When was the last time you found yourself on a farm? That wide open feeling, the fresh air washing over you with a crisp, Fall tinge. Most of us rarely go to such environs these days, choosing to take so-called “outdoor time” at pools, ball games, and the like, to the extent that we bother with outdoors at all. And even then, our heads are buried in small screens.
Well, I got to visit a good-sized farm in Pittsboro, North Carolina for a “weenie roast” with my wife and some of her co-workers. About 30 miles from our Cary apartment, the absolute quiet I experienced when stepping from the car made it feel as if I had traveled not only a great spatial distance, but also back in time.
Of course, I had never met any of the individuals present, but they had heard lots about me and so were not surprised with the self I present. Handshakes and introductions were passed around, and I immediately began to worry about the cool air as we were starting at 4:30 PM and the yard’s big trees stopped what little sun might have been available. And cold was the day’s theme.
Initially, we just milled around near their fire pit, and I made small talk with anyone in the area. All of her co-workers are female, and they brought along their husbands, boyfriends, and children. Someone’s daughter had attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as I had, so I of course had to represent 49er nation.
After a little more chattering, alternating between big, wooden chairs placed around the perimeter and standing in front of the blessed fire pit heat to increase my core temperature, we grabbed a table to eat some food. I had a hot dog piled high with Cole slaw and ketchup, some baked beans, cheese balls and a cold cup of sprite. As we sat, the little kids played and rode around with a small tractor, and we laughed as the ten or so cows made their lazy way around the open pasture. “It’s a real cow!” A woman from the North shouted, making everyone laugh even harder.
Once everyone had gotten their fill, the real fun began. We all, numbering approximately 30, scrambled aboard a sizable hay-filled wagon to be pulled around that same circular pasture by a tractor. This hay was compacted into solid bales though, lining both sides like benches, so one did not end up with hay in every undesirable place as I have on previous hayrides. Someone exclaimed that the cows might charge us, but of course they just lopped along in a line probably wondering what we all were doing. I actually found it less cold while we were in motion than I had sitting out at the tables, perhaps because there were so many crammed into a not-so-big space.
On returning, we all gathered around the fire pit again for s’mores with roasted marshmallows. Being the city slicker that I am, this was my first time eating a s’more. I liked the complementary flavors of graham cracker and roasted marshmallow, though I managed to make a little bit of a mess. But then maybe a s’more isn’t a s’more unless you get good and sticky.
After consuming and washing up as best we could, we took seats around the fire and continued the merriment. By this point, nearing 8 PM, I needed to place myself in front of a blasting heater and feel my fingers again. So I suggested this as gently as I could, and the party was already kind of breaking up anyway. Just as we readied for departure, a cute German Shepherd wanted to introduce himself to me by aggressively trying to leap into my lap. I found it amusing though, as I love dogs.
And that was about the crux of it. I enjoyed it as a different kind of experience, giving me the feeling of a Fall Harvest celebration and, as I said at the beginning, something that we just don’t do enough of anymore. And it sure did give me a new appreciation for being warm! More adventures await.