Anna had time off from her job with the National FFA Organization for the week leading up to the fourth of July, so we decided to make a family trip out of it. Callie took the bus from New York City and Seth flew in from Charleston, South Carolina, and we all rendezvoused in Washington DC. Yes, it was a “pinch me” experience for this mom.
We took a road trip that started in Maryland at my sister’s home on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Every time I visit I notice the cross-stitched sign on her wall, “East or West, Home is Best.” We kayaked on West River, swam in Donna’s pool and watched for fireflies flashing in her yard. She has a majestic magnolia tree in bloom and I marveled at its milky-white waxy flowers. Magnolias and fireflies – how many romantic lines have been written about these two species?
Next we traveled to Brooklyn (with me driving - what!) and stayed in Callie’s apartment. It was warm enough for Mark to compare us to rotisseried chickens by morning. The next day we toured the nation’s largest rooftop commercial garden, BK Grange. They turn a profit every year and benefit the city by providing “green space” which helps slow run-off during heavy rains.
From there we drove to upstate New York which lived up to its storied reputation, rolling emerald hills dotted with historic red and white barns and well-kept homesteads. Our destination was Foxfield Farm, the dairy and home of the Quick family where Seth spent time during his year as a national FFA officer. We watched the Quick brothers milk one morning. Now fiftyish, they’ve worked and milked together since their youth. There is a rhythmic beauty to the twice daily ritual, the swish-swish of milk pumping into the bulk tank, the cows at feed waiting their turn at the milker, the hands of the human caretakers moving from cow to cow. Milking starts at 4:00 a.m. and is repeated each afternoon.
Their family farm is like ours in that we’ve raised good kids with solid values that come from living on the land and caring for animals. Ironically, those values are coveted in the outside world and our kids have a plethora of career options to explore. Can the farm compete for their future? Both of our sons look to return home someday, but how will our businesses change as we transition to the next generation?
We ended our trip in DC on the fourth of July. We started with a patriotic concert at the National Cathedral, squished through the rain following a short visit to the Library of Congress, and finished up with a picnic on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial to await the fireworks on the Potomac. There were twelve of us in our party and we won’t soon forget Leah, Seth’s girlfriend, leading us in the Star Spangled Banner.
Looking back to our first day of the trip, before we got our travel legs under us, we were walking through the airport (was it Houston?) and I said to Mark, “it’s hard to leave home.” He wholeheartedly agreed. It’s hard to get ready to leave and it’s hard to feel comfortable once you’re gone, but traveling is a gift you give yourself. The gift of insight and appreciation for this vast and varied world of ours.
|BK Grange rooftop garden|
|beautiful upstate New York|
|the barn has been around awhile|
|heading back out to pasture after milking|
|waiting for fireworks on the steps of Jefferson Memorial|