing spit-bubbles on her chin.
Returning to the crowd, I held her out to Monica’s dad, Pat. “Have you held her yet?”
He laughed nervously. “Hehe, no; uhh…”
“Oh, come on Pat!” interjected Stephanie laughingly, and Monica joined in the chiding. Finally, he held out his arms, shaky with nervous anticipation. I handed her over, and we found ourselves in an impromptu photo shoot, much to the delight of the Endres crowd. The evening closed in as we laughed and lounged.
Finally, the party wound down, and everyone left but for the Sand-Risers and a handful of Hungarians; straightening out a bit of the mess. It had been wonderful to enjoy some recreational time on the land with my RSO companions, with whom the focus is so often work. I mused on the subtle sense of validation I felt after hosting all of our folks in our space like this. Sure, our lifestyle is probably a bit different from most, but the fact that they were willing to enter our world and enjoy some space and time together was a great blessing, and made for a wonderful Sunday.