Before I left on my road trip, I never realized how healing driving can be. Long hours alone in the car can be filled with times of tears, times of reflection, times of imagination, or times of peaceful zoning out. Yet not all roads are the same. The breathtaking bluffs in Big Sur, California are beautiful, but the narrow winding roads which are host to what seem like million mile drops to the crashing surf below left me holding my breath. The roads in the lush Pacific Northwest had me gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles due to the blinding sheets of rain coming down. The sleeting snow in the Utah mountain pass and the gusty winds in Wyoming left a kink in my neck and my eyes pinprick dry from holding them open for fear of looking away from the treacherous driving conditions. However the Midwest roads were different and special. Driving through farm country instantly relaxed me. Nebraska and Iowa farmland is a bit flat and Wisconsin farms have rolling hills and lakes. Yet still, all of them had evidence of harvested corn or soybeans, the smell of manure in the air, friendly cows, and crisp red barns with a filled silo or 5 nearby. No matter what the farmland I was driving through, I felt my shoulder muscles relax, my furrowed brow melt, and my thoughts soften. I wrote about my healing daily walks through the soybean fields when I visited my friend Beth Howard in the American Gothic House. I also wrote about my experience with a field of Sandhill Cranes and Amish farmers during my visit to my family in Wisconsin.
I was born and raised in Wisconsin and although I’ve never lived on a farm, farms scream “home” to me. And now that I am an adult, I realize how vital agriculture is to our very existence. We need food to survive, yet we seldom give thought to from where that food comes. It comes from farms. Some are large corporate farms, others are small independent family farms, and yet others are organic farm co-ops. Whatever the case, I respect, admire, and bow down to all farmers. Farming is a laborious job with long hours, dirty fingernails and I’m sure many back spasms. On this, the day of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, I must say I’m baffled at how the filmmakers from my former industry are put on pedestals yet farmers are relegated to the back burners of many people’s minds. It’s clear to me that farmers are the real stars of the bunch.
And all of the above is why I was thrilled when the Maryland Howard County Economic Development Authority asked if they could use the picture of Beth and me in front of the American Gothic House as the cover photo for the Central Maryland Women in Agriculture conference brochure. More and more women are taking over the family farm, and although I’ve never farmed a day in my life, I’m proud to have played a farm girl in my prized American Gothic photo.
Read me on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-buckley/