Wednesday, April 15, 2015




Country Roads Lead to All Kinds of Places 

The cover of our April Heartwarming, “The Long Road Home,” (written with Patricia Rosemoor) shows the hero and heroine sitting on some hay in the Midwestern countryside.  I’ve had plenty of experience with hay myself, since I grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa.  Though I did little as far as farming, save gathering eggs a few times and bringing the cows in for the afternoon milking, the years of fresh air and open land made a lasting impression on my psyche.

I grew up in non-corporate farming days when my family actually produced most of the food we ate:  fresh milk and cream, vegetables from the garden, fresh eggs, and meat from hogs and cattle we raised ourselves.

Growing up on a farm meant seeing the sky stretch from horizon to horizon and being able to yell all I wanted without bothering anyone.  It also meant I could play out in the barn, though I have to say that hay is really uncomfortable when it gets inside your t-shirt. 
 

 
Our barn was the big, old-fashioned, red kind (here’s an old photo) with a hay mow above and stanchions on one side of the lower floor to milk six to eight Holstein or Brown Swiss cows, as well as an enclosure on the opposite side for hogs.  I never learned to milk a cow all that well but I do remember being told to put “kickers” or hobbles on a cow before you try to milk her if you don’t want to be kicked into the barn wall.  I also remember being swiped in the face over and over by a cow’s annoyed tail. 
I don’t know why I wasn’t encouraged to learn to do more, such as plowing fields or baling hay.  Either my parents didn’t believe these tasks were suitable for a girl or they figured I’d be doing something other than farming when I grew up.
 
My dad on hay wagon


Maybe my parents knew I was a city person born in a country environment, a self-description I gave for many years.  Maybe they sensed farm work wasn’t what I was eventually going to do.  In my last years of high school, they encouraged me to go to college and learn to do something with my mind.  They were proud when I published my first book more than thirty years ago.  They would be proud now that I’m publishing another.  (My mother passed in 2008 and my father in 1990.)
My parents and grandparents would also enjoy the fact that I use so much of my country experience in our Heartwarming Romances.  If I’m not caught up on the newest breeds of stock cattle and feed, at least I know terminology and approximately what to look for.  I haven’t made cheese, a topic in “The Long Road Home” in which the heroine owns a cheese shop, but I have actually churned butter.  My maternal grandmother made sure I had that experience and loaned me her churn like the one pictured.  If you’ve ever made butter, you know it takes long enough to make your arm tired!
Old butter churn

In my present life, I’ve realized I still love open spaces and wide skies.  It has made a big difference for me to live in a Chicago building that backs up to a big park and Lake Michigan.  The expanse of water is as much a wilderness as rolling hills and woods.  I am now not only a city person who was raised in the country but a country person who has adapted to the city.  I honor both sides of my personality, just like many of the characters in Lynn Patrick books.
We all have our roads to follow – happy travels!

 
 
 
 
 

15 comments:

  1. Aww... the past is something to hold on to! I really like that barn picture with your dad.

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  2. Your childhood sounds idyllic. Being a county girl at heart, reading your post made me smile. Congratulations for the release of THE LONG ROAD HOME!

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  3. Nice pictures. Gave me a glimpse into the world of farming. I'm just the opposite, born and raised in the city, but a country girl at heart.

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  4. I, too, grew up a country girl. A lot of nostalgia in reading your post. I still like elements of country life. Less traffic. Clean air. But there are things I don't miss. We didn't have central heat and I hated stacking wood and hauling it in to burn over the winters. I liked the animals and the gardens. I still have a hard time liking some of the produce we buy in grocery stores today. Looking forward to your book.

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    1. Yeah, the produce, meat, and dairy products are not the same once you've tasted them directly from the farm. However, a "salad" for me growing up was some lettuce, a slice of tomato, and French dressing. I never got to enjoy a French, Italian, or Greek salad until I moved to the city.

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  5. In Oregon our apartment bordered on a farm, and our Siberian Husky and I would watch the lambs cavorting in the field only a few feet from our window. But I'm still a city girl at heart.

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  6. Lovely post! I am definitely a country girl. In my early twenties I did a stint working in downtown Portland (OR) because I thought city life might be fun. It was a great experience in that I learned that it definitely was not for me. Love the photo of your barn!

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  7. I live in the Midwest as well. I have probably spent way too much time wondering about the difference between the square-ish hay bales and those big rolled up ones!

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    1. The big rolls of hay are more efficient, my brother-in-law tells me, who still owns a farm.

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  8. I love this post, Lynn! I think your title is fabulous and so is the cover. Just love it all and I know I will love the book. I didn't grow up on a farm, but I did grow up in farmland. All around us are so many farms and one of my favorite past times is driving through the farm areas during all the seasons and watching the crops grow. When the corn on either side of a country road is so high in the fall, it feels like there are walls of green all around. I have that sense of living in an abundant, blessed world. I am so emotional that I get teary eyed and covered with chills. So, thank you Lynn for sharing your wonderful photos with us.

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  9. Nice post Lynn. My husband grew up on an orchard, and I come from a big industrial city in the East. Our perfect solution is small-town life. Close enough to town that I can walk anywhere, but still beautiful vistas everywhere you look. Love your old photos! How nice that your country life serves the author who really prefers the city by providing characters and inspiration. Love the cover and the story sounds like fun.

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  10. Love your post and the great pictures. So nostalgic. I grew up in a mid-sized town but spending time each summer at a friend's aunt's farm was a great adventure. On eleven acres in southern Ohio, the family grew their own fruit and vegetables and raised pigs, cows, and chickens. We teenage girls had to slop pigs and gather eggs (ugh). Those memories and those of canning corn and beans are still among my best ones. I recently made butter in my electric mixer--much easier and more fun than using a butter churn! Congrats on the new book.

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  11. I grew up on the outskirts of Memphis (the area is in the heart of Memphis now lol) and have churned butter and helped with killing hogs (mostly watched) and gathered a few eggs.

    Love your cover and can't wait to read it.

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  12. I'm a country girl and am only now reaching the conclusion that small town would be okay for us. Convenience, which I've never had so never particularly missed, has become something I'd kind of like to have. I love the excitement and diversity of cities, but am claustrophobic within their confines pretty quickly.

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  13. I love your post and pics, Lynn! I am certainly a country girl. I enjoy visiting the city, but love coming home to the country!

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