Our Rural Roots

A Little Dirt Never Hurt

Image by Meredith Bernard

Of all the things we have to do and get done, one thing I always strive to accomplish is a nightly sit-down family meal. It’s our time to regroup, share old stories and new, and, all-in-all, just be together. Working cattle, planting corn, making hay and then on to harvest can threaten to put a fork in those plans; but those hiccups invariably dish up some of our best family memories.

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Recently, my 8-year-old girl looked up at me with a dirty face and even dirtier hands from the upside-down 5-gallon bucket she was sitting on next to the cattle chute. She was holding a bologna and cheese sandwich that I’d haphazardly thrown together in a rush to get out the door. With her toothy grin, she proceeded to tell me it was the best sandwich she’d ever eaten. This from the girl who also loves her mama’s chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and biscuits that I spend hours in the kitchen preparing--but this piecemeal sandwich on this particular day was the “best ever.” My husband and son chimed in agreeing, and I couldn’t help but agree, too.

There’s something about meals chute-side or on the tailgate of a truck sitting on the outskirts of a corn or hayfield that makes them better than most meals at a kitchen table with clean hands, folded napkins and real dishes. Maybe it’s the fact we are usually more tired and hungry than normal by the time lunch or supper break rolls around. Maybe it’s the fact I don’t usually make dessert and an oatmeal cream pie just hits the spot. I’m inclined to think it has more to do with where we are, what we’re doing and who we’re with.

Whatever the reason, it holds true, and I wouldn’t trade those gritty-sandwich, sweet-tea-from-a-mason jar, laughing-on-the-tailgate meals for any fancy one anywhere else. If memories are sweet, these are the sweetest.

Blogger Meredith Bernard would prefer lunching on a tailgate to a table any day on her North Carolina family farm. Follow her on Twitter at @thisfarmwife, and visit her website at thisfarmwife.com.

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