Have you ever been homesick for a hayfield? I really don’t know if this is a thing, or if I’m just weird. Or if this is all fallout from the latest developments in our lives, which I posted last, The Sudden Plot Twist.
Usually I enjoy living in the city. Crisp morning walks down spacious sidewalks. Ivy on bricks. Curving bridges dotted with black lampposts.
However, last week, I had enough.
I was homesick for the country
Or at least a patch of green hayfield. It progressed gradually, like a virus.
- First, a man stopped me as I was walking to the post office. I was half sick, but had forced myself to get out. The man asked me for something to eat. A few quarters shuffled in his hand to show that he didn’t have enough to buy food on his own. He sat, leg-less, in an electric scooter which he claimed had no power. He waved the end of the power cord at me as if that proved that it didn’t have power. But how did he get out onto the sidewalk without power? That’s what I wanted to ask but didn’t. I told him I wasn’t feeling well myself and had to go to the post office. But I agreed to stop at Hotdoggedy’s to get him some food. When I got back, I told him I wanted to hear some of his life story. That’s when I noticed the bumpy scabbiness on his arms. Meth, most likely. But what do I know?
- The next day, the grogginess enveloped me again. I tried to get a few things done, but the day stretched out like a fog. Again, I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. Then, the tribe of neighborhood kids descended on the community garden. No adults. They opened the neighbor’s fence and let out their bulldog, then tore through the garden with him. When I saw a green butternut squash spiraling through the air, I lost my patience. I went out, told them they needed to leave the garden if they were going to throw things, and helped put the dog back in the fence. As they left, a rock hurtled through the air and struck the “Children Playing” street sign. Twice.
Let’s just say, I suddenly needed that hayfield.
Just give me some green fields, a rippling creek, and some Angus calves. A place where I can go on a walk and not be asked for food or threatened by flying rocks and packs of feral children. A place where I could lie on my back in a hayfield and not see civilization in any direction.
Well, northern Indiana really isn’t the greatest place to go looking for this. But Sunday night, I told my Aunt Virginia about this problem and she said she had a hayfield for me.
We chatted for awhile with my aunt and uncle and cousin.
“I just want to move to Nevada,” I said.
“Let me give you a piece of advice,” my Uncle LaVerne said. “Don’t make any rash decisions for nine months.”
Marnell listened patiently. He’s heard it all before!
Finding the Hayfield
After we chatted and they left for a family event, I went out and laid in a field of clover and stared at the small bugs swirling between me and the cloudless sky.
I watched the rim of the world turn rainbow colors in memory of the sun. Over on the lawn, Marnell practiced throwing discs. Warming up for Thanksgiving disc golf with his nephews, assuming I am functional enough that we can go.
It was lovely.
We drove back into Elkhart, and I had to admit that I always love the drive under the viaduct into the darkening city, lights popping on everywhere.
A few days later, I walked to my neighbor Mary’s house and ran into the same pack of children.
“My dad just got out of prison!” the one girl told me triumphantly.
“I hope my dad gets out soon,” a boy said behind her.
Hmmm. Maybe this is why I love living in the city. As a reminder of how small my own perspective on the world can be sometime. I don’t recall having any childhood friends whose dads were in prison. Here, it is commonplace.
And, here’s a snippet of my conversation with the man by the post office.
(Uh, yes, I confess… “I know some people who have been in prison” was a lame attempt to sound understanding. My own comment reminds me of the sharply-dressed old lady who approached me at the coffee shop the other day and explained that her “Amish neighbor lady” had brought her some soup. We humans have these weird ways of trying to make people think we understand them perfectly. I don’t fully understand Donny Jackson, any more than the old lady fully understood me.)
I think I would enjoy living in a desolate place, at least for awhile. But I probably wouldn’t find such rich details out on a ranch in Nevada, or even in a green hayfield. I might even get homesick for Elkhart and its craziness.
Speaking of moving from the city to the country! Read on….
Update: From the White House to the Amish
We have some big news. We are producing an audiobook!
Marnell’s talented friend Conrad Bear is narrating it. If things go well, you will be able to get the book directly from us or on most established audiobook platforms such as Audible.
Conrad is a great vocal artist. I’m hoping to share a sample next week from From the White House to the Amish.
Are there any people in your life who don’t read books, but who might listen to this? According to the Books and Mennonites survey (results being shared with email list), 14.4% of you enjoy audiobooks. This number, by all general statistics, is growing rapidly.
Note: last week, I didn’t write a blog due to the holiday. However, I sent a brief email. Just be aware that if I get too “under the weather”, I may write fewer blogs and stick with emails. There will also be occasional personal content that I will share only by email and not on this website, especially with the advent of Miracle.
If you want a copy of the print book, From the White House to the Amish, but don’t want to bother watching to see when it arrives, you can preorder it here. As soon as the book arrives, I will send out all pre-orders first.