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Friday, March 6, 2009

Literary Follies Monologue

First of all, thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Literary Follies at Leslie Hall last Sunday. It was an entertaining afternoon with an eclectic bunch of musical and literary misfits, myself included. I had to rush out after my monologue, as our new horses were in need of some attention. And just in case you were unable to attend, here is what I said.

“Good afternoon, my name is Diana Fisher. As many of you are readers of my column, I thought you might like to know how I came to be the Accidental Farmwife. The story behind the story, so to speak. I was born and raised in Kemptville, and although my family lived in the country, just down the road from a farm, I knew NOTHING about farming. In fact, for the longest time, I thought that 4-H was a dance class, because the only boys in school who knew how to dance – Jim Wiggins and Don Hess – said they got their moves from 4-H.

I ran off and got married at the tender (translation: “stupid”) age of 19, and spent my 20s as a stay-at-home mom with one and then two and then three daughters, in the suburbs. When that marriage ended in 2000, I first moved back home to Kemptville, and then after a few years I up and ran away again – this time to Asia.

Many people say to me, “that must have been an experience.” An experience it was, like no other. For a variety of reasons, some less obvious than others, it was a very difficult experience. But it’s always a good thing, I think, to take yourself completely out of your comfort zone, and to attempt to live in a foreign culture. You learn a lot about other people, but most of all you learn about yourself.

After three years of living in a place where loud music is believed to scare away evil spirits, I longed for the quiet of a country road. After eating strange foods that I could not identify, I craved a fresh garden salad. And after dreaming of the smell of my daughters’ freshly-washed hair and waking up to realize they were still on the other side of the ocean, I decided it was time to come home.

In Taiwan, few people I met would engage me in conversation. That might challenge their English and cause them to “lose face”, which is a very bad thing in their culture. My Chinese is terrible – basically I have restaurant and taxi Mandarin. So I was in my own little world, with my earphones on, with very little public interaction. After that rather insular existence, I found it quite difficult to come out of my shell when I returned to Canada. People had been following my column from Asia so they were coming up to me, looking me in the eye and asking me personal questions. I was experiencing a bit of reverse culture shock. I spent most days walking up and down Beach Road outside my parents’ house, fretting about what to do with my life.

About two months after my repatriation, when a family acquaintance asked me out on a date, I burst into tears. (He will tell you I answered his proposition with a direct “NO”. That’s how he remembers it.)

Anyway, I quickly came to my senses and called that lovely man back. He gave me exactly ten minutes to get ready for our first lunch date – which went very well, by the way.

Just over one year later, we were married. The wedding took place on our 200-acre farm just outside Oxford Mills. It was a perfect day, and the beginning of another wonderful adventure. I settled into life on the farm, and got to know the animals a bit better. As I watched them, I found their personalities beginning to emerge. Now, as a child, I thought it was normal to “talk” for the animals. My parents always did it. (“the dog says he wants to go out”, etc.) Soon I found myself reporting to my husband, “the sheep don’t like Donkey. He’s a bully.” The animals became characters to me. (at this point in the monologue I add my plaid shirt, rubber boots and cowgirl hat to my ensemble, and I am joined onstage by one of my lambs who is looking for his bottle. I continue talking as I feed the lamb)

I had been looking for a new idea for a column. So, a few months later, in October 2007, “The Accidental Farmwife” was born and I found my true calling. The farming life is far more interesting to me than life in a big city, and it’s nice to have a purpose. I like that the farm needs me.

Every day I wake up on the farm and wonder, “what will happen next?” There is never a dull moment. Every week, the animals give me something to write about. And if I can’t think of something, it’s probably because I haven’t been paying attention. If the animals aren’t up to anything, I often write about the other characters around the farm, including Farmer Fisher. Now, keep in mind, the Farmer would like to remain anonymous so if you know who he is, play along or I won’t be allowed to write about him anymore…

I am always pleased to meet people who say they enjoy reading the column, because I love writing it. And it’s getting quite a following. Just the other day I was telling Donkey that I think it’s time we pitched the column to CBC as a radio show. To which he responded, ‘yeah, and then you write a book and Hollywood calls and buys the movie rights and Demi Moore will play the Farmwife, George Clooney will play the Farmer, and the role of Donkey will be played by…himself.’

Thanks for listening – and reading – and enjoy the rest of your day!”


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