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The Urban-Rural Divide

(post, Linda Colwell)

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I have a young understudy whose name is Julia. She is my childhood friend's daughter. She is finishing her senior year in high school and has to do an internship of four forty hour weeks. I few months ago Julia asked me if I had ideas for a sustainable agriculture and/or bakery internship for her. I gave it some thought and delivered her a handful of options. #5 was to shadow my daily life for the month- Oh the pluck! Oh the nerve! Oh selfish and frisky me! I wanted time with this lovely young woman eager for knowledge about as much as I crave a perfect cocktail and I found the golden ticket, I won the lottery, I hit the jackpot, I got Julia. 

Julia and I spend about three eight hour days together and the other two days she is at a farmers market or on an educational farm. I am not sure who is learning and enjoying the project more. I love to hear myself talk second only to hearing Julia talk about what she is seeing, smelling, tasting and learning. Yesterday she said she thinks fennel tastes like jumping in cool water on a hot summer day. She touches everything then smells her hands; lemon verbena, cardamom, tomato plants, corn, soil and food. I am painfully aware that I can't smell like her anymore- too used and too old. Now I slowly adjust, I am the seamstress of her experience. 

We spend two days a week on a 144 acre farm in Gaston Oregon and I can't decide if we work hard or not. Hoeing two 300 foot rows of newbie raspberry canes in 85 degrees isn't a piece of cake but eating sorrel soup, bread and butter and loganberry water for lunch is. Kneeling before a rain drenched alter of plastic sheeting ready to receive 150 melon transplants into the dense Oregon soil isn't a picnic but eating sauerkraut soup with pork and leek bratwurst and mustard is. Building a supplemental food and agriculture curriculum can be wrought with challenges and deliberations but walking through the neighborhood noshing on edible flowers and weeds and talking botanical families is not. And then just simply making lunch from the findings in my fridge and talking about it is slowing my thoughts and my life to a reasonable rural-pace. "All because of Julia I say" as I wring my heart to understand why her appreciation for this attention to detail is in full bloom while others eat pizza up the boulevard. 

And this isn't, really it isn't about me. The muscles in my body are competing with the muscle between my ears for first place. It is a continuous and heavy volley of rural Vs. urban ammo. Don't make me dissect it, trust me. Large oceanic skies and waving fields of grasses Vs. noisy crowded masses distracted by competing messages. A deep ancient and yet familiar movement of past harvest, present work and future dreams Vs. chaos. It is a tremendous shock to re-enter the urban growth boundary let alone the urban world awareness. Never did I think that Julia's journey would so fire mine. And when the fire gets really hot I start to cook.