For weeks now I’ve been trying to write this piece. And, for weeks now I’ve failed. It’s one of those projects where I honestly wish I still did all my writing with pen and paper so I could crumple up all those sad attempts and make a wild pitch at the trash can. Although that might simply serve as one more frustration, the only thing more elusive than finding the words for this post is my ability to make a neat hook-shot into the wastebasket.
In my attempts to figure out how to approach this writing, somebody suggested that I simply say, “I love you all, good-bye.”
Oh…ewww….no, no, no…that’s just too flat, too sad, too final…too well, suicidal. Oh gosh, I don’t want anyone to get the idea we’re ending it all. Even though I am going to tell you about an end. Truth be told, I think there was a “thank you” somewhere in the original suggestion, but my heart heard only the finality, making the writing far more difficult. I really don't do well with change, with finality, with any sort of end.
I am supposed to come up with some words…words to tell our customers that we’re “retiring”, that we’re not going to do the Market anymore, that we’re not going to have any produce or eggs or meat for them during the winter or next spring, or ever…and I don’t know how to do it.
Okay. That sounds silly.
Surely, I know how to write some words to convey a thought. (I mean, I want to write a book for goodness' sake!)
This is different. This is a big deal. It’s like writing a eulogy, although we don’t have the finality of death. And, it’s not just a letter of resignation, because we aren’t moving onto some adventure, I’m not even sure how this next part of our lives will look. It sounds vague and random and not at all well-thought out.
I certainly cannot just say “I’m tired and don’t want to do this anymore, grow your own damn food.” Not only is that rude, but it isn’t really true. And I can’t honestly say that we’re “retiring” because that conjures thoughts of a move to a house at the seaside, a grand trip of a lifetime or at the very least a cruise (and quite honestly, none of those are appealing and that's pretty much how I envision hell…but, that’s another story) and, I don’t want anyone to imagine that we’re planning on sitting around watching Netflix, (while I might) or going on great adventures (which I know we will not), or any of the other things that “old people” are supposed to do.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe I am afraid to face the fact that I am old? Maybe. But, what do I do with that? Even the possibility that I have something else to sort through is definitely NOT helping this project.
So, back to the keyboard…
More than twenty years ago, we found ourselves starting life anew, struggling to put ourselves back together after what was, without a doubt, the most horrifying and hurtful experience of our lives. The Market offered a chance to put that all behind us, to re-invent ourselves and provide for our family. But, that first Saturday morning was a scary thing, offering our paltry wares to an unknown crowd. Talk about feeling vulnerable! Who knew what that so many successful Saturday Markets would follow? Who would have thought that we would find our niche? Many of you know the story so I won’t re-visit it here. (besides, I don’t want to totally give away my book project)
Joining the farmers’ market seemed the best solution for our family at the time. It required little cash for start-up and the possibilities for return on our investment seemed limitless. It was an opportunity of a lifetime offering both potential income and creative outlet. (and some seriously delicious food) We were certain we could eke a living from our small acreage if we all pulled together.
And, we did, we have…we do.
The Farmers’ Market quickly became the central force in our lives. Actually, it became our lives…taking over every waking moment at times. We took that opportunity and ran with it, proving that you can indeed make a living as Farmers’ Market vendors.
There are no words to describe what the Market has come to mean to us. Or at least I haven’t found them…and Lord knows I’ve tried. (ever read the farm blog? There are LOTS of words there! www.homesteadhillfarm.com )
But time moves on. Things change.
And, it’s time for us to change as well. While I know the time has come, we’re not just moving on, in some ways we are giving up our identity. Who are we without this definition? Oddly, despite the fact that I (we) never intended to become Market vendors, it certainly wasn’t a lifelong dream to grow food and personally, I never thought I was in the least well-suited to the job, this has not been an easy decision to make. Our very identities are being revised and re-invented. No easy task, I can assure you.
But, after 22 years at the Saturday Staunton Farmers’ Market and 10 years of our special Winter sales, we are DONE. Finished. Letting go. Moving on. Ready to bid this chapter of Life a fond farewell…
With that final Market day of the 2019 season, it will be time to find out who we are without the Market as a backdrop. Re-invent ourselves on our own terms. Forge our new identity.
And, while it would be poetic (and perhaps expected) to say that we are riding into the sunset or heading for the islands…we’re just not that exciting. And, the hill remains our home.
Tom will be managing the market for one more year while he hopes to train someone else to take over (anybody want a thankless job that doesn’t pay very well?) and, I’m going to devote my time to writing that book I’ve been talking about for far too long (and quite possibly working on my hook-shot with all the ill-fated attempts) And, there is a lambchop crop for 2020 in the works…so, it’s not like we’ll be doing a lot of frontporch sittin’ any time soon…
We want to take this opportunity to THANK YOU, our market customer-friends, from the bottom of our hearts…
You made this all possible…and in the process y'all taught us more than anyone could imagine, tickled our funnybones when we truly needed a smile, and so doing touched our very souls.
I---WE---love you all, good-bye.
P.S. Keep in touch.