At The Farm Gate: Sunrise, Sunset Set Prominent Lures to Country Living

At the Farm Gate - Joanie Stiers.2

In her earliest drawings, our daughter frequently sketched the sunset and its brilliant hues, including the shades of pink and purple most don’t consider. She would compare anything fiery orange to the daily phenomenon. And since acquiring a cell phone in her teenage years, she takes photos of both the sunrise and sunset, often several times a week. She sends Snaps on Snapchat, pairing her photo with a country song for a poetic start or end to the day for her friends.

Our daughter keeps her eyes on the horizon, one of the wonders of farm and country life. Out here, we can watch the sun arrive and disappear at a horizon of trees and corn fields without obstruction. Seeing the sun touch the earth ranks one of the most common reasons for living out here. At every cloudless sunrise and sunset, we feel unbound and free in peaceful solitude. For me, the daily moments create a direct connection with Mother Nature that amplifies the praise that we vocalize in unison at Sunday worship: God is good. But I would understand if any eastbound drivers heading 20 miles to work around 6 a.m. may disagree.

The sun most often determines the length of the workday, outside of late harvest nights by tractor light. Hunters hunt from dawn to dusk. We start scouting fields at daybreak, expecting the sun’s length of exposure and heat to advance the crops. Farmers look to the horizon to monitor summer storms approach or drift away with their anxiety dependent on the farm’s needs.

In contrast, I enjoy visiting the Chicago suburbs, where my sister-in-law thoughtfully schedules experiences with new shops, parks and beautiful urban landscapes. I soak in doses of the city’s culture, energy and especially the delicious food with accessibility. But I miss the horizon and the indescribable liberty that brings. Returning home, I look most forward to reconnecting with it.

Ironically, a day this weekend started with a friend’s meme of a country sunrise on Facebook. By evening, a friend texted me a sunset photo taken near the farm. Among my favorite summer sunrises is when I pull eastward into the driveway of the home farm by 6 a.m. The sun’s rays cut through the trees of the pasture and accentuate the fog that hangs low in the river bottom of corn below the farmstead.

In paraphrasing Franklin Roosevelt, we hold to hope and belief in a better life beyond the horizon. I agree as long as we never overlook the good life within it.

About the author: Joanie Stiers farms with her family, growing corn, soybeans and hay and raising beef cattle, backyard chickens and farm kids in West-Central Illinois.


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