Live Real. Eat Real.

Home is Where the Farmer Is

I was born in El Paso, and grew up in Dallas.  I spent the last 4 years of my life in Texas living in the mid-cities area – a collection of suburbs connecting Dallas and Ft. Worth.

I’m a Texan, through and through.  To this day, if someone asks me where I’m from, I’ll tell them, “I live in Podunk, Ohio but I’m from Texas.”

I was 42 when I left Texas and moved to Ohio, and I hated it.  I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly homesick I was.  It didn’t help that I went from a metropolitan area of over 3 million people to a small city of barely 73,000 – heck, the suburb where I lived in Texas was nearly that big.  Worse yet, the only decent ethnic food in the area I now live is Italian – if you want French or Thai or Mexican or Vietnamese or Colombian or Middle Eastern or, gee, anything that isn’t pizza or pasta (well, maybe German), you better learn to cook it yourself, because it pretty much doesn’t exist here.  There are exactly 3 ethnic markets in our area; one Mexican, one Asian, and one Halal – all approximately the size of my walk-in closet (you think I kid).  You have to spend $20 at the Asian market before they’ll take a debit or credit card.

Don’t even get me started on what passes for barbecue here.

Dallas has more shopping malls per capita than any other city in the world…Podunk has one.  The tallest building downtown is a whopping eight stories tall.

The area we moved to is also pretty insular; in Dallas, there are a lot of people from not just all over the country, but from all over the world.  Here, it’s not uncommon for young people to move into a house down the street from their parents when they leave home.  And I’d never been met with so many cold shoulders as I had when we moved to Podunk – it was literally years before we made friends here, beyond our co-workers and a lovely woman I’d actually met online years before.  To this day I get asked, “Why on earth did you move here??”

I guess it just turned out that we weren’t looking in the right places for friends, and it took changing the way we eat to meet them.

They’re called farmers, and they are just the nicest, warmest people. In. The. Whole. World.

We friends with our beef farmer, hog farmer, poultry farmer, vegetable farmer; we’ve made friends with a lovely lady who makes artisan goat cheeses.  We’re friends with our butchers.  We found someone who grows the best damn watermelon in the area, as well as someone who not only grows a dazzling array of winter squashes (and sells them dirt cheap), but raises the tastiest goats you’d ever hope to find.

They all think we’re a little off our rockers.  Which makes them pretty smart, too.

I’ve become quite attached to these people, and while I was becoming attached to them, I became attached to the entire area because you simply can’t separate these people from the land.  And I surprised myself recently with the realization that I don’t dream of moving back to Texas any more; bluebonnet season may be spectacular, but so is autumn in Cuyahoga Valley.  Downtown Oak Cliff may be full of history and character, but so is downtown Wadsworth – and you don’t have to worry about being mugged.  People may not drive with any sense of urgency here, but I never have to worry about the traffic on I-635, either.  A 45-minute trip to have dinner in Dallas used to be nothing; nowadays, a 45-minute trip to Cleveland for dinner calls for an overnight stay.

Somehow in the last couple of years, this became home.  I’d like to stay awhile.

For more Hometown Spins, go visit Gretchen at Second Blooming.  Take her some barbecue from The Salt Lick; she’s homesick.


11 comments

Lisa says:

I am so happy to hear that. I know that for so long you missed Texas. I imagine you’d still like a Ranch 99 nearby, but the farmers sound wonderful.

Michele says:

When we moved to Bloomington, Indiana I settled right in because of the farmers market, the weather and meeting my good friend in the wine department of Krogers. I’d move back there in a heartbeat whereas I wouldn’t move back to my hometown, mostly because Seattle weather is dreary. Dreary no longer works for me.

I’m heading to Denton tonight. Want me to pick up something for you?

VandyJ says:

Just goes to show that where ever you go, there you are. Sounds like you have found a way to make where you are home.
I’m slightly jealous about the easy access to farms–nothing grows well here so we have high prices even in farmer markets.

chuck says:

Northeast Ohio aint real exciting. Although nothing here moves too fast, you have to slow down to really enjoy it. We have all the same boring chain stores and restaurants. The gems though, are sparse but so much more enjoyable when you find them. Just email me and I will share some more of the secrets. It does seem that we have discovered some of the same joys at about the same time.

Gretchen says:

First of all…YES, PLEASE SEND SALT LICK! I absolutely love the idea of knowing my farmers. I get pretty much everything from the faceless supermarket. It’s kind of depressing. And I’m really happy for you that you’ve found a little gang of foodie friends! I bet you’re missing some barbecue too!

I’ll have you linked by this afternoon as soon as I figure out if Jimmy has another kidney stone. Don’t ask.

Be says:

I’m so glad: this post brings a tear to my eye. Like my uncle once told me when I was appalled by the cramped the housing tenements on one of my first business trips to New York City, “home is where you make it”. Indeed, it’s about the people, friends, family and our farmer families.

What Michelle may not know is that Cleveland has more overcast days than Seattle so it IS dreary here, especially in the winter. But as Chuck points out, it makes you appreciate the beautiful days all that much more. And I don’t miss the 100+ degree days.

Though I do wish these morons would learn to drive, or failing that at least, as my daughter says, “have SOME sense of urgency!”

Lori says:

I had to chuckle when I read that you live in a small city of 73,000…since I live in a much smaller town, I consider a city of 73,000 very big….lol. I like that you have gotten to know your farmers like this. Growing up on a farm and living in the country for much of my life and knowing the farmers personally, I forget that not everyone has such access to such good wholesome meats and produce like we do here. For many years, people would drive from hours away to order beef and pork from my dad. I remember having my picture taken by what we called the City Slickers…lol…they would ask “Can we take a picture of your cute little farm kids?” Dear lord. I am so happy that you have made a home there. :)

I was born in Shreveport, LA but moved to Dallas when I was 4 and consider myself a Texan through and through. I lived there until I was 28 years old…my parents had moved to Colorado right after I graduated from high school…I stayed in Texas, got married, had babies and then decided I wanted to be near my family (I’m an only child). My husband who was born and raised in Texas graciously agreed to move to Colorado and transferred with his company…we put our house on the market and I stayed behind with the kiddos to sell the house while he moved to start his new job…Funny story (for me, not him)…after he moved I panicked and couldn’t imagine myself ever leaving Texas and took the for sale sign out of the yard and proudly announced that I had changed my mind and wasn’t leaving! Ha! Well…it took several more months and a curious series of events to get me back on board with leaving that great state…Needless to say, I now live in Colorado and have been here for 14 years…I can’t imagine my life anywhere else! Oh, and lucky for me my husband is a very loving and patient person…we are still married and now consider Colorado our home.

Alex says:

Wow, what a move! It’s great that you’ve been able to make connections, and friends, and settle in to find a new home!
I can’t imagine moving away from Toronto. Then again, I still live at home, so I can hardly imagine moving out…in Toronto. So, um, I need to do some more growing up first I guess!! ; )

The Bug says:

I had to laugh at the 73,000 too – I live in Xenia & I think we have around 25,000 people. Although I do work in Cincinnati, so I get my fill of the “big” city. We moved to Ohio from NC so my husband could pursue his Ph.D in Cincinnati. And that was ok – we had a goal & I liked my job. But then he got a job teaching in Urbana, so we moved to Xenia (it’s halfway between Urbana & my Cincinnati job) & I totally fell in love. I love the cornfields & the soybeans & the small town. I don’t know why, but it really really suits me. But I’m not a foodie in the least so I wasn’t bothered by the lack of great restaurants. And I HATE to shop :)

Vanessa says:

Small world! I’m from Dallas and now love in Columbus, OH! :)

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