Every November, my family would collect all the left over tomatoes from our farm that we couldn’t stuff into our bellies the prior three months. The collection was step one in the yearly ritual of canning everything for winter so we would have fresh produce during the long Michigan winter.
Step two in the canning process was to smash the tomatoes in a huge tub with our feet to extract the juice from the pulp. We were old school like that :-). As one might imagine, smashing tomatoes with bare feet is a unique experience. The dark red tomato paste mimics blood, which makes for an epic Hollywood gruesome visual. The smell is a mixture of sweet apples and vinegar which my olfactory memory brings me right back to the farm every time I drink a Bloody Mary. And lastly, the texture is very similar to walking barefoot in mud after a rain storm.
My family moved off our farm to the suburbs of Chicago when I was in 3rd grade. Since I’m 34 years old now (as of Dec 5th), that means I’ve spent only just under 1/4th of my life on the farm and the rest somewhere else.
But what’s interesting is that 80% of my dreams about growing up, aren’t based in our Chicago home, but rather on our Michigan farm. When my family sits around now and tells stories, it’s from the Farm (which I should note has it’s own Facebook Page as one of my brothers is in the process of rehabbing it).
But why? Why does 1/4th of my life dominate 3/4ths of my dreams? I know, based on pure number of years, I had plenty more emotionally charged experiences in Chicago than the Farm. Maybe it’s the land and something deep in the human psyche that longs to be as close to the land as possible bringing us back to our ancestral roots. That’s something I didn’t have in Chicago with neighbors all around. That’s something I don’t have now in NYC with even more neighbors and less land.
Something people don’t know about me is that I’m a country boy at heart that loves the opportunities within big cities. I blame my mom for my love of John Denver, Paul Simon and anything with a steel guitar.