He’s 79 years old. Sprightly would be the best word to describe him. Its certainly the word that came to mind as I walked around the farm with him yesterday.
He carries a walking stick with him, but its not because he needs it to support himself while walking. Rather it’s to lean on as he interacts with all the farmhands, finding out what’s happened overnight, or since his last walkabout. Leaning on it as it sits at a thirty degree angle from the top to the bottom, he looks like the gentleman farmer that he now is.
Meanwhile at half his age I’m struggling to keep up. My exercise is usually heralded by mental preparation of running gear, sneakers, my iPod and step counter calibration. Morning walks up and down the farm, 1.5 clicks to the bottom and the same back again in gumboots are not my foray. But here I find myself, enjoying it thoroughly.
We walk down the hill, striding past the coffee trees as he recounts his life on this farm and its transformation since he acquired it 45 years ago. You can hear the pride in his voice. You can also picture vividly the reality of what it used to look like back then, as he recounts the changes he has made, the improvements and investments.
At the bottom we walk into the sorting area and look around. The machinery is quietly awaiting the next round of berries to churn through after the Christmas break. For now though, it’s quiet, its just his voice sharing the process of the sorting, red, green, buni berries. Only the ripe ones gets pulped he says. He smiles as he realizes how ignorant I am about a process that is as familiar to him as my morning java is to me. Ironic isn’t it? I am a daily consumer of his product but know so little of its journey.
We start walking back up the hill, past the cedars, bottlebrushes and blue gums he planted back in the 80s when he cut a road for his first tractor. He laughs as he leaves me behind, panting as I try to keep up with him on his casual walk uphill. Turns out the walking stick comes in handy for the incline. The city girl clearly loses this round.
He may be 79, but on his farm, in his domain, it’s clear that he holds the youth card. Striding up he is the very epitome of Young At Heart.