Rural Reflections: Beneath the leaves
My grandson Nolan asked me why I like being raised on a farm.
Oh, silly boy, you cannot understand unless you are a farm kid.
The farm was full of mystery, adventure and never dull. I was my dad's shadow, riding on the tractor with him just to enjoy the conversation. His faithful dog was always next to him. Of course, back then, we didn't have enclosed cabs on the tractor, so it was hold on for dear life! (Not sure how the dog managed it.)
Dad was a farm boy. Luckily, he was taught by his parents and a very special aunt to enjoy nature, to learn all he could not only from them but from the life around him every day.
My dad offered me an unusual education. Those lessons now are carried down to another generation.
I doubt that Dad realized the impact he made on this child who shadowed him. A walk with Dad was always an adventure.
When walking across a barren field with Dad, I knew to stop when he stopped. He lifted a finger to his lips and motioned me closer. With a gloved hand, he turned back old, brown leaves, exposing a hollow filled with fur. Gently, he lifted the fur. Nestled there in this soft crib were tiny, brown bunnies barely covered with fur, eyes still not ready to see the world, too young to know fear. Little ears were perfectly formed and tiny pink noses twitched. A treasure unseen, hidden away. How Dad knew it was there, I will never know, but I am forever grateful.
Dad showed me how the killdeer will feign a limp to lure predators away from her fledglings; to sit for hours with fishing pole in hand, watching a silent pond as Dad pointed out birds, bugs and trees. He taught me to rub mint between my fingers, savoring the aroma; to look beneath broad leaves to find the hidden bloom of the ginger plant. We laughed at the jack-in-the pulpit, sitting on his throne, and the violet, hiding the king as he soaked his feet in a tub.
I learned to recognize a shag bark hickory and that buttercups reflected beneath my chin told me that I liked butter (of course, I did). I could drop pebbles into a crawdad hole and hear the water kerplunk or watch a dung beetle roll perfectly round balls toward his home. And the Dutchman always hung his britches neatly in a row.
I learned patience. I learned to be observant. I learned that my world was mystical. Most of all, I learned to protect my own at any risk, to look for beauty where none seemed apparent and to appreciate nature with all of her mysteries.
Quality time with Dad was a gift to me and my grandtwins.
You never know what lies beneath a leaf, until you lift it and peer beneath. Perhaps you will find something beautiful. Perhaps you will find something to protect and preserve.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."
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