A Week in the Country

Our trip to the farm last week was so special, and I want to share a little bit of it with you, from wonderful meals to wide expanses of sky, from giant tractors to frogs hopping through the grass, from the lovely town square to the indulgent luxury of reading a book in the shade all afternoon. It was heavenly.

The first day we were there, it rained most of the afternoon, so we spent a relaxed day inside. Eric’s mom made us these special treats: strawberry crepes. I have been hearing about these, a favorite from Eric’s childhood, for a long time, and I am so glad I got to try them. They were so delicious!

By the next day, the weather had cleared up enough for us to go exploring. I am always really happy to see the tractors, and I will never cease to be impressed by wheels that are as tall as I am!

Later in the week, we went to visit some dear friends of the family, and we got to meet their new tractor. I felt very small! There are some rather hilarious videos of me laugh/shrieking while being taken for a ride in this tractor, but I’ll spare you!

Another big highlight of the farm for me is that there are animals everywhere: deer and owls and geese and frogs! Frogs hold a special place in my heart, and I always look out for them when we’re at the farm, since they don’t usually hop up to my doorstep in Southern California. Eric’s dad found this little tree frog hanging out on the side of the house, and he handed him to me to hold. This is definitely my typical “I am holding a frog!” face, and I am beginning to think it gives my jaw quite a lot of exercise!

Wouldn’t this little guy make you smile too?

…and there are animals of other kinds too. The night we arrived, Eric’s dad showed me this little nest in the corner of a water tank. It was full of tiny baby robins, including one that hadn’t hatched yet! I was planning to get back out and photograph the nest a few days later, but when we went outside, we found…a big black snake with several baby robin-shaped bulges! Bummer! But everyone has to eat lunch, I suppose.

Soon after we saw this sad scene, Eric found me this pretty toad over by the grain bins, and then I was happy again. :)

Mid-week we headed into town to visit the preschool where Eric’s mom volunteers. Eric told the kids a bit about the stars and the planets, and I taught them Russian animal noises. They laughed at every single one of them, and it was so much fun. In the afternoon, we had time to stroll through the town square, which I hadn’t realized is part of the old Route 66. This is the kind of thing that makes me excited!

I haven’t been to the square in three years, but I don’t remember these cute painted planters being there. I thought the one with the distance to LA was very apropos!

They even had a pretty map of the route on the side! A map, forsooth! I hereby add it to my collection.

One of my favorite places in town in Market on the Square, which sells all locally made goods from Illinois. I love that anything you pick up has a tag telling you the name of the artist and where they are from.

We had so much fun poking through these treasures, and we brought home a reusable grocery bag made of an old feed sack. We’ll be giving new meaning to the phrase “farm to table!”

I love that this shop exists, and I love that they are supporting the awesomely talented people in the community. Eric’s mom told me that they have new stock in all the time. I wish I could be there to see it all.

No trip to the farm would be complete without a spin on the lake in the rowboat. A girl in a rowboat (especially a girl in a rowboat who is not doing any of the rowing) is a happy girl.

I loved the bright colors of the sky and the field, and the little chain of circles left by the oar.

On one of our last nights in town, we went out to Eric’s grandfather’s farm for dinner with the extended family. It was great to see everyone (especially the adorable little ones!) and to have a nice evening outside after dinner. Eric’s grandfather has this really impressive garden, which I named Garden of Dreams. I was trying to describe it to my mom, and I said, “Mom! It was like a whole produce section just rising up out of the ground!” It inspired me to garden my little kitchen herbs with more fervor. (I consider it a  minor miracle that all of my plants were still more or less alive when we got back, and I do not take this miracle for granted!)

When we got home that night, I curled up with my addictive book (Ian Frazier‘s Travels in Siberia: ever so highly recommended!) while Eric headed out with the tripod to take some shots of the sky. When he came back in, he showed me this one, and my heart melted all over again. Every time I think I could not possibly love him any more (read: pretty much every day), he does something like this. It’s a a very good problem to have. It was a beautiful end to a truly beautiful week. Can’t wait to go back again!

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