The road turns to gravel three miles south of the driveway entrance. Fine, limestone dust, routinely pulverized by heavy half-ton farm trucks, rolls itself airborne at the slightest disturbance of hot prairie winds. It wafts, not unlike your perfume, through car interior and settles into every cracked crevice tinier than eyes can see.
You slacken on the gas, hoping and praying to stir up less ever-present dirt clouds threatening to surround. No use. Bobby S. passes you doing 60 mph going south, proud as a peacock in his new red Dodge Ram, spitting bits of gravel toward your windshield as he goes. Shit.
He's a good neighbor though. He and his pa helped out all last winter when your cows were calving, the blizzard hit, and you were down with pneumonia. They even fixed that section of fence, unasked, without expecting a cent.
It's OK. You'll be paying them back real soon with your own blood, sweat, and tears when haying season starts. That's what neighbors do.
You notice Mom's hung laundry on the line as you turn slowly into the drive. It's gravel too, but the thought of fresh, clean sheets on the bed tonight justifies the little extra effort you make now to keep the dust down. Nothing better than that first whiff of fresh, clean, sun-dried sheets. Well, not many things anyway.
The back patio, already starting to shade from the late afternoon sun, looks mighty inviting. It'll have to wait - just like the chores did which now need tending - which got put off while you ran to town for supplies when the mower quit.
Two hours later you hear the dinner bell peal loud and clear across the yard. You finish putting fresh straw in the hen house, finding five eggs scattered in the brooders favorite nests. Good eating tomorrow for breakfast, plus a couple left over for cake. Nice.
Long before you reach the back door screen, loose in the bottom left corner, the savory smell of pork chops frying drives itself deep into your expanding lungs. Stomach grumbles, saliva flows, and you realize just how much of an appetite you've worked up through the labor of your hands.
The door swings in easy. An overhead kitchen light is off to damp the heat, but sunshine slanting in the west window, coupled with the bulb over the range and the lamp on the table, reveal the heart of this space. Table set for five, iced tea at the ready, biscuits mounded in a basket to the side.
Your haul of eggs gets placed carefully in the container on the counter top. You turn to head to the bathroom and as you do, catch your Momma's smile. She's a beautiful woman who knows how to love well.
You hum a favorite tune as you wash up with every present Ivory soap, stomach growling more loudly every second.
Life on the farm is hard, but life on the farm is good. Welcome home.