Of Farmers and Gypsies
It’s this time of year when two aspects of my past and my psyche come out to face one another in a duel to see who might come out on top.
Or if perhaps they both fall over dead. .
The Farmers and Gypsies fight in my head.
Weird, I know.
Have you ever seen the movie Chocolat? It stars Juliette Binoche, the ever yummy Johnny Depp, and a slew of other great actors and is probably on my top 10 list of movies. Movies that I will watch over and over.
Anyway, the inhabitants of a small French village are very traditional until one winter day a sly north wind blows Vianne and her daughter into town were they start a chocolaterie. It’s not that bit of the movie that strikes me so much as the back story and even more of the backstory that you can read in the book.
Vianne, we learn from her personal thoughts, is a witch, though she does not use the word. Her mother and she were wanderers, going from one city to another. They were born with gifts, and used a kind of “domestic magic” to earn their living. Throughout her life, Vianne has been running from the “Black Man”, a recurring motif in her mother’s folklore. When her mother is killed by a cab, Vianne continues on her own, trying to evade the Black Man and the mysterious force of the wind and settle down to a normal life.
That bit about the witch and the wanderer. Hmmm. You see, my father, I swear, is descended from a wanderer. He moved us every two years as I was growing up. New schools, new friends, new neighborhood, new home. And I didn’t mind it too much. It was when he moved us to West Virginia and we stayed there for several years that I hated life.
Then I married and my first husband, the father of my 3 sons, and I talked him into joining the USAF. Ahhhh, moving again. Yes! Illinois, Germany, New Mexico. New friends, new neighborhoods and new homes.
And to this day, in the spring I get that urge to move. To wander.
I’ve settled down now but that urge gets so strong sometimes that it is difficult to resist. My head shouts, “I need to move. NOW!” But my heart is tied to this home, this husband and this family. I couldn’t leave them behind. My heart wouldn’t let me.
Interesting side note: It is said that my paternal grandfather’s father was one of two brothers who came to the US from Ireland. Apparently they were in a bit of trouble due to some horse stealing and they escaped to the US. It explains quite a bit about my family and certain shenanigans. But several of them are also great story tellers so…who knows.
Now, for the other part of my father’s family – my paternal grandmother. That part of the family is English-Irish and I have it traced back to 1720 and a Sir John Jarvis. They were farmers. My maternal grandfather always had a garden, a pig and some chickens. I come from a long line of farmers. Many who had farms big enough that they had to hire “hands” to help.
Every spring I get the itch to get outside, plant a garden and watch it grow. I love being outside riding on my tractor, mowing grass, hauling and shoveling mulch and basically turning myself into a scratched up muddy mess.
Oh, to get my hands in the dirt!
This year I had the idea in my head that I wanted to know more about WHERE the food I eat comes from. Who handles it, and what kind of life it lead before it got to my table. Yes, I’m talking about livestock, but because of where I live we can’t have cows or pigs but my neighbor does have a couple of goats and chickens. While I didn’t want to raise chickens I got my heart set on quail.
When I was in fourth grade our class had an incubator full of quail eggs and we all got to take two quail home. I loved those little guys. Everyone in the class lost their quail pretty quick except this kid named Steve. He had his the longest. Until his dogs got them. But I digress.
I got my heart set on raising quail for eggs and meat. I did a whole bunch of research and even watched videos on how to process quail. I used to help with the chickens on my grandpas farm and I kept hearing that quail were so much easier. I’m not sure if I could really do it or not but it would still be nice to have fresh eggs and meat and know what went into their lives.
But again, reality pokes her head around the corner and tries to talk sense to me.
Where on earth will I get the time to tend quail twice a day?
What about when I travel? Who will care for them?
Do I think that I can really, really, process them?
What will I do with them in the winter to keep them from freezing?
But I’m certain I could sell quail eggs and quail meat to local restaurants or even at the farmer’s market. Surely other people want ethically raised eggs and meat too. Right?
So, do I roam the earth at the first sign of spring or settle in to gardening? Can I have BOTH somehow? Can I be a Farmer and a Gypsy?
Do you have a certain time of year that calls to you and you aren’t sure why? Would you stay near home and garden or pull up stakes and travel the world?