There once was a small town girl, who grew up in a large, loving, Catholic family with seven siblings. She was taught good morals, good manners, to be kind and compassionate and the value of hard work. After a wonderful childhood, she married young and had three beautiful daughters. A not-so-wonderful marriage of 17 years led to divorce, she moved (with her daughters) back into the open arms of her parents to feel safe and get back on her feet.
She worked a dead end job in a factory to have health insurance and waitressed a couple nights a week trying to get caught up. In her late 30's and feeling sorry for herself, she was persuaded to attend her 20th class reunion where she was reacquainted with the man of her dreams - her high school crush. He had dated one of her best friends all through their high school years, which had made him forbidden fruit. It was love again at first sight.
She remarried and became a potato farmer's wife, doing office work, fieldwork, windrowing and taking in the fresh country air. The farmer introduced her to many new people. He took her to meetings, seminars and conventions where her outgoing personality and chatterbox mouth landed her a column in Spudman magazine, and "As the Crow Flies" was the result.
She worked faithfully for the family farm as her husband grew restless - wanting to get out on his own. A few years passed as he acquired enough land to start his farm. She stayed on until the tragic death of their niece. Then everything changed. The family farm downsized and she went to work with her husband as their farm grew larger. It was a difficult transition not having her normal routine but she adjusted as did everyone else involved.
Winters were no longer so busy. No more grading potatoes and working on potato equipment for him. No more semi loads or office work for her. They found time to travel to warmer climates - she hated being cold. They made time to learn to golf and to get her the car of her dreams. There were grandchildren to cherish. Her focus had changed and writing was moved to a back burner - no longer exciting. So she's passing the torch.
Seriously, the past 13 years of my life have taken me on quite a ride! I've grown, I've learned and I've grieved and never forgotten the value of hard work along the way. I've thoroughly enjoyed writing this column and greatly appreciated all of the feedback. I may drop by for a visit every now and then, but for now, I say goodbye and thank you for reading. (I do hope there is time to drive my car around the countryside.)
—By Lisa Shafel, who farms with her husband, Jim, and his family in Antigo and Bryant, Wis.