Hibiscus Tea (not a recipe)

Biggest whopper of a watermelon grown to date at Honey Creek.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a farmer. So I hope I don’t misrepresent myself when I say we live on a farm.

I’m not a city girl either, even though I’ve lived in a city for five years of my life.
Nor am I a lake girl, or a  beach girl, though I spent a couple semesters pretending to study on a beach. I almost have enough credit to get by as a mountain girl, because all my babies were born above 7,000 feet, but Colorado street cred peaks and dies in a hurry, if you know what I mean. I lost the cool card the minute we sold the rushing river mountain view from our back porch and traded it in for a paved cul de sac. Then I took it a step further and moved into the city. And then we shoved in all our chips and left the state all together.
The closest thing I got to being a something was in the mountains, and now I’ve lost whatever something I had by fixing my kids baloney sandwiches and putting them back in public school.

But it’s fun to pretend I’m a farm girl now, especially when I mount the Bad Boy ZT mower and hay the field, er, mow my lawn.

It took awhile to get the hang of it. It feels more like riding a go-cart than work, and she rides fast. I almost took out a baby peach tree because it mows so wide. Instead I just mulched the wood chips a little finer. On the third week here Farmer Joe took out the minivan window with a rock. That was an expensive lesson to learn–Bad Boy is not a toy.

I was out mowing along the front barns near the main road when my neighbor pulled onto his property with his tractor. Solidarity, I thought, in a way only a non farm girl might dream, oblivious to the truth. We’re both on our respective tractors, working on a Sunday afternoon. Then I scolded myself for taking too much credit. I come from farming genes, and the clearest memories of summer I have are of my grandpa entering the house, sweaty and dusty, and collapsing into the recliner in his dirty overalls, a gallon of iced Pepsi in his right hand and a bag of tortilla chips in his left. A trip on the Bad Boy doesn’t compare.
I had ear protection on, and he was hardly paying attention to me, so I didn’t wave, even though I felt like it and definitely kept my eye out to see if he acknowledged me in any way. 

I started thinking how convenient it is to not be a farmer.

And then I thought, I wonder if he’d like something cold to drink.

Which reminded me of the time I was a mountain girl, and we were building a new deck on the back of our mountain home. The original deck was something from a horror movie, two stories up. It was wobbly and rickety and terrifying for moms of toddler boys. We tore it off and hired a hippy man to pour new foundations and put up a new deck. He was of the bearded, dreadlocked and barefooted variety, a dad of another kid whom we eventually attended homeschool coop with a year later. Once in class his kid mentioned to mine that one day he was going to smoke herbs, because his dad said they weren’t the same thing as drugs.

But back to the deck. The men were out sweating while pouring concrete and I mixed up some Lipton tea and berry lemonade, a sort of weird clearance item I’d found at the grocery store. It actually tasted so odd that I tried to fix it by adding in actual koolaid, a black cherry packet, and another odd tea bag from the bottom of the tea tin–jasmine, it was. Before I could talk myself out of it, I put ice in the glasses, poured the drinks, and stepped outside to hand it to the workers. They gratefully accepted, removed their gloves, and took a big swig.

“Wow, thanks. That’s really good,” the pot-smoking dad said.

“I just love hibiscus and honey tea.”

The smile froze on my face and I nodded dumbly.
There have been many opportunities since to drink koolaid in Colorado but I’ve felt utterly pressured into being ashamed to admit it is anything but a trash beverage. (See the story where I made cookies with Crisco and a lady spit it out into her hand upon hearing the truth.) I tend to play along with the healthy crowd–I do my penance for my candy and hotdog consumption in the mornings on the school track. 

All this to say: I’ve really come home, and I mean it. I’d offer that tractor-driving neighbor a koolaid or sweet tea or combination any day, and I’d be honest in telling him what it was.

If we ever make eye contact. Which we probably won’t, because I’m just a fake farmer on a Bad Boy, trying not to mow down my trees.

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