My grandfather, first and foremost, was a farmer. He, later in life, once he married my grandmother and they had a family, worked for Arvin and helped my grandmother run the family's grocery store, in addition to farming, but he was a farmer in the true sense of the word. His life was intricately woven with the patterns of nature, when it was time for tilling, planting, harvesting, it was as if his internal clock ticked in time with cycle of life. His sleep was different in the winter than the summer, his skin changed color, growing richly tan with the sun as the crops flourished and grew and gained their own natural color with the passing of each warm summer day.
If you can't tell, he and I were very close. He was, and is despite having died, one of my heroes. He was truly an inspiration in that he was a good person, solid, strong, and always did his best to do the right thing, no matter how hard that was. He always encouraged and loved me, and sometimes set me straight, always with the softest of hearts. When I was a kid I would spend several weeks with my grandparents during the summer and during those long, lazy Indiana days I would follow behind Grandpa, from the time he woke up at dawn until the sun had set and the only sound was the buzzing of the insects and the call of the whipper will outside my window.
He was, by nature, not extremely talkative, which was probably good since anyone who knows me would say I talk a mile a minute. That being said, when we were out in the garden, be it picking the fruits and vegetables, or on the tractor, or weeding, he would talk. He would tell me about farming, during the Depression, his life, and farming in general. He would tell me what we were doing and why, how tomatoes like it a bit damp in the soil, how corn should be "knee high by the Fourth of July", and all sorts of tidbits about farming, growing things, and life.
Here I am sure, I could be a bit cliche and talk about how writers are like farmers, from a single idea, a seed, a whole story grows, just as from a single seed crops grow. I could also say that, like a farmer, writing is a gamble. Some years storms come and wipe out crops, or writers block crashes in around a writer, or work is lost, figuratively and literally. However, when I think of Grandpa, who grew up during the Depression and was as down to earth as anyone could be what I really think of was a dreamer.
A farmer is a dreamer like no other. They take their income, their livelihood and sink it into seed. They plant that seed knowing any number of things can happen that would ensure that seed never rises from it's slumber under the dark soil, not to mention all that could happen once it does emerge from beneath the ground. In fact, it is more likely that seed will not come to harvest than it is that it will, but every year a farmer plants his crops, he tends it, he prays for it, he breathes it. It is a dream on which his livelihood and that of his family's depends on and yet he takes that leap of faith. Grandpa did every year from the time he could walk until he died at 92. He never gave up the dream and every year he participated in the wonder, the heart break, the rhythm of life.
Here is where I find my inspiration from him, here is where I hope I follow in his footsteps. When I write, I take a leap of faith too. A leap of faith that people will read what I wrote, that I can in fact, even write it, and that it will survive the entire writing process. On those days I don't want to write, I want to just walk away, or I wonder if I should give up this dream, I think of him, of his hands, large and calloused pressing seed into the ground and I know I can't give up, I know I have to believe, I know I have to write.