It was a simple question
in the Prairie Primer curriculum.
Laura had seen a town for the first time.
Her pa drove the whole family in the wagon
seven miles to Pepin, WI, on the shores of Lake Pepin.
Laura was surprised women were hanging laundry out
“From your experience visiting other families,
name some different ways other
families do common household things.”
I was thinking Beka would talk about her friends and their chores.
I thought she might even complain a little about the jobs she has.
It was a perfect opportunity, after all , it was a school assignment.
“I can only think of one thing mom.
You know how we have one drawer in our fridge for fruit
and one for vegetables?
Your friend Janet doesn’t do that.”
Janet and I were best buddies in high school in North Dakota.
She married a farmer and stayed,
I married a farm hand who went into the computer industry
and moved the family to the West Coast.
Our lives are slightly different.
“Well, Janet keeps Diet Coke in her fruit drawer,
and Coke in her vegetable drawer.”
Well, yes, yes, she does.
Yes, that is a little different than the way thing are done around here.
And because Janet drinks Coke, she doesn’t drink coffee.
I drink coffee.
I need coffee.
I don’t think she realized how badly I needed coffee,
until I spent the night with her
and wasn’t very happy in the morning.
I tried to be nice, really I did.
I was ready to drive 13 miles into Langdon to buy a cup of coffee.
Janet gave me a different solution.
She drove me to the grain elevator in Nekoma, ND,
where the local farmers gather around the coffee pot
and talk about crops, trucks and the weather.
I paid $1 for Folgers that had been in
the aluminum pot since sun-up,
but, hey, it was coffee.
Coffee snobs can’t afford to be a snob
when they have a head-ache.
The farmers stared to see the city-slicker driving into “town”
to buy a cup of coffee,
but I’m pretty sure I gave them something new to talk about
for the next few days,
maybe even the next few weeks.
Next time I visited the farm,
Janet had a coffee pot
Just for guests like me.
I guess it was cheaper than driving to the elevator each day.
That same first coffee-less visit, Rebekah was a toddler.
She loved wandering around under the horses, into the dog house,
and anywhere her chubby legs could carry her.
As we make the trek back every year or two,
she only falls more and more in love with the farm life.
She’s actually pretty determined to marry a farmer.
Beka will just run her farm a little differently.
Not sure if she’ll do laundry on Monday,
but she won’t be hanging it from bushes to dry.
There will be fruit in her fruit drawer,
vegetables in her veggie drawer,
and the coffee pot will always be on.
As for the Coke and Diet Coke?
They’ll always be on hand just in case
her mom’s friend,
who’s become her friend,