Featured song: “To Ramona” – Bob Dylan
It was tough to come up with the initial entry for this blog. I spent hours ruminating over what I was supposed to say about myself to properly express who I am, what this blog will be, how the reader will understand where I’m coming from and what I want to say. Then! A small epiphany. I don’t have to get everything across in one entry. There are so many more to come …
What are some key words you use to describe yourself? When the world wide web asks you to fill out the ‘About’ section of your profile, when Twitter asks you to describe yourself in so many words – is there a description you gravitate to? Some key phrases?
I always use the word ‘Nostalgic’ – ‘Nostalgic Idiot’ more often than not. Nostalgia is: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. It’s the human condition. We all embody this. I dwell on it more than most.
How fitting for the setting of this first blog entry to go back to where it all began, the acreage where I spent the majority of my youth. The family farm.
The house is about 25-30 minutes outside of Winnipeg and has been in my family since I was born. I spent years there when I was a toddler, lived elsewhere in rural Manitoba and returned to live there when I was ten years old, when my Baba passed away. (The property belonged to my Baba & Grandpa – my Grandpa still lives there, now with my Dad) At eighteen, I moved out on my own, directly into the heart of Winnipeg. So long, country life.
Not a lot of people can say that their childhood home is still in their family. I am grateful that I can. However, the emotion that each visit conjures up is nearly indescribable.
Every time I bite into a regular field cucumber. You know that disgusting bitter taste you sometimes get? That tastes like the farm to me. Fresh dill. Crunchy snap peas. Softened Saskatoon berries. That tastes like walking up and down the rows in the enormous thriving vegetable garden when I was little and watching my Baba nourish each plant so it would reach its full potential. The smell of grain dust, the smell of mothballs, the smell of rich Ukrainian food. That smells like the farm to me.
Then, circa early 90s:
And not many people can return to those places they stow away in their mind, in a physical way. Sure, you can reach back into the depths of your psyche and revisit – but I have the ability to take a twenty five minute drive and land right where I started.
But guess what? It’s not the same. And it’s a reality check, every time. It’s a reality check that things change. (Surprise, surprise) Not just people. People are always moving, growing, evolving, falling in and out of love, getting new jobs, getting new ideas. That is obvious.
For me, this is always a slap in the face. The wood is falling apart, the grime is thicker, the weeds are higher. Everything changes and nothing is constant. It’s frightening – the seemingly stable ground is always moving. I used to lean against an old farm tractor in front of the field and write pages and pages of drivel (teen angst) while the sun went down. That tractor is gone – sold, deteriorated, whatever.
I’ve seen in some movies, the main character returns to their childhood home to find their bedroom exactly the same, untouched. Teddy bear still in its exact spot on the bed. Blankets folded just how they left them. Pretty sure that’s fiction for a reason.
And so it’s hard for me to go back. But it’s necessary. I need that time to reflect on what’s important – what IS the same. Why accepting change is something we all have to learn, because we have no choice.
I visited the farm this past Friday, and my Dad showed me around the garden. It’s not the same. But him and his girlfriend have made something beautiful. Among the weeds, there is growth. Cabbage, zucchini, squash – growth. Change. Beauty. Care. My Grandpa is 90 years old and still lives there. EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD has changed around him. He wouldn’t have it any other way. The farm is still the farm. It’s still his farm.
Like I said, it’s tough every single time. Nostalgia coats every facet of your being – almost in a thick, syrupy way. It’s hard to rinse it off. But sometimes when you do, when you scrub really hard, it’s clean.
It doesn’t smell like Ukrainian food anymore. Now it smells like an amazing garden fresh meal you make with your Dad & his girlfriend, then hanging out and enjoying it in front of the fire. And as always – you can leave all your city troubles at the door.
My dog, Basil:
Me, and my Dad’s girlfriend, Anna: