My foray into farm life was certainly idyllic if nothing else. I set my feet in the tall grass of our new pastures with many, many nostalgic dreams in my heart. Looking back now, some 18 years later, I can see with a bit of clarity the ones that were to be and the ones that would elude me.
After hanging up with a friend whose children were heading out the door all at different times to different activities I saw, as if in a crystal ball, my family seated at the table, eating together. It is the one thing that I dreamt about, fought for, and held on to for 18 years and now I think my children would wonder if I had been abducted by aliens if even one of our three daily meals was not set for a family affair.
It seems the dreaming went on for a few years while Brayden was still a baby but as he started to grow the dreaming became a reality and I was determined to sit down as a family at least three times a day (I also had a dream of sitting together and reading every evening – more on that in another post). Now here is where the fighting comes in. Fighting is really too strong a word, it was more like nagging and cajoling but rather than resorting to flattery I used favorite foods. I had everyone make a list of their favorite meals and I tried to make at least two meals from each list every week. Rhayna didn’t have quite as many favorite foods as the rest of us but she loved candles on the table and it was such a soul revealing endeavor to watch her light the candles in the silver candelabra, even for lunch!
Now that family time over meals is solidly entrenched in our family I can see how it is spreading to others in our circle of friends and the family table is opening up and more places are set almost daily as our friends are joining in. Michael Pollan in “In Defense of Food” does a brilliant job reminding us that eating is more than just a method of refueling our “systems” but must be considered much, much more. Our family is refueled by keeping us connected to each other; our friendships are strengthened by the opening of our kitchens and our hearts to others.
In our travels to Germany, Switzerland and Italy we were able to visit many farms and it was obvious that to dine together at home was indeed a mutual privilege. They felt it an honor to serve us and we felt the profoundest gratitude in being served. In all of the visits to other countries I think we only dined at a restaurant once when visiting farm families, all other meals were in homes. I sometimes wonder what is beneath the great difference in our country, where the first notion for visitors is to take them out to dinner. Food for thought I suppose.