Just West of the Midwest Chapter 38: Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Days

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Unimaginable.

This will be my last piece of correspondence from Japan.

During these past two years – these last 766 days – marriages have been performed.

Children born. Careers have changed.

Loves have been lost. Wars have been fought.

Dreams have become clearer for some. And closer for others.

In the last few weeks, I’ve found my senses heightened by the knowledge of my approaching departure. The sights, sounds and tastes of Japan that have become as familiar to me as my own reflection, are now reborn.

Wrought by experience, intense and profound.

Even the daily walk from my front door to the Town Hall has been re-animated as I try to absorb any and all things I hope to remember about my little town.

The familiar faces of the shopkeepers.

The buckets of fresh lilies at the grocery store checkout that I purchased every week in big bundles. Making my return home at the end of each day sweet and welcoming.

The ever-present street cleaners with their straw hats, white scarves, gloves, boots and brooms, charged with whisking away mess.

Neighbors keeping the gossip vine tended.

Little giggles behind hidden smiles.

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Photo by acfrohna

On this daily walk, I pass the old tailor’s shop where an elderly man sits behind a long, sliding glass door open to the street. Bent over an ancient sewing machine, barefoot and cross-legged, he always works with great care and concentration.

Yet nearly every day I’ve passed him in the past two years, he’s lifted his old, gray head and called through the cloudy glass door, “Konichiwa.”

Smiling and bowing over the handiwork still clutched in his wrinkled, old hands.

We’ve never formally met. But I’ve come to know his friendly, furrowed face well.

In the days he’s not been in his usual place, I’ve felt strangely disappointed – worried even – as if his absence would somehow irrevocably misalign the comfortable rhythm my life has found in Shintomi.

Just a few steps away from the tailor’s is a tatami weaver’s shop where, amid all the rice straw and mats of the workshop, resides an old, gray billy goat who bleats loudly each time I pass.

Such devotion to my comings and goings has never once failed to make me smile.

Off the main street, along a narrow path through thick, green woods, I’ve daily passed the twisted, well-worn steps leading to a small, wooden shrine which looks to be as old as time.

On the days when the ocean breeze blows through the woods, it coaxes the old, tarnished bell, hung above a carved, wooden offering box, to chime softly on its own.

Only once have I dared to cross its threshold.

For fear I might offend its devotees or worse, rouse its deities.

The brief moment I did linger made me wonder.

Should I have more faith?

Up a small hill, through a cluster of low, wooden houses, I see Kizukume River making its ways from the mountains of Miyazaki to the Pacific Ocean.

The days when the river is low, I can look down from the banks and watch a group of boys wading through the water, skipping stones and picking up various forms of life that failed to make it the final few miles.

Occasionally, if the boys catch sight of me, they’ll call me down.

Or run up the bank to show off their finds.

Explaining with great enthusiasm how they happened upon such a small wonder.

I’ll touch the object in their hands and make a face that evokes chuckles all around and after listening very closely to their latest adventure, I might just pick one of them up and spin them around; knowing that in doing so, it will only be a matter of moments before there’s a long line of neighborhood children who want me to make them fly, “Mo ichido!” (“Once more!”)

Down my street, for the past two years, I’ve been almost daily greeted by a dog on a chain (I don’t know his name) who will, without fail, race me from one end of his line to the other.

Leaping over yard obstacles.

And through a part of the bushes he’s trampled to extinction.

Panting and barking and wagging his tail at the end of the trodden trail, he ever-patiently awaits my customary scratch behind his ears.

I’ve never let him down.

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Photo by acfrohna

Just outside my apartment building, there is a small playground where the children of my neighborhood gather. On the days that we meet, they explode with tales of their precious moments. And they ask the very same questions they’ve asked for two years about the strange place from which I come.

Sometimes I’ll make up stories.

And places.

Just to see the looks on their faces.

The boys like to show me how far they can jump, how fast they can run, how high they can swing and how strong they are.

Until I hand them my bulky school bags to carry.

My little playground friend, Miyata-kun, has made me a very special promise. Someday, he swears, we will marry.

At present, he tells me he is 7 years old.

He thinks it best that I return to Japan in 15 years, so he may fulfill his promise.

These familiar faces and places have been witness to my good days.

My bad days.

And my really bad days.

To my stumbles, my forays and follies.

They’ve been an essential part of a very fortunate choice I made two years back.

To try something different.

Never did I expect this place to feel so much like my home.

