We got to spend summers at my grandparents farm, learning lots of useful skills, without actually knowing it. I perfected my top stitching there. I learned where the phrase "like a chicken with it's head cut off" comes from first hand. I learned how to herd sheep (sort of).
We had popcorn and apples for dinner when cooking just wasn't on the menu. There was always some kind of baked good stashed in the freezer, or if it was winter, on the stairs leading up to the north and blue rooms. If you're lucky, I'll make you one of my favorite treats -- Bugles with peanut butter dipped in chocolate. Salty sweet goodness.
We learned valuable math skills while playing gin rummy, spelling (with the assistance of a huge ancient dictionary sometimes) by playing Scrabble and all around sportsmanship because Grandma didn't let us win.
Later, while in college a funny shaped box would show up in my SPO now and again. Always recognizable on site, Grandma liked to reuse boxes from granola bars, cut down cereal boxes, etc. Friends would wonder why I was getting a box of granola bars in the mail, but I knew there was homemade goodness to be found inside. And I was happy to share...if I had to.
The lessons we didn't know we were learning were about being strong, and independent. Always willing to lend a hand to someone in need...but unwilling to take any guff from anyone. The bank teller always greeting my grandfather with a smile, he with a twinkle in his eye, taught kindness...even though our eye was on getting the lollipop for the drive home.
Honesty. Intrgrity. Compassion. Kindness.
Some would say these lessons are rooted in small town, rural middle America. I say they are rooted in family, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.
May I strive to be the kind of woman that has a stream of guests coming to see her because she's been away from them from too long. With a twinkle in my eye, and kindness in my heart I hope to always be a living example of all these lessons, even in what seems to be the darkest of hours.
See? I told you.
We are the lucky ones.
(This is a rendering of a drop for THE ORPHANS HOME CYCLE) which hangs in my office and reminds me of my Grandparent's farm.)