Is there anyone of us who has not, at sometime in our lives, dreamed of abandoning our hectic existence in the city (big or not-so-big) for life in the country? We yearn to give up the rat race, the daily commute, the headaches of traffic and bosses and noise, and throw it all over for fresh air, home-grown tomatoes, and the blessed peace of not having to answer to anyone (or to any constantly-ringing phones).
Bean Blossom Dreams is the chronicle of the first two years at a farm in Brown County, IN, spent by the Murphey family after they traded the urban fast track in Chicago for the rural delights of Bean Blossom Farm. Novice (even naïve) when they first moved to the country in search of a simple life, Sallyann, Greg, and young daughter Charlotte (known as "Charley" and nicknamed "Bug"), come to love the results of the choice they've made, even the seemingly unremitting plain hard work that running a farm involves.
"11:00 A.M.: Time for some real work. Early frosts have been predicted, so we're frantically harvesting the fruits of the summer. Today there are 100 pounds of apples to be peeled, cored, and washed before they can be turned into applesauce, apple butter, apple pies, dried apple rings, and apple chutney.
It's a curious exercise, because we never used to eat any of the above. Our diet has definitely changed since we left the city. Gone are the days when we could rush out to the supermarket at eight o'clock at night or pick up a phone and order dinner in because we were "too tired" to cook. A trip to the grocery store here is a twelve-mile expedition, and it you want a Chinese meal, you'd better buy yourself a wok. Now we have to rely on what we have in stock – which is no hardship. We eat better than we ever did in town.
At the moment, there are huge piles of food stacked all over the house. Onions, garlic, spinach, beans, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, collard greens, marrows, melons, plums, cauliflower, red cabbages, potatoes, and twenty-six types of herbs are waiting to be put away for the winter. You can't move in the dining room and every closet is full of drying plants.
Fall is a bit like childbirth: We forget the pain until it happens again. For the rest of the year, I will remember the autumn harvest as a few gentle hours in the kitchen making jam. I'll be suffering from selective amnesia. The reality is more like a battlefield of scaled fingers, bruised feet, bad tempers, and aching backs. There are nights when Greg and I collapse, speechless, on the couch, too tired even to moan out loud.
It is unrelenting work on a large scale, which has to be fitted around life's normal daily demands. It will take about four days to clean, chop, and blanch a winter's worth of spinach, beans, greens, and cauliflower, in preparation for the freezer...."
In spite of the toil involved in putting by the winter's food, and the small tragedies centering around the loss of most of the first flock of chickens, the Murpheys realize that they made the right choice in moving from Chicago to Brown County. Bean Blossom Dreams (subtitled "A City Family's Search for a Simple Country Life") is a beautifully written account of their venture into farming and the close-knit society of rural life, with its quiet pleasures and triumphs. Be sure to read all about it.
Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.