Back to the beginning. A long summer holiday, I met a farmer and fell in love.
I was 16 years old when I completed year 12. I finished the school year with no intention of studying in the future. I was looking forward to the summer. My parents and my younger sister and brother had just moved from our family owned pear orchard in the Adelaide Hills to a little coastal town on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. My family and I had been holidaying at this spot for 6 years, so I knew the place well. It was an isolated little place, with farming families who had lived there for generations. The population was less than 100 people. It had a town hall, a primary school, a cricket oval, a croquet court and 2 little shops. It was surrounded by farming land and kilometres of untouched, stunning beaches. I loved it.
I planned on staying with mum and dad for the whole of summer, about eight weeks, so I could hang out with my friends and family and decide what my future held. The summer stretched out luxuriously in front of me. I was excited.
Looking back, that summer was the best time of my life. It was hot and sunny every day. (That is what I remember). I had no responsibilities as my dad and mum were looking after me, with mum cooking and washing my clothes. I didn’t have to go to work, school was done. I had a car to drive. There were plenty of friends to hang out with and adventures to be had. My hardest decision each day was which beach had the best surf.
I had adopted my dad’s beat up old blue 1970 XY Ford station wagon. It was solid, never missed a beat with three on the tree and a good sound system. I would drive the dirt roads with my windows down and music up loud. Sometimes my little sister was riding shotgun. I was loving life. When I look back now I like to think I knew how lucky I was and that I appreciated the sheer freedom, but I probably didn’t.
It was on one of my many trips from the beach to the shop to get food that I saw this cute guy. He was standing by a gate in a paddock. I clearly remember what he was wearing. He had a blue and white striped jumper, very short shorts and work boots. Very interesting. I thought I knew all the locals but hadn’t seen this guy around. For a few days afterwards I drove past that paddock more times than I needed hoping to catch another glimpse of him but it was not to be. I really wanted to know who he was. I knew a few people in the area but I was embarrassed to ask anyone. There are no secrets in a small country town and I didn’t want everyone knowing I was interested in a boy. I did eventually ask. After that it wasn’t long before I had everyone of my friends telling me stories about the “cute farmer boy” who was home to live and work the farm with his dad and brother. For the last four years he had been at boarding school in the city. He was cute and I was curious.
So, yes, eventually the ‘cute farmer boy’ and I did get together. His neighbour and best friend from primary school told him I liked him and then he helped organise us to meet each other. Yep, the good old days. It was hard work trying to find out if you liked each other in the days of no mobile phones. You couldn’t message to meet up or chat on snapchat. You had to sit in your living room or kitchen to use the phone, which was firmly attached to the wall. You got to talk to your boy friend in front of all the family. The ‘cute farmer boy’ had to come to my house and meet my parents so that he could drive me to the next town to see a movie in the town hall.
We dated, yes very old fashioned. We talked on the phone for hours, yes very old fashioned and yes the ‘cute farmer boy’ was eventually, officially, my boyfriend. I clearly remember being at a party at his house when his parents were away. He gave me a ‘beer bottle top’ ring. We were in his kitchen when he put it on my finger. It was kind of awkward but cute. We were only 17, both too young to be thinking of anything serious, but looking back I think we both knew. The intention was there. I still have that bottle top. My ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ probably doesn’t even remember it, but I do.
Thinking about that summer I know I was very fortunate to have my “summer holiday”. My parents weren’t rich enough to support me long term, but seemed happy enough to look after me for a while. I made my bed and helped mum out around the house but I wasn’t pressured to get a job, to play any sport, to volunteer or to study. I felt no judgement. I felt like I was allowed to have the last 8 weeks of my childhood without any expectations. It was a summer of freedom and joy.
Unlike the children of today and very much unlike our eldest 21 year old son and our 19 year old twins. They didn’t have the choice of a “summer holiday”. They had been away in the city at school and once they finished Year 12 they came home to the farm for harvest. All of them had jobs, either off the farm or with us. All of them worked every day for most of the summer. They did not have the freedom to go to the beach when it was a perfect surf day. So that makes me wonder, do our teenagers and children have too many responsibilities at an early age? Do they get to have a childhood? Do they even know the freedom that I had? Probably not and I think that is a bit sad. Do we expect too much from them, or not enough?
It worked for me. I will always be very grateful for my “summer holiday” because I met my gorgeous farmer husband.