It felt like going back in time when Katrina and I moved to a very rural area of Kentucky. No industry, no big box stores, no interstate, just country roads and a few little towns and the county seat, with the only stoplight— which may just tell you something about the area. It’s made up of gentle hills and valleys, and mainly what folks do for a living around here is farm. Not those big, sprawling farms of the Midwest, but mostly small family farms. That also describes our place. Our farm was pretty overgrown, except for a neighbor cutting hay from the hayfield and some clearing done by the neighbor’s uncle, who has pastured his cows on this land since he was a boy.
When we first acquired the property, there were two old houses half fallen down, with their roofs collapsed. I had them taken down and hauled away. While the houses are gone, each spring their memory returns: someone must have really cared for the land, for the spots are covered with beautiful flowers of all types. As Katrina and I became more familiar with our property, we noticed some ornamental shrubs that had gone wild. There were also vast patches of blackberries everywhere. One day on a hike, along a tree line where an old barbed-wire fence had once been, we discovered wild pear trees growing. The pears were hard and small, but oh, so tasty! What a sweet delight!
We wondered what else might be here. In a careful search of the overgrown area, we found wild grapevines just laden with grapes. On another part of the farm, near the hayfield, we found wild plums growing. It didn’t seem as if they were planted in those unlikely spots, but who knows. One summer day, taking our usual walk across the land, we found some half-eaten pawpaws. If you’ve never heard of a pawpaw, it’s a delicious fruit that tastes like a cross between a mango and a banana. We looked all around the area, but couldn’t find a pawpaw tree. It was no use to ask our dogs where they found them; oh, yes, we tried, but I think maybe they were keeping the secret to themselves. It wasn’t until later in the summer, while we were looking for a spring, that Katrina stumbled into an entire grove of pawpaws hidden in the middle of a dense forest of oaks, hickories, maples, and other hardwood trees. We were able to harvest several buckets full of the delicious fruits. Another sweet delight!
It seemed each season held a sweet surprise for us. Early fall gave us elderberries, which Katrina made into a tasty tonic we could use in our herb teas on those cold mornings. On another walk, with the nip of frost in the air, we hiked along a mostly abandoned farm road on our property. Suddenly, we stepped on something soft and squishy. Looking skyward, we saw grayish brown branches decorated with fruits like orange Christmas ornaments. What a lucky find: one of my personal favorites, persimmons!
You never know for certain what you might find when you live close to the and. There are so many different sweet delights that can surprise you when you least suspect it. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little taste of country iving we’ve been able to share with you. Hopefully, you’ll also be able to find and share your slice of paradise. Bless you in the sweet delights!