I remember when…

[In response to a heads up from Courtney about Ann Dee Ellis’ memoir writing group, and to somehow–I hope–heal the wound of losing a couple of years’ worth of stories when my blog died, I’m jumping in on Day 1.]

emmetI remember when I could walk out my front door and down our long gravel driveway and inhale the deep green heady bite of fresh Oregon peppermint from the vast field across the street.

When I rode my bike to or from work either at the local Abby’s Pizza Inn in town–right about 6 miles–or seemed like a mile shorter to the left towards the Hentz farm I would pass acres and acres of corn, wheat, beans, and, of course, more mint.

When the couple of times I went for a run (I hated running then and I still do) and got my second wind enough to feel up to going around the block that it was a good 4 miles past more acres and acres of the Willamette Valley’s finest crops just to get around the block.

As a youth I spent my summers–40 hours a week–working callouses deep into my hands from the trusty hoe I’d sharpened myself that morning–always mesmerized by the sparks flying from the fresh cut blade–as I hoed acres and acres of some of the best produce in the country.

Every once in awhile the girls (hoers) would be needed to help the (pipe) boys move sprinkler pipe–a job that’s long been replaced with wheeled irrigation. Different muscles. Same sweat under the hot sun.

Last month I went to spend some time with my brother on his newly acquired 10 acres in Emmet Idaho. Every morning and also each night I found myself drawn outside to breathe deeply of the fresh grassy air and connect with the steady rhythm of the stsk stsk stsk of the irrigation sprinklers to either side of me and also a ways back past his pasture.

The last several times I’ve found myself driving northwest through Idaho or down south to Iron County, I’ve felt a pining the quiet peace I knew in the country as a child. No regrets – we came where we were led and planted new roots in a quieter part of this desert city. But still a longing for the roots that once bound me to that part of the earth and an appreciation for something that, once surrounded by, I most certainly took for granted.