As I stood in a vast field of barley where I could see nothing but sky and land around me, it was hard for me to believe that I would be in Brooklyn in a matter of hours. But I'll get to that later!
I had come back home to the farm in Saskatchewan, my 5th trip this year, for harvest time. All of the farmers were out in the field day and night. The dust from the swathers and the combines seemed to constantly hang in the air from the dry summer.
I remember harvests past when I was growing up there and how stressful it was for my Dad and all the farmers we knew. Weather dictated absolutely everything. As long as there was no rain, there was no rest. I would sit on the roof and watch the combines in the fields surrounding our house, too young to understand what my Dad was going through because I had never not known food on the table or a roof over my head. My appreciation has grown exponentially since then for his passion and dedication to farming, his love of the land and what it provided for our family.
As always, being back on the farm was both healing and bitter sweet. Memories of my Mom and brother and when we all lived there together came flooding back as they tend to do. It is hard to believe that one half of my immediate family is gone and only Dad and I remain. It is not a reality I accept very easily and prefer to live in complete denial most of the time.
I visited my brother's grave and played him two of his favourite songs like I always do when I'm there: "On the Combine" by High Valley and "John Deere Green" by Joe Diffie.
When I go there, I can't deny what happened anymore. I suppose that is a good thing in a way to help me accept this new reality, but I know that I have a long way to go before I do.
I have written before about how healing taking photos is for me. I feel completely present..grounded. I am in the moment. I feel hyper aware of life as it unfolds around me and I think it has helped with feeling connected to our home that my brother loved so much.
I was delighted when my cousin Steve asked me to take some photos of harvest while I was there for Tomtene Seed Farms. I got to ride around in the combine with him as well as his wife Jeanette and of course with my Dad in the swather and drive around in a pick up truck from field to field taking pics. It was so nice to be doing something completely different than what I am used to doing every day which is usually either sitting in front of my computer or at my jewelry bench!
Farming has changed a LOT since I was a kid. Farmers have a lot more land and sometimes several combines going in a field at once, all equipped with GPS so that the crop can be taken off as quickly and efficiently as possible. When I used to ride around with my Dad when I was really little, I basically sat on the arm rest (or at least that's what I remember it as). Now there is a real passenger seat to sit on...so luxurious! Some swathers didn't even have cabs back in the day....I suspect there were a lot more "farmer tans" back then.
One of the biggest highlights was getting to attend a "field meal". My cousin Susan brought out a delicious lasagna to the field while other family members came out to partake. The lawn chairs were set out in a circle and the spread set up on the tailgate of one of the trucks as the parked combines and tractors towered around us. This used to be no big deal to me, but now, after being away from this kind of stuff for so long, I was so happy to be able to experience it again.
After everyone's bellies were full and the lawn chairs back in the truck box, they headed back out onto the machinery and I flew around taking photos. One of these eves, Bella the dog joined me. The life of a country dog is pretty freaking swell, I'd say.
Another highlight was my Aunty Ruby calling out to the farm on a Sunday night close to 10 to say she was coming by to drop "something" off. She arrived a few minutes later with steaming hot cinnamon buns fresh from her oven!
The cinnamon buns were sooo delicious and made my tummy happy, but it was my Aunt's sweet gesture and thought that made my heart all ooey gooey.
EVERYONE needs an Aunty Ruby in their life:)
It is unfortunate that sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring people together again. My brother's passing has brought me back to my home and the people I love several times this year. I had a yearning to be close to my roots, which makes me feel closer to him. His passing has made me so much more aware of the brevity of life and that we don't have forever to spend time with the people we love and do everything we want.
I knew that going to NY 10 days before I had to do a major show (Etsy Made in Canada) was not the most practical thing, but there was an awesome photo festival (Photoville) happening that I had been wanting to go to for YEARS and Rockaway Beach was calling for me to come back and shoot there too!
One of the top 5 regrets of the dying is, "I wish I hadn't worked so much." I look back on my life now and when I see the highlight reel, the days where I decided to stay home and work are not in there! But the days where I accepted an invitation to go for a tea or decided to take that little road trip bring zero regrets and nothing but warm memories.
I knew deep down that the universe wanted me to be happy and if I followed my heart, I couldn't go wrong.
So off I went. From those barley fields, I was on a subway hours later headed for Brooklyn from Newark with little sleep but great excitement for what was in store for me there...
Next up...Brooklyn and the Beach!
"I had to trust life, since I was young enough to believe that life loved the person who dared to live it."
- Maya Angelou
Just a little reminder that holiday markets are right around the corner (yikes!). To see where I will be selling this year, click here. If you can't make it to one of the shows, virtually everything I bring to the shows is on my new website here! For more travel pics, new products and inspiration, follow me on Instagram.