I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.

——- Ani DiFranco

“You got tomatoes yet Barb?”

“Not yet, they’re all still green.”

“Yea… you n everyone else eh?”


A not at all uncomfortable silence follows as my mother fails to find a suitable subgect to change to. It’s not a problem of course. Eugene and his sister Molly have a fondness for my mother that transcends the small social stumbles to which she is occasionally prone.

She’s not from around here.

Rio is a small and very tight-nit farm community. The folks who were born and raised in and around this town of a little over one thousand, are generally friendly but it takes a while for an outsider like my mother to truly fit in. Mom has only lived here about eighteen years.

Today she did pretty well though. She’d remembered not to let slip that she did indeed have a few few ripe tomatoes from her garden. But only a few and they are long gone. We had BLTs made with them for lunch yesterday and oh were they sweet!

Nothing like ripe, garden-fresh tomatoes.

In a town like Rio, you don’t say you have tomatoes unless you have enough to share with your neighbors. Especially neighbors like Eugene and Molly. Mom has been getting her eggs from their farm (they live just a few miles from my sister and her husband) for a long time and they charge exactly $1 for a dozen.

Nothing like nice big, farm-fresh eggs.

Mom and I get out of the car and walk through my sister’s garage. Four boxes of assorted veggies from her garden are on the floor. There are huge heads of cabbage, a few large cucumbers and a zucchini. No squash this time. All four boxes will come back filled with different foodstuffs produced by the family friend at the farm where these are heading. Perhaps they will contain meat, cheese or some assortment of different veggies. I have no idea what, but rest assured it will be good and fresh.

Nothing like friendly farm families, swapping fresh food.

Tonight Mom and all of her children are together for dinner for the first time since Dad passed… over eight years ago. The food is all farm-fresh and so is the conversation. Especially once Stacy’s husband joins us. John is a good man, and he’s done very well by my sister, but he has many opinions I find challenging to say the least.

As a family, we all have different opinions of course and we all have our respective challenges in dealing with each other. And like countless others, our family history has been rife with conflict, pain and division that has only been able to be diluted by distance and time. But time and a dogged determination by a few of us, coupled with some noble acquiescence by the rest… has led us here.

Here and now, our far from perfect family eat and drink and “shoot the shit” (while Clark occasionally shoots a rabbit or two so Stacy’s garden might get some respite from their ravaging) and we dare discuss that which has devided us. That which still disturbs us, challenges us and demands that we be “on our best behavior” while still showing up as our authentic selves.

We part company for the evening, feeling so very full. Filled with all that farm-freash food and with all those family-filled feelings. Tomorrow the feelings will continue to be expressed. The family will continue to find ways to deepen our connection and the food will continue to be fine… and farm-fresh.

Nothing like family-fresh fondness for farm life and…