by Nic Olson
When I get to the farm I feel inept. Like a child putting shoes on the wrong feet. Like a man who doesn’t know the names of the different tips of screwdrivers. Even after leaving a provincial highway, with the pops and clinks of gravel on the floorboards, I become uncertain. Unable. Unknowledgeable. Unworthy. It sure feels right, but is like walking through lava on high heels. The farm makes me see myself for the stupid, ignorant, weak city boy that I am. Farmer vision. I put my straggly hair in a pony tail and embarrassedly talk about working at a clothing store and at a nightclub. I struggle through conversation, as more facetime with screens than human beings erodes the art of conversation. Pretty well useless.
Farms have always been a vacation location, a place to escape the city to enjoy machinery, burn chaff, ride horses, jump bales. My life has only experienced the farm without the hard work that makes the farm what it is. I envy such friends that own farms, or work on farms. Where real work is satisfying, physically and mentally.
In the city I always at least feel adequate. Like my lifestyle is decent, progressive, acceptable. But when I get to the farm, it is exposed as childish, not important, vain, passing. The city is where people go to die. My body deteriorates because I don’t believe in working out. If I could only work a job shovelling manure or driving combine, my mind would be at ease and my body would be in tune.
But I know the farm is in me somewhere. Grandpa left the farm and moved to the city but kept the mind of a farmer, the frugality, the work ethic, the stubbornness, and passed it on to his grandkids. So this summer I will be a city-farmer. I will plant vegetables and hope for them to grow. I will water them with rainwater and hope not to drown them. I will pick weeds and hope not to ignorantly, pick the vegetables accidentally. I will try not to fuck up, and if I do, I will fix it. Or forever resign to my fate as a useless city boy.
I can break out of this someday. I will be a farmer someday.