In the fall of 2013, my older sister and her husband (Tristan and Aaron) moved to New Jersey. They were both born and raised in Texas. Not only do they take pride in Texas, as Texans do, but they love the land, culture, and food. Who doesn't? Their move was hard for everyone.
Then in Spring of 2014 Paige and I were studying in England when we got the info that our dad had landed an incredible job, which we are thankful for, but with the good came the sad. The place where our family congregated—where we grew up learning about snakes, coyotes, and horses, fixing fences, shooting guns, playing in the woods, and staking an identity from childhood to adulthood as we learned the importance of family comes first; this place where heartbreak and mending happened, a place of growth and later in life a place of quiet respite where steak was grilled, cigars were smoked, porch sitting was sat, and the birds and frogs were heard; this place where cows and goats found our front yard, where all the neighborhood dogs assembled, where old trails, creeks, interesting mushrooms, and deer were spotted on our long hikes on our land; this place where our mother sat outside with us after exploring the woods to tell us which birds were singing in the trees, the place where our father saddled up horses so we could ride or drove his car down country roads as we ran so he could make sure we were safe; this place where loved pets died but were also born and the place where I sat on the sidewalk on summer nights watching the Texas stars shine bright; this place where our roots became intertwined with the landscape that reflected our hearts and identities because this place was our comfort, our stories, and our home.....
This place was now up for sale.
We all imagined that this place would be ours forever. How could it be someone else's? We built it. We tied ourselves to it through sweat, tears, and passion. How could something that is so reflected in your heart suddenly not be yours? These are thoughts that fleeted in and out of our minds as we kept our heads high and optimistically looked forward.
In Summer 2014 Paige and I stayed at the farm when we could. Sometimes, if I think too much about it, I kick myself for not visiting more often. Life. ugh. But I decided to take as many photographs as I could as a sort of therapy and way to hold onto our life there. We would have these photos forever. I stopped taking photos after a few days because I didn't like any of the photos. I hated everything I was getting.
And you know what's crazy?? The farm at 6:30 am to 7:00 am on a summer morning is the prettiest place on this planet. The smolder of early sunrises, the sunshine backlit against the yellow wildflowers in the pastures, horses kicking up dust that created a golden cloud in the air, dew on grass blades that shined like little crystals, and the sweet smell of fresh farm air. Oh, there's nothing better. That fresh, damp, cool morning air smelled of sweet hay, luscious grass, and horse manure. That's right. Horse manure. When you grow up on a farm there's nothing better than that farm smell. Judge me now but when nature mixes together like that before the summer heat boils the smell away it's better than any scentsy you'll ever buy. The birds are already awake and the horses snort and kick the ground letting you know of their hunger. The sounds, smells, sights. You take it all in on an early morning and feel so at peace. And you know what? I only took a few crappy iPhone photos of it all. It was too early and the horses were impatient blah blah blah. I didn't grab my DSLR during those mornings to photograph them.
The photographs below are just a few little things here and there. You'll see Pudge and Bella playing, the dogs doing what farm dogs do best--being lazy, 2 lawn chairs in front of the horse trailer which was the designated cigar smoking spot, horses being goofy, Paige playing with the dogs, the barn, our red swing, and the shed where we held the horse food. Daily activities on the farm....that's all...but I find such beauty in the mundane and I hope that translates in these photographs. I wish I had taken more photographs, especially over a long period of time, but at least I have these. This spring I dug them up and had the heart to edit them and soon grew to love them instead of hate them.
Now the farm is sold and we have a new farm in Kentucky where my parents' roots are from. We miss Texas and the Texas farm but we are optimistically looking forward to building a new farm life in Kentucky where my grandparents and cousins live.
Below is an excerpt from the song lyrics that can play while you scroll through the photographs. I chose this song because it feels like it was written for my family's story. My parents moved to Texas from Kentucky as young adults, building a new life under the Texas sky. Now my dad, older sister, and I aren't living in Texas anymore even though it will always feel like home. Excuse me while I go cry now.
I'll be somewhere down in Texas
If you're lookin' for me
Drinkin' in that great wide open
Soakin' up the summer breeze
Kickin' back and settled in with my family
I'll be somewhere down in Texas
If you're lookin' for me
That's where I got started
Where I was born and bred
It's a fire inside of me
I couldn't have imagined
This Texas highway led
Far beyond my wildest dreams
But I'll turn out the lights tonight
And say goodnight, but not goodbye
Thanks George Strait for making me cry. You totally get it. If you don't know then the title of my blog post is from another George Strait song so go listen to it just to appreciate the beauty of Texas.
Also, give your family, or whoever you consider your family, thanks and love today. There's nothing like the bond of family ties.