This weekend was a lesson in never underestimating a person or an experience. And, the greatest lesson is that I do it on a regular basis. I see someone and have judgments based on age, demographic, sometimes even dress. Often, these judgments are hidden internally and don’t show themselves publicly, but they are there just the same and affect my responses to the world around me.
Sometimes, though, my judgments are startled and shaken to reality. Something, or someone is so surprising it changes my perceptions. This weekend was one of those experiences.
I pulled up at the farmer’s market, apparently the first stop on the Homegrown Farm Tour. Immediately, I was met with unique, yet wholesome characters. It was stand after stand of vegetables, fruits, and canned goods, followed at the end by a demonstration of women spinning wool and knitting. But the greatest treasure was found at the entrance, in bibbed overalls with a calm demeanor.
Virgil was signing copies of his own book composed of stories and poems of life in MO. As he signed my copy (of course I couldn’t resist), he turned to the “most important page” in the book: a picture of his wife of 63 years. He playfully told us “she got meaner with each year,” but smiled and winked as he followed it up with, “lucky for her I could handle it.”
I smiled, walking back to the car, thinking that would probably be the best part of the day.
Annie and I then found ourselves at BrookCherith Farms (www.brookcherithfarm.com). Again, I was surprised as we were met by teenagers and kids that gave us a tour of the farm. Before I knew it, I knew how to care for a hive, learned why they say “queen bee,” and smirked as they explained that there really are body guard bees that protect the hive. Who knew? They then showed us what chicken tractor were, how to water pigs with their interesting water system (which I witnessed as I trekked through the small patch of woods with the pigs running in front of me), and how to milk a cow. I was blown away not just by their knowledge, but that at such a young age, they were so passionate about it.
We had one more stop on our tour. This stop had us at a little antique store and house from 1807. Out back there were local farmers with their goods, but also local artisans. As I approached Rose’s stand, I knew I would like her right away. She took often discarded things, strings, scraps of cloth, old shears, and turned them into masterpieces. My eye was immediately drawn to an old paint brush she had saved from her husband. She has painted vision across the top of it and it immediately created the visual for me of someone painting their own vision.
I looked for a price and when I asked her face changed just a little. It was a cross somewhere between encouragement because someone appreciated her work, but fear that I would actually take. She quickly explained that this was her “baby” and she was torn. She loved what I did for a living and loved the idea that it would be in my office as a reminder, but hated to part with it. We stood for several minutes in that awkward stage of what to do. Both of us wanted to hold on and relent at the same time.
The paint brush was proudly displayed on the bookshelf of my office first thing this morning.
So, what was my lesson this weekend – never underestimate people or experiences. Don’t underestimate the older gentlemen in the bibbed overalls; He might just have a M.A. in counseling and have a better understanding of you than you do of him. Never underestimate the teen girl in boots; She might be an entrepreneur that’s passionate about organic farming. Never underestimate the artist in the back booth; She might have a piece of art that startles and motivates you.
Most importantly, never underestimate yourself. You might find new hobbies, talents, and passions in places you never expected.