Transitioning from rural Iowa to the Twin Cities causes a time of reflection.
By Molly McFadden
Each Saturday throughout my childhood I woke up and crawled down the oak ladder of the bunk bed I shared with my younger brother. I put on my pink-striped overalls from Orscheln Farm and Home and ate two Eggos. After loading into my dad’s rusty red pickup, my family headed to The Farm.
Today, every time I cross the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge my mouth gapes open in awe of the beautiful skyline on either side of the Mississippi River. Buildings of opportunities line my peripheral. I know there are many cool people within those buildings. They have cool stories to tell, I’m sure. Stories of family, art, loss, gain and opportunity.
My stories aren’t that cool.
The Farm (noun): my grandparent’s farm inhabited by my grandma and Uncle Jon. Two rotting wooden barns. One tree fort. 10 rusty pieces of machinery in the pasture. Two donkeys. 300 sheep. My dad’s childhood home.
Home (noun): the place where one lives, especially as a member of a family.
Molly’s Home (noun): rural Iowa amid the cornstalks and bean fields.
College (noun): an educational institution providing one specialized higher education.
Bethel (noun): the college Molly attends in the Twin Cities.
The Twin Cities feel like static in my head. Or the sound of an orchestra tuning before its big performance. It’s an overture of anticipation. With so much to do and 3.69 million people, the cities scream opportunity. It excites me. I want to seize that opportunity. I want to drink as many cups of coffee from local shops as I can and play tetherball outside of Dogwood every chance that I get. I’ve seen six theater productions since being in The Cities and wandered through the Guthrie Theater’s gift shop at least eight times and yet it still excites me.
At The Farm, 15 minutes from Atlantic, Iowa, my dad parks his truck near the garden. Sunny, farm dog and certified sled chaser, runs to the car to greet us. I head inside to find grandma making lunch. I tell her about my dance classes and sneak a Ritz cracker cookie before heading outside to find the boys. I pick up a cat, one of eight fighting for the scraps on the porch, and run down to the shed. My uncle is finishing his morning chores, and as soon as he sees us, he gives us a job. I open the fence, then stand guard. My brother and dad create a barrier, guiding sheep toward the shed. My uncle rounds them in with the four-wheeler.
My phone alarm goes off, and I jump off my lofted bed. My white turtleneck and black overalls are already neatly laid out over my desk chair. Add my Doc Martens and flower headband and I’m ready to begin the day. I start my Keurig and slam a Clif Bar. With my coffee in a travel mug, I head out the door and rush to my first class of the day. No time to waste.
It’s time for lunch. The menu every Saturday on The Farm: roast, potatoes, green beans, salad and homemade bread. Lot’s of bread. For dessert: refrigerator pie.
It’s time for lunch. The menu every Wednesday at Bethel: taqueria.
I love the city. I don’t want to live anywhere else right now, but I also couldn’t imagine growing up in a place with a Target closer than an hour away.
I credit a lot of who I am to the lessons I learned on The Farm in Iowa. Driving tractors, catching tadpoles and gathering chicken eggs all taught me something, even if the sight of the Minneapolis skyline makes me forget it for a second. An extra piece of bread in the dining center reminds me of home and how thankful I am for the stories from the sheep farm.