Down on the farm

September 16th, 2009

It didn’t take long before we were in each others’ pockets; it’s the boys, mostly, who promote this by running up Grossmütti’s walk and through her front door at all hours. They want to play with Grossmütti, and they want to play with her dog, and they have made their grandparents’ house an extension of their own.

I see my brother-in-law J more than ever, just about every day in fact, and hear myself inviting him to dinner. The Boychen has fallen utterly and completely in love with his uncle’s horses (the first words out of his mouth in the morning, after his brother’s name, are “Lay-dee. App-uh.” and he will not rest until we have brought apples to the horses) and J is kind and patient and gentle explaining the horses, showing the boys how to hold out an apple flat on your palm with your fingers close together and bending towards the ground. The boys sit on the steps and watch their uncle lead the horses from their stalls to the pasture to graze; they help him give them their hay in the evenings. They become part of his routine and he accepts these little boys running tag behind him.

But it’s not just the boys knitting these houses together. It’s me, too. Half-way through cooking dinner one night I discover that I don’t have any tomato paste and I send R over to his parents’ house to borrow some. When my mother-in-law goes away for a weekend, I invite my father-in-law to dinner. Sometimes the boys and I eat lunch over there. This morning I sat in their living room and watched the Bundesratswahl (election of a new member of the seven-member cabinet that heads the Swiss Parliament) with them. They knock on our door for something, I go in search of J about a truck that has arrived to pick up a construction container. We borrow their car when I break the driver’s side rear-view mirror on ours, I ask them if they need anything when I make a dash to the grocery.

I’m enjoying this, this being part of an extended family, learning how to do it for the first time in my life. I like getting to know my brother-in-law. After being married to R for a few weeks shy of ten years now, I feel like I am finally getting to know his brother. I’ve seen him nearly weekly for years, at Sunday dinner or Sunday brunch, but this is different somehow, this calling out hello as The Boychen and I take our morning tour around the farm, this watching him muck out the stalls, drive the fork-lift back and forth to organize the barn, this seeing him come and go and live his life. 

I love seeing my sons with their grandparents. I love that they can have this, their grandparents across the drive, their uncle a huge part of their lives, and through them a connection to the rest of R’s family – cousins in his mother’s home village – that I would never, on my own, cultivate. Two weeks ago I sat with my mother-in-law in the garden of R’s aunt, with one of R’s cousins and her children, and Small Boy played with his first cousins and chattered happily in Swiss and I was happy to be there, part of this big messy family. To my great surprise, I am having such a good time getting all tangled up with this big messy family.