Sunday, January 07, 2007

Giving Thanks

There were a lot of posts that I didn't get to between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Now, there are a couple I'd still like to write. One is about Thanksgiving. We were in CT with my mom's brother and family, and my 90 year old grandfather. It has always been one of my favorite places in the world, my grandpa's farm. It has been in our family for generations and when I was young it was such a special getaway. I don't know that I have any digital pics of the farm itself, so I will do my best to describe it. My grandma would be cooking up something in the kitchen, even during the hottest summers. She always ate my burnt toast because she said it made your hair curly. My grandfather and my uncle would be planting or picking, fixing the tractors, preparing for a farmer's market, chatting with neighbors or visitors to the farm stand, or driving children on the hay ride to pick pumpkins. In the cold winter, my grandfather would be in the greenhouse planting for the next season. It was not a perfect place. There were always several old cars around and something needed fixing. Nonetheless, I would wander for hours, exploring the brook that meandered over the farm, or visiting with the girls who worked summers picking. I hated tomatoes, but I loved picking them fresh off the vine. We would always have fresh vegetables with dinner and catch fireflies in the evening. If there was a thunder and lightning storm (which my grandma and I loved), she would let us stand on the porch and watch the fantastic show. At the T Family Farm, it was ok to get dirty and the days lasted forever. As I got older, I worked on the stand helping people pick the best fresh vegetables and watching over my younger siblings and cousins. I loved using the old-fashioned cash register and hearing the stories of people who had been coming here for years. My uncle had revived this farm with my grandfather and somehow made a living at it when few people in this area were able or interested. It made me proud and so happy.

The stand doesn't run anymore, although the T Family Farm sign still hangs at the end of the long driveway leading to my grandpa's farmhouse. He's 90 and he doesn't get out to the greenhouse in the winter. He still plants in the house though and occasionally ambles down to check out the pond we used to skate on. He is an amazing man - his skin is perpetually tan and leathery from the weather - and he could tell you everything about raising bees for honey. Grandpa and I would ride to NY State in the later years to pick up fresh corn when we couldn't keep up with the demand. We would leave early in the morning and drive through little villages and talk. My uncle still grows some vegetables and hires several men to pick for him. He goes to three farmer's markets a week and is always generous with customers. If someone is trying to decide whether to try his garlic, he throws it for free and tells them to try it and see how they like it.

My aunt and uncle have always lived a simple life. I adored my aunt as a child. She seemed so much "cooler" than my mom. I think she was just a hippie. She wore bikinis when we went to the beach. She took me shopping (she only had boys) and she taught aerobics. When she went to aerobics at 5am, I went along to swim and have "Auntie" time. In case you couldn't tell, I loved everything about that place.

I have 3 male cousins. My aunt and uncle live in an old house with wood beams, and no TV. As a child, I wondered how my cousins survived (and we didn't watch much TV at our house!). For Thanksgiving, it was my brother and I and 2 of my cousins. The 2 younger cousins (my sister and my cousin) were out of the country. It was calm and relaxing, family style food and wonderful family time. While we were there, I read an article in the paper about my uncle. It made me very proud of my family.

The story is about how my uncle wants to make sure the land for the farm stays protected. My mom and uncle own all the land, because my grandpa thought it best. The story detailed that there is no one in the family who wants to take over the farm and that my uncle has been thinking about how best to protect it. He has been making arrangements with the city to make sure it is protected land that can't be sold to developers or turned into shopping malls or housing developments. We will retain some land with the houses and the there will be city parks and walking trails. There will be nature learning for students and open space. How great is that? I am so proud to be a part of a family who are so well-grounded and who care about our environment and future. It made me very thankful to have grown up with such great role models.

I only hope that my cousins and siblings can live up to the great examples in our family....

2 cousins (plus one significant other), me and my bro

** This is such a long post, but it was a feeling I wanted to document before I forgot it or it faded.**


carrster said...

Wow! Sounds like a really amazing place. You have some wonderful memories. I can just imagine hanging out there on those long summer days. *sigh* It's really wonderful that your family is working to protect the land from development. Nice! Every little bit helps. :)

Kelli said...

Such a good post! And what a sweet and wonderful family. We should all take the time to document our families like this. Nice Katy!