Sunflower Farm

Note: We’re currently in Chicago, looking at houses and schools and praying through too many big decisions. I wrote this journal entry on the trip up to Chicago, though the day I wrote about was last week. More on our crazy weekend in Chicago later!
Mr. and Mrs. Bates live a half mile outside town on the dirt perimeter road. She is from Belgium; he is African American, and they both have grown children from previous marriages and none, I don’t think, from their marriage together. I don’t know the story of when or how they met, though I’d like to hear it.
I began buying fresh eggs from the Bates a few months ago, and I rode my bike out to their farm this morning to get some. They put the eggs and a Tupperware with change in it in an old fridge—like the one in my Mammaw’s house when I was a child—in the carport attached to the back of their house. I left my bike at the front fence and walked down the lane with Chai. Their little dogs (mom and daughter, rat terrier size the both of them) set up a racket, and Mrs. Bates stepped out. I bought three dozen beautiful blue, tan, and green colored eggs, and we chatted, stepping out of the carport to look over the beautiful little piece of land they have named Sunflower Farm.
She asked me about our upcoming move to Chicago, and I told her I was sad to leave Sterling. In her beautiful accent she began telling me that when she was young, she could not have lived in Sterling. “Too small,” she said. “I needed the city, the life. Now it is perfect for us. We like the quiet. I even hang my clothes out like my grandmother in the old country.” She waved a hand at Bates’ bright-colored work shirts waving on the clothesline next to the chicken barn and laughed. “I always said I would never do that.”
She went on to tell me about her grandmother’s bleaching area, a section of the yard where the grass was left to grow long. “Oh, if we forgot and ran through the bleaching yard, oh how would get scolded!” She smiled at the memory. “My grandmother would wash her whites and then lay them wet on the long grass. The grass would somehow whiten the cloth. So bright. When the clothes were dry, she would gather them, wash them one more time and then hang them to dry. We never used bleach,” she said, shaking her head, “but they had to be so clean. It was a shame to have dingy clothes hanging on your line, you know. It reflected badly on them as housewives. That was their world, their only area to shine.”
I had never heard of such a thing, and I wondered at how we lose knowledge like this, understanding of how the natural world can do things we now use chemicals to accomplish. It made me want to let a section of grass in our yard grow long and try it myself (in the same way I want to try canning my own vegetables). Something tells me Dave might not be so interested in the idea!

2 thoughts on “Sunflower Farm

  1. Thank you for bringing back memories of life on the farm. I well remember my grandmother laying out whites to be bleached in the sun. Of course, we are thrilled your family is moving to Chicago. Needless to say we are glad you all will be three hours away vs. fourteen. I must admit, I too will miss Sterling Kansas. I will miss the Sterling Diner and the early morning biscuits and gravy and the bottomless pot of coffee. The “Good Morning Hon, what can I fix you this morning.” I am glad I had the privilege of spending time in Sterling. It is good to look back and remember the small things in life that blessed us. In His grace, Dad U.

    • I miss it, too, but I am so thankful to be back closer to you and Mom U. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support.Love, Jen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s