Keep up the banter
As I get older, and maybe due to our simple life here on farm, I realise it's the little things in life that create happiness. Little things, like even just a wave and a smile. Or chewing the fat with someone and making light of the challenging things in life.
When I used to go to a farmer's market down in the city, there were 4 one-lane bridges on my route, and there were signs to indicate which vehicle gave way to the other. But sometimes the person driving over the bridge would wave out with a big grin to say thanks to me for giving way. They didn't have to, it was the rules. But it totally put a smile on my dial.
Earlier this year after one of the terrible storms, Daryn and Joe went out with the chainsaw to cut a big tree away from the road. They weren't really that excited about doing it, they knew it was going to be a big job. But once they were out at the roadside working, locals were driving by, many waving out, most calling out versions of "that's a cussing big tree". It ended up being a bit of a laugh that everyone was yelling out similar things and I think that made the job seem not so bad.
When I was very little, Mum and Dad were market gardeners and worked alongside my Grandparents. I remember the big shed where all the picked tomatoes would come in; to be sorted, boxed and then sold to customers. The shop was at the front of the shed, and people would pull in off the road to buy 'Penny's tomatoes'. I remember some things about the shop, like talking to customers, the sound of the old till ringing up and its drawer opening and shutting. We drew funny faces on the odd shaped tomatoes and put them on top of the till to entertain customers. I don't remember this next bit, but I've been told recently that my Grandpa's favourite thing to do was to stand out the front with a broom, and spend quite a lot of his day chatting to customers. I wonder if the others thought he was getting out of work. But I reckon the customers would have enjoyed the banter, sharing the good and bad of their lives and maybe it even encouraged them to pull in if they saw him as they drove by.
One of our local customers arrived here on the farm early one morning to pick up her vege order. She relayed a funny account of her morning so far. She'd slept late and leapt out of bed, hastily grabbing her car keys and rushing her kids to the bus stop but was too late and they missed the bus. She had to take them all the way to school in town. I found the most amusing part of the story when she laughed that it was such a waste of a trip to town. She was dressed in what she'd slept in so couldn't do any shopping or meet up with her mum for a coffee. Instead of being grumpy about it, she made a funny story out of it and entertained me. It was a good start to my day!
The farmer's market is always a good place to have a bit of a yarn. I wonder if that's partly the reason farmer's markets were so important in the past. Isolated farmers might not have been off farm during the week. The market would give them an opportunity to earn a living, but also to have a good catch up with others, and maybe for sharing and solving problems.
I do miss going to the market, chatting to customers and getting nice complements about our veges. I stay home on Saturdays to finish the gardening tasks so we can have Sundays off and get off the farm if we feel like it.
One Saturday I heard the phone rang inside the house and ran to answer. It was a woman who sounded a little panicked. She said she had bought some produce from Daryn at the market and left it with him to pick up later. But now she was going to be late picking it up. Could she have his mobile number? I gave her the number. She was rushed and a bit breathless but before she hung up, she blurted out "oh I really enjoy reading your stories, you really should keep writing, oh and we love eating your veges too!"
Well, that just made my day. Actually, it probably made my week and that got me thinking. It doesn't take much time or effort or money to make someone's day. I'd realised that you can make someone's day simply. It only took a second for her to say that, but it meant so much to me.
Later that same day, we met up with a group of friends for a late lunch. I was telling a friend about the phone call. And we both agreed that it was often the little things in life that can make someone's day. She asked me if I had heard of the story of the Pikes Place Fish Market in Seattle. She told me the story of how they had invented ways to have fun in their workplace and make it a point to make someone's day, every day. The fun part about it is that they entertain customers by putting on a bit of a show of throwing fish at each other. I don't think Daryn and I'll start throwing lettuces at each other but I came home and read about the fish market - it's a great story.
So often in our life here on our little farm stuff goes wrong. That old film-saying of 'never work with children or animals' could be changed to a farm-saying of 'never work with farm machinery or animals'. There are always neighbour's bulls busting through a fence to romance the heifers, a tractor getting stuck in a ditch, baby animals that need a hand to survive the first few days, or a power cut threatening the survival of the coriander and lettuces. But once you share the problem with a neighbour the problem is half solved. And there's often a bonus ... you might learn a bit of the local history while you and the neighbour are herding the bull home. Or a dinner cooked for you after you help to tow the tractor out. Or just a credit in the neighbourhood good deed bank to draw on later when stuff goes wrong.
Or simply have the pressure taken off by being able to find the funny side during a good yarn.