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Word of my departure has spread throughout the town and people whom I’ve barely spoken to now seem to know my immediate and future plans better than I do. With this in mind, my weekly schedule has been insane due to the overwhelming number of farewell parties being thrown in my honor.

I’ve had a consistent hangover for days.

Now I’m sure many of you might think I have absolutely no self-control, but the fact is that the Japanese custom of keeping glasses full (in addition to my reputation for being able to handle astronomical amounts of alcohol), has resulted in my being plied with beer and Shochyu at every turn.

If I attempt to hold a hand over my glass to avoid another refill, I immediately read the disappointment on the faces of friends and my Shintomi family who want to make the most of my final days.

And I relent.

This is made even more difficult when, as the guest of honor, it would be considered rude if I didn’t accept a refill from every member of the party.

If only I could have been stealth enough to do what I once witnessed Yoshino-san do at a gathering. Having her glass filled, yet again, I watched out of the corner of my eye as she slyly dumped her drink (when all heads were turned) into a nearby potted plant – now deceased.

One particularly shining moment in all this farewell hullaballoo was a dinner I attended at a local establishment I frequented with Yoshino-san. I really wasn’t expecting much more than your typically lovely and delicious fare that evening, so when I was led to the private party room in back and opened the sliding door, I found myself (for the first time in a very long time) left utterly speechless by what I found.

The long table which lay before me was surely the most incredible display of culinary artistry I’d ever seen – and in two years of eating my way across Asia, that says a lot.

The Masta (owner) had turned the table before me into an extraordinary ocean scene. As if a fisherman had just pulled his net in from the water.

He had carved (I’m not even sure that’s the proper word to describe the cutting technique he used.) a large net out of daikon (a large, white, winter radish) and, as if twisting and flailing in one last desperate attempt to free themselves, there were a variety of heads and tails of fish rising through the net.

Middled by sashimi.

Which the Masta knew to be my absolute favorite food.

Carrots were carved into coral.

Marinated seaweed was flowing from shells.

I was overwhelmed by its exquisiteness and found my eyes filling with tears (I’ve been crying a hell of a lot lately), as I slowly made my way around the entire circumference of the table before sitting down, delighted and dumbfounded.

As if this farewell gift wasn’t enough, I was recently presented with a magnificent yukata (a summer kimono), complete with a beginner’s obi (pre-folded and formed into a lovely bow the color of goldenrod), geta and tabi. It is, without doubt, the loveliest and certainly the most special piece of clothing I have ever – or will ever – have. It was hand sewn by a lovely woman, Michiko Sei, the mother of one of my most passionate students of English.

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Photo by acfrohna

The yukata is made of a light cotton fabric. It has the deepest of blues as its background and drips with swathes of aqua blue which looks like rain pouring over the large pink camellias with their pale yellow centers in full bloom.

On the inside collar, the date (July 10, 1992), my name, and the name of the lovely woman who made this treasure is carefully embroidered, so that even as the years pass, the future generations I hope and help to create, will know of this very extraordinary time in my life.

I honestly don’t know what I did to deserve such a very precious thing, but I will be forever grateful for the lovely people of Shintomi who have not only been extremely kind, but exceptionally generous.

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Photo by acfrohna

The other day, I had my last class at Nyuta Junior High. After class, as I was heading to the teachers’ room, a group of boys approached me and we began our usual session of ribbing each other. The next thing I knew, I was surrounded hundreds of my students – all of whom were trying to have one last chance to talk with me.

Someone asked me to sign their notebook. This began an outpouring of requests.

For the next half hour, I was signing books, notebooks, pencil cases, mats, hands, and every variety of school paraphernalia one could imagine.

Several girls also wanted a token to remember me by. They asked if they could have one of my earrings, but being rather expensive, I had to say no. They surveyed me from head to toe, trying to think of something they could take. We finally settled on some tiny locks of hair.

Probably not the best idea.

When they showed the strands to their friends, I was bombarded with similar requests.

I promised, instead, I’d stop by school next week with some mementoes which didn’t involve my going bald.

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Photo by acfrohna

Some of my students are having a rather hard time coming to terms with why I have chosen to “abandon” them. I’m continually being asked why I’m going back to the United States and why I don’t want to stay in Japan forever.

I’ve tried to make them understand, but I’m not sure I’ve been very successful.

