As a young child living in Portland in the 1960s, I would be beyond excited when my parents would plan a summer weekend excursion with my brother and me to our great-aunt and great-uncle’s rural farm in Madison. After a nearly two-hour drive, we would finally pull up to the circular, dirt driveway of Uncle Percy’s and Aunt Gertrude’s farm.

As soon as my dad put the car in park, my younger brother would immediately bolt from the back seat straight toward the barn that housed the large tractor. He just couldn’t wait to crawl up into the seat and pretend he was driving through the pastures of the vast farmland. For me, I would be so excited to give a brief hello and hug to our great-aunt and -uncle, then my attention immediately turned to the barn and chicken coop so I could feed and play with all of the animals.

When our weekend visit was prior to haying season, we were made aware, in no uncertain terms, that we were not allowed to randomly run through the hayfields and trample it all down. We could venture out to the fields only if we walked the same one path to minimize flattening of the hay.

Aunt Gertrude made all our meals from scratch – they were simply delicious! She would adorn the table with beautiful old dishes. Served on them would be homemade biscuits with fruits and vegetables from their garden. It was the typical “from farm to table” meal. In the early morning, we would be awakened by the chipper rooster signaling it was time to begin a new day and yes, treated to a beautifully set table for yet another delicious, homemade meal!

A distinct feature of this homestead that my brother found to be particularly intriguing were the vintage potty pots that were discreetly kept under each of the beds in the bedrooms even though there was a full functioning bathroom in the house!

It was an annual tradition, usually with our cousins, to visit our aunt and uncle for numerous summer weekends growing up. This was a fun-filled, joyous escape from the bustle of city living for all of us! To this day, some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of the fun weekends spent in Madison. I felt fortunate and grateful as a city kid to have experienced a different way of life that I would have otherwise never known.

As I have grown older, I have come to understand what it takes to maintain a successful, working farm. I developed a deep admiration for all of my great-aunt’s and -uncle’s hard work. Rural life unquestionably is not an easy life, but I would encourage anyone to experience a little snippet of rural living so you may acquire a clearer understanding of the dedication and hard work that goes into it. Who knows? You may cultivate a more meaningful appreciation and subsequent fondness for the rural way of life.

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