Updated: Apr 9
By Kim Carr:
For a Mid-Missouri farm girl, it’s hard to believe that this time last week, I was trying to catch my breath as I attempted to climb a mountain. No, I wasn’t all tricked out in gear hanging from a rope and carabiner with a climbing axe in hand. However, for me—someone who rarely travels far beyond the farm—it was just as exciting as I hiked the Mist Trail along the Merced River in Yosemite National Park in California. Yes, I was on vacation, and that’s a word seldom used in my vocabulary. I was visiting my friends Barb and John McCormick, who moved to Scotts Valley, California, about seven years ago from Columbia, Missouri.
Barb and I were on a four-day journey in the middle of my visit to see and enjoy Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite. Never had I been to a national park and never did I think I would get to go on such an adventure. With all the beautiful sites that I saw, one thing that really stood out to me was the people. I know, what an odd thing to have stand out when surrounded by towering trees, jagged hills that stretch into the sky, and crisp, clear rumbling waters; but during my travels on this most wonderful vacation, the people I met and were surrounded by really did make a lasting impression. A good impression.
In today’s world, we are often bombarded with the negative, whether it’s in the news, on social media, the radio, or even in conversation; it can get dark and weigh heavy. For me, I choose to live life as an optimist. My glass is always half full if not overflowing. Sometimes I think that perhaps I have created a utopia by surrounding myself with like-minded folks that have similar likes and dislikes. My circle of friends are people who I admire and respect, people who I treasure for their similarities and their differences. Let’s face it, if everyone was just like me, well, that would be boring. I wonder sometimes if I’m just living life looking through a pair of rose-colored glasses. I see the good in people, and I believe in their power to make life better for themselves and those around them just by being who they are. Would this still be true if I went outside my circle, beyond the Missouri state line?
Without even thinking about it, I left my rose-colored glasses behind. Good thing, as I found out airport security doesn’t like cargo shorts. Even though I had emptied the dozen or so items I had conveniently packed away in them, I was treated to a pat down. Admittedly, the TSA agents were very friendly and quickly sent me on my way.
On the fully booked plane, I was fortunate to find a window seat all the way in the back. A husband and wife had already claimed the aisle and middle seat, leaving me with the primo spot. I don’t get to travel often, so when I do, I want to see everything and anything that I can from that tiny little window in the sky. I never got the strangers’ names, but we chatted off and on throughout the flight. She and her husband were traveling with a group of friends from Pittsburgh to catch a Steelers game in California. Although I know nothing of football, it sounded like a pretty cool group of friends. I shared my overpriced bag of M&M’s with her as we both missed having lunch before boarding. The nice thing I’ve learned about Southwest, they now pass out a bag of Fritos, a bag of pretzels, and a bag of cookies, as well as a drink. So that was lunch enough for me. As we departed the plane, she wished me a wonderful visit with my friends, and I told her I hoped the Steelers would win. She smiled a huge smile and waved goodbye as she joined a mass of black-and-yellow clad people gathered in the waiting area.
I first visited my friends at their home in Scotts Valley two years ago. My return seemed as if only a month or two had passed. Their home was familiar, comfortable, and cozy, plus there’s Mulligan the dog, which makes everything exponentially better no matter what. My friends treated me like royalty. Let’s not even mention the meals, which each consisted of all my favorite foods cooked to perfection with love. It was a treat to watch Barb and John in the kitchen as they made and served pancakes from scratch, handmade pizza dough with my favorite toppings, homemade applesauce . . . the list goes on, and the table settings—it was like a party every meal!
The first few days in sunny California, we hung around Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. I had asked if we could return to the Farmers Market at Cabrillo College. My first visit in 2017 had left a lasting impression. I was not disappointed as we sampled a variety of local plums. For anyone who knows me, this is not my norm. I am not a fruit or veggie eater, but I had a fresh plum two years ago that was one of the sweetest, most delicious plums ever. I waited two years to have another. This time we stocked up.
I enjoyed plums, nectarines, and the biggest grapes you’ve ever seen during my trip. Barb even packed me a take-home sack, so I still have one plum left that I will indulge in soon.
The thing I like most about the Farmers Market is all the people. They are happy people. You have honest, hard-working farmers bringing their goods to the people, and then you have customers who appreciate fresh, direct-from-the-farm produce. The colors, sounds, and smells of the market make me happy. Seeing mounds of artichokes, green beans, and bundles of flowers being sold in an open-air market, all the friendly chatter, it does a body good. If you are ever feeling down, visit a Farmers Market, it’s bound to lift your spirits.
Another place I wanted to revisit was the Canham Farm Horse Rescue and Rehab where my friends have volunteered for the last couple years. It made me feel good to get in with a horse and muck its stall out. How amazing to be around these magnificent animals; it’s calming and invigorating at the same time. To see these animals that have been taken in and given a second chance at life is heartwarming, to say the least. However, none of this would be possible if it were not for the giant heart of Julia Hyde and her devoted volunteers. Once again, I am humbled by the kindness of the human spirit. On this visit, I was honored to meet two newly rescued wild mustang mares, Ruby and Cleo. Both girls were adopted from a wild horse roundup. Both were pregnant when they were saved by Julia, and both successfully gave birth to healthy babies since being at Canham Farm. Talk about goosebumps: how often will I get the chance to stand with such powerful animals as they trust me to move about with them as their babies run and kick their heels into the air to show off their grace, or lack of grace, as they sprint from one end of the dirt arena to the other? Exhilarating. But again, it is the goodness of people that made this moment possible. Thank you to Julia and all the kindhearted people in the world that rescue, care for, and love animals as I do. Who would think that spending time on vacation cleaning horse stalls would be so rewarding, but what an honor to be able to give back in some small manner. I’m thankful my friends give of their time to help these animals in need and that I’ve had the opportunity to give a little of my time. Last year, I was able to purchase several items for the horses through an Amazon campaign that was available online at Christmas time. It was a lot of fun picking out Christmas presents for the horses such as brushes, shampoo, and riding pads. If you are interested in helping with the efforts to rehab and rehome these horses in need, please visit www.canhamfarm.com.
Continues the Beyond the Farm Gates adventure: Part 2
Kim Carr is a photographer and mid-Missouri hobby farmer who has combined her love for the country life with that of natural-light photography. Her work reflects my commitment to sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of all animals. To learn more about Kim, read her interview with Elizabeth Gracen here.
To purchase Kim's photography, visit her website.