Part of this has to be because I’m often menaced by the notion that I’ve made the wrong decision – even though, just below the surface, I know that staying is not an option. I know I need to step beyond my cozy, little job in Shintomi before the pleasant, but un-stimulating duties required of me become nothing but drudgery.

And me a whiny, nagging drudge.

That’s not how I want to remember my time here.

I also know the disquiet I feel is simply masked sadness knowing so many unavoidable, final good-byes lie ahead.

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Photo by acfrohna

I’ve told my students about the new teacher who will replace me. A girl from New Zealand, but they don’t seem to care.

I’m sure things will change the first moment this new face steps into their classrooms.  Although I have to admit that I like the idea of being considered irreplaceable and have recently found myself a little more than resentful at the thought of someone taking my place in the hearts of my students and friends.

In my town.

In my apartment.

Nevertheless, as they say here, “Shikata ga nai.”

It can’t be helped. Besides, the town is thrilled that they’re getting another AET, as they should be. To have been approved for a fourth year in a row is unusual, especially for such a small town. But because of the great reports they’ve received about my time here and Shelley’s (the AET here before me), they’ve been given another year in the program.

That makes me truly proud and very happy for them.

I was asked to prepare a good-bye speech (in Japanese) which I’m to present to the entire staff of the Shintomi Town Hall. Even though I should be used to this after two years filled with similar requests, I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold it together. Not only because of nerves, mind you, but raw, unconstrained emotions which have me blubbering round the clock lately.

The following is the speech I have planned:

When I was first told I’d be living in Shintomi-cho, I tried to locate the town in my atlas. According to the map, it didn’t exist. Yet I didn’t panic because I’ve always found that the smallest places in this world often present the biggest adventures.

When I arrived here two years ago, I certainly expected things to be different. But to be honest, EVERYTHING here was far more strange and curious than anywhere I’d ever been before. This was intensified by the fact that I couldn’t speak a word of Japanese and I knew very little about your culture, other than what I’d read in anticipation of my new job.

From the beginning, however, it’s been my desire to learn about Japan.

Not just as a witness to it, but a participant in it. For I believe that our eyes cannot teach us what our hearts never feel.

My heart was happy to discover the common bond we have to co-exist peacefully and our willingness to acknowledge – and accept – our differences, whether cultural or spiritual, economic or political.

There is a great deal we can learn from each other.

And so much at stake if we don’t.

And even though there have been days that I’ve been disappointed and frustrated by the people (both Japanese and foreign) who have refused to learn anything from one another, I have also experienced the great joy that comes from understanding that our differences can also be our greatest assets in becoming better people.

My Shintomi Family and the many friends I’ve made here have been kind enough to make my two years in Japan a shared adventure.

A shared learning experience. A time in my life that I will always be very, very proud of.

I want to thank all of you for this unforgettable, unpredictable, extraordinary adventure.

You will ever be a part of my heart.

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With the few remaining days left, I plan to make the most of it by annoying various friends in the Town Hall while they attempt to work, playing games with my students at lunch, joining in treasure hunts on the beach and fighting the urge to offer a teary farewell – possibly even a hug – to ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE I see on my way through town.

My seven hundred and sixty-six days here have been an incredible experience and will always be one of the most important times in my life.

I have become a better person for it.

To a small degree, I have experienced the prejudices of being a racial minority and have found it both infuriating and discouraging, enlightening and character-building. At the same time, I’ve greedily indulged in the special attention and privileges I was given for this very same reason.

I have seen ancient ceremonies on chilly mountain tops and participated in local traditions down the hot streets of summer.

I have learned much from the young and old I have befriended and hope that I have left nothing but fond memories in my wake.

Leaving my little town of Shintomi will be the most heart-breaking thing I’ve ever had to do.

My love to you all… it’s off to Beijing, then home… see you in August.

Just West of the Midwest: Epilogue

Sam stayed for two more years teaching English after I, as she put it, “cruelly abandoned” her. During this time, she and Jeff (Remember our friendly neighborhood Canadians?) got married.

Sam soon got pregnant and the newlyweds decided to return to Jeff’s homeland for a while. In Canada, they had their first child, Hannah. Sam and her new family lived in Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, for two years, where she taught ESL (English as a Second Language) part-time at a community college and where Jeff worked as a tour guide for Japanese tourists.

In 1997, Sam and Jeff decided to return to Japan, this time to Hiroshima and then, to Okayama where they taught for 7 years at a private girls’ junior high/high school. In 1998, they had their second daughter, Emily. Both girls were educated in the Japanese public school system until they decided to return to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sam has continued teaching: first ESL, then high school, and now Kindergarten, at the only public elementary school in BC to teach Japanese as a second language. Jeff and Sam now own and operate a foreign language academy.

