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  • Writer's pictureTina

True Freedom

I hope, dear reader, you had a safe, happy, fun-filled, enjoyable holiday. We spent our day doing what we love in a beautiful setting with people we love. The Bibbed Wonder and I spent the morning atop Blueberry Hill bom-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum. It’s now stuck in your head, too; you’re welcome. No, seriously, we spent our Fourth of July at Stutuzman’s Blueberry Farm on top of the hill overlooking a gorgeous lake and what felt like high up in the clouds. It was a lovely day spent together with really, really good people. I realized that we experience true freedom every day. We get to do what we love in the place we love with the people we love. It doesn’t get any more free than that.

I have actually known the Stutzman family my entire life. They attended the church of my childhood. I remember Ralph and Harold Stutzman being (what I deemed as a child) important men in the church. I’m not sure what role they played in reality, but as a child, they seemed very tall, very serious, and someone one should be on their best behavior around. I also can remember conversations about The Stutzman Farm, although I don’t remember what context those conversations occurred.

I also remember Scott Stutzman being a handsome and smiling young man who created quite a buzz when he became engaged to a beautiful young southern woman named Susan. As a child, I can remember sitting in church, looking at the back of Susan’s head, thinking; I hope I am beautiful like she is when I grow up. As time passed, Scott and Susan brought new babies into the world, and I watched tiny babies become adorable little girls. I remember the girls as one was always smiling and very happy with light brown hair, and the other was quieter with dark hair like her mom.

I became a self-absorbed teenager; my family left the church, and my memories of the Stutzman family faded. I grew up, moved away, and thought fondly of the Stutzman family when I would make rare trips to Ebensburg, passing their farm on Route 422. They became distant memories in the fabric of my childhood until Abbey June Becker reached out to us inquiring about our products for her family’s blueberry farm stand.

No longer a smiling little girl with