It’s been almost a week since I left the small farm in New Jersey, waving to the kids as they ran alongside the car. The “Welcome Katelyn” poster, which had hung on my bedroom door, was tucked into the backseat with messages scribbled into colored markers. I could still taste the cake Ellie baked as a goodbye surprise the night before. Yellow with purple frosting. Henry wanted to eat the piece with the K so Katelyn would be in his stomach.
I took a picture at the farm before leaving–a newly formed WWOOFer tradition. The sheep and goats were camera-shy, skirting just outside the lens of the camera. Rosie, the goose, was the only one willing to pose with me after nibbling at my fingers and pants. I was glad to have some physical documentation of my time on the farm. Ei-ei-o.
The day after I came home, I found myself outside aggressively weeding the overgrown garden near the garage. There was little to nothing salvageable: some flowers and a small pine tree that spouted itself between the long green weeds. I pulled, raked, cut, sliced and relocated two yellow-spotted salamander before the ground was ready to be planted. I surveyed my handiwork with pride. My last two weeks of routine put to the test.
Last night I pulled up Janelle’s bread recipe and followed the directions, mixing flour, salt, and yeast together before letting the dough sit on the counter while I slept. In the morning, I pulled the sticky consistency from the bowl dusting the majority of the kitchen with flour before sliding the steaming loaf out of the oven. Golden crust just like I remembered.
We meet people all the time, those who share our lives for a couple of brief moments or for long years extended from childhood. It’s all too easy to push the gas petal and drive along without stopping to look back and think about the places we’ve been and the people we left. Incorporating past experiences, recipes, gardening tips or favorite jokes can keep those memories in the passenger seat instead of disappearing into the image reflected in the rearview mirror. Thank you Wilkinson family for your warmth, knowledge, and kindness that will follow with me along the road toward the future.