After keeping in touch over the years and finally reuniting after 20, Sam and I remain great friends who still continue to make each other laugh.

A lot.

I also reunited recently with Greg, our other fine Canadian friend, who also lives in Vancouver. He came to visit my family and I in Prescott and I’m pleased to report that we had an awesome visit which I hope will be repeated before another two decades pass.

So wonderful to see such heart behind old friendships.

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As for me, the years following my time in Japan proved less fruitful than Sam’s. I returned to Chicago where for the first year I, yet again, lived and struggled to make ends meet alongside my sister, Mia.

I managed to find yet another underpaid, dead-end job managing a photographer’s studio and the occasional gigs substitute teaching and freelance writing, until an ad in the newspaper prompted me to apply for a position in Italy, as a nanny.

Desperate to be abroad again, thinking it would be inspirational for fulfilling my (then) dream of writing children’s stories, I donned my best Mary Poppins garb (carpetbag and all) and talked my way into a job caring for a handful-of-a-seven-year-old boy and a sweet-tempered, round-faced two year old girl and (unbeknownst to me prior to my arrival) living the life of a cloistered nun in a once beautiful, ancient, multi-partitioned, family villa on the top of a mountain overlooking Lake Como in northern Italy.

Talk about your opposite ends of the spectrum.

This lasted just under a year until I resigned (both parties being quite happy about the decision) and returned to Chicago where, once again, I struggled to make a living and a life for myself, returning to old employers and old jobs which, however grateful I was for the opportunity, would lead me absolutely nowhere.

In 1994, having had enough of big city lights, butting heads with my sister, and living in the midst of some truly terrible neighborhoods, I headed north to join my parents and some siblings already living in Wisconsin. Here, I found an apartment, a job at a small newspaper and, eventually, my husband – and best friend, Kurt.

For a few years, I regularly corresponded with a couple of my friends and a few of my best students from Japan, but as the language began to fade from my memory from disuse and their letters became far more complicated, I regrettably stopped trying to respond.

For many years, I corresponded with Tom, the Australian sailor I had met in Malaysia. It was always wonderful to hear about where his sailing adventures had taken him of late, even though each letter seemed tinged with a profound sense of sadness and loneliness. Even more sad was when, after telling him of my impending marriage, Tom decided not to write any further. Saddest of all, however, was when fact-checking for this book, I learned that Tom had passed away a few years back.

During my twelve years in Wisconsin, while raising my two daughters, Eva and Sophia, I honed my craft as the master storyteller you see before you, working as a writer and editor for local and regional newspapers and magazines and writing four remarkably fascinating Wisconsin history books.

Moving to Prescott, Arizona in 2010 and finding myself unemployed and steaming headfirst into middle age, I knew it was time to tell my own tales.

Honestly, I had as much fun writing this as I did living it.

Well… almost.

And when my daughters read these pages, it’s my sincere hope they’ll still listen to my advice about life.

Most definitely NOT do exactly as I did.

Strive to do their own thing.

Have their own remarkable adventures.

And ALWAYS find good friends to both live and share them with.

The Ant and Other Farm Stories: Daybreak; illustrated by Jodi Maas

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Illustrations by Jodi Maas

 

As slowly and deliberately as the first, great yawn of the morning, life around Cunningham Farm wakes and stretches toward the new day.

An early spring storm blew across the land during the night, blowing things this way and that, bringing down new leaves and old branches.

The crisp, moist air smells sweet (almost good enough to eat) as a million rising suns reflect in a million clinging raindrops, making everything glisten and gleam.

Warm breaths rise from the barnyard and linger briefly in the cold, damp dawn as smoke begins to drift from the kitchen chimney and another day on the little farm begins for all – for both the big and the very, very small.

The Ant and Other Farm Stories: The Ant that Lives on Lauren’s Creek, illustrated by Jodi Maas

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Illustrations by Jodi Maas

There is a spot called Lauren’s Creek
on some land known as Cunningham Farm.
It’s a special place of which I speak
for although it’s quite small, it has charm.

On this creek, there lives an ant
who built his small house on its banks.
And as much as the walls made of mud tend to slant –
for his home, he gives plenty of thanks.

His name to human ears might appear
to make little sense whatsoever,
but if you read on, you will soon learn
of a practice that’s really quite clever.

For not all living creatures, you see,
have names like you and I.
They do not begin with an “s”, “a”, or “g”
and it’s not ours to always ask why.

Instead many animals use different sounds
to make their names known to their sort;
be it “baaahs” of the sheep, “woofs” of the hounds,
as well as the pigs that go “snort!”

Now as to the name of the ant mentioned here,
who presently lies fast asleep,
he’s known by all antfolk who live far and near
as the wise and most neighborly “Eeep.”

All cozy and warm in his house on the creek,
his six legs tucked snug in his bed,
Eeep’s nap is cut short by the start of a leak
that drips a big drop on his head.

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His eyes flutter open and look to the roof
when the water begins to pour down.
It’s then that he hears a distinctly close “WOOF!”
“Blast that dog!” he declares with a frown.

Climbing from bed, now soggy and mired,
Eeep stomps to the door leading out.
“Go away, you big beast, for I’m dreadfully tired!”
he calls in his loudest ant shout.

But the dog, who regrettably doesn’t speak “Ant”
pays no mind to the ant’s plea to “Shoo.”
He just romps down the creek with a wag and a pant,
leaving poor Eeep rather blue.

2. The Ant

”Now I’ll have to rebuild,” he replies with a moan.
“Since that beast came I’ve worked day and night,
I wish that dumb dog would go chew on a bone.
Always ruining my house isn’t right.”

Now the dog, known as Noble, to folk on the farm
really isn’t as bad as Eeep guesses.
For truly his purpose is not to do harm,
but he sometimes creates little messes.

And really, their difference in size is so great,
it’s not fair to give Noble the blame.
Although the ant’s house is in quite a bad state,
it was too small to see – that’s the shame.

But what can Eeep do with a problem so grand?
It’s quite clear that the dog will return.
“I’ve got it,” he cries. “It’s a sheer brilliant plan.
All my bad luck’s now surely to turn.”

So up Eeep climbs, to the banks of the creek
where he toils and struggles and strains.
That obstinate ant works for nearly a week,
until all of his energy drains.

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“My work’s now complete,” the ant says with a smile.
“This time Noble I’ll surely outsmart.
I’ll wait here and watch for that hound to pass by.”
Thus, behind a large mushroom he darts.

Eeep doesn’t wait long for the dog to arrive
for soon out of the bush he comes leaping.
Then into the creek the dog makes a grand dive;
while very nearby Eeep stands peeping.

”Oh please, please, please, let my hard work succeed,”
the ant wishes with all of his might.
“A good night’s rest I terribly need!”
His little heart pounds with such fright.

Then with great joy, Eeep sees what he wishes,
the dread Noble is changing his route.
“Yippee!” cries the ant, “my house has been missed!
No thanks to that big, ugly brute.”

3. Noble

The reason, you see, that the dog is outsmarted
is that now the creek flows left AND right.
Eeep through his labor the water has parted
-securing his home out of sight.

His house now lies left, on the narrower side,
where the water just trickles a trail.
And Noble, preferring his creeks deep and wide,
was sure to go right without fail.

Content that his troubles are finally through –
for at last there is no dog to dread –
now that the creek is divided in two,
with great glee, Eeep heads straight for his bed!

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The Ant and Other Farm Stories: Noble’s Deeds, illustrated by Jodi Maas

3. Noble

Noble, a Labrador black as the night
oversees all life on the farm.
With the sun, he bounds across the land.
With the moon, he makes sure none see harm.

With great pride, he meanders across the old farm
sniffing out every scent to be found.
With a wag of his tail and a bark here and there,
he covers each inch of the ground.

His name is quite apt, as you will see.
For his kindness and courage he’s known.
From the time he was only a wee, little pup,
a goodness he’s gallantly shown.

His coat is as shiny as silver and gold
His tongue is as pink as a rose.
His big, brown eyes watch with great care
all that goes past the tip of his nose.

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Now and again, there’s a rabbit to tease
or a chicken to chase ‘round the barn.
But then there’s a time to be sober and staid
when Noble must guard the old farm.

A few summers back, great trouble arose
when some children were playing with matches.
A bale of hay caught fire in the barn.
And we all know how quickly hay catches.

Now Noble, whose nose is as keen as they come
was the first to smell trouble nearby.
He raced to the barn and saw the great flames
and barked out a loud warning cry.

The children had found their way out of the barn,
but still left were two cows and a horse.
By now the thick smoke billowed out the barn doors
and the flames of the fire raged full force.

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From the field Farmer Jim had run to the scene
and called for all hands that could aid.
He knew that he’d have to go into that barn
if those animals were to be saved.

The smoke was too thick to be able to see
and the farmhands were set to resign,
when into the barn ran the farmer, called Jim
with Noble, his dog, close behind.

With wondrous speed, Noble found the poor beasts
all huddled in fright in one section.
He “Woofed!” and he “Woofed!” as loud as he could,
thus guiding the farmer’s direction.

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All were saved in the end, but the barn was destroyed.
All that’s left now are three walls of stone.
Yet oddly enough, it’s a functional spot
where Noble likes burying bones.

Like the barn, it’s most certain that things come and go
and sometimes the change is alarming.
In fact, on the day little Lauren arrived,
Noble watched his folk buzzing and swarming.

At first, Noble found this small creature a pest
as he sat there and watched her make faces.
But as the seasons gradually passed,
Lauren managed to earn Noble’s graces.

Now anytime little Lauren’s at play,
you’re sure to find Noble around –
giving wet doggy kisses on each rosy cheek
as they run, and they romp, and they bound.

Noble discovered change wasn’t so bad.
It adds more to the life that he tends.
Not only is Lauren a change that he loves,
she’s also his very best friend.

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The Ant and Other Farm Stories: Sweet Lauren, illustrated by Jodi Maas

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Illustrations by Jodi Maas

Lauren was born on a cool autumn’s eve
as the stars made a home in her eyes.
When Lauren cries, the whole farm grieves
and when she laughs, smiles rise.

When Lauren gained faith in her two tiny feet,
all life on the farm stopped to see.
One foot, then the next, she’d step and she’d step.
“Sweet Lauren,” all urged, “come to me!”

Now Lauren well knows every inch of the land.
She explores whenever she’s able.
She knows the farm better than any farmhand
from the edge of the fields to the stable.

She seeks out adventures with Noble close by,
finding castles in old broken shacks.
She closes her eyes and imagines she flies,
swooping down toward the old railroad tracks.

Each day that she heads down this old railroad line,
Lauren finds a new life to befriend.
Just as the time that she heard a great whine
and sensed there was something to tend.

Giving ear to the cries, Lauren finally discovered
a fat cat that was stuck in a hole.
It seems the poor kitty got stuck in the ground
when chasing her lunch – a small mole.

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The cat squiggled and squirmed with all of its might,
thus hoping to squeeze its way out.
But all of its squirming had worsened its plight,
for the cat was quite clearly too stout.

When the stuck cat heard Noble she clawed and she wriggled
and her tail pointed straight in the air.
Then Lauren kneeled down to the poor cat and giggled,
“Don’t worry, fat kitty, I’m here.”

“There-there, little kitty,” Lauren said with a pat,
as she eased her new friend from the ground.
Her sweet, gentle voice soon calmed the poor cat
and a purr was the very next sound.

On this farm, there’s a pond used for fishing,
where the frogs like to croak until morn’.
It’s also a good spot for wishing.
One came true when sweet Lauren was born.

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The Ant and Other Farm Stories: Farmer Jim, illustrated by Jodi Maas

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Farmer Jim’s a good, kind man who rises with the sun.
He works the fields from dawn to dusk, until his work is done.

It’s hard work but he likes it, just like his father had.
You see, he’s known the farming ways since he was just a lad.

He knows his farm is special and so do other folk.
“My magic elves do all the work,” the farmer always jokes.

This magic’s not like others, though, it has no spells or charms.
To Farmer Jim, the magic lives within his two strong arms.

His life is very fortunate, as most around agree.
He thanks his lucky stars and says, “My gosh, I’m glad I’m me.”

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He always greets the morning with “How are you, Today?”
And when the moon returns each night, it hears about his day.

His tractor is his oldest friend that he depends upon.
In turn, the engine never fails to run until they’ve done.

His animals are family – each field a worthy mate.
And when some years don’t fare so well, he smiles, “Next year… just wait.”

It’s in the farmer’s nature to smile and look ahead.
For it’s the best way you can live when all is done and said.

That’s why his wife so loves him and stands right by his side.
There’s naught about this home of theirs in which they don’t take pride.

In turn, the farm yields treasures for the kindness it receives.
For Farmer Jim believes in his land, thus the land, in the farmer, believes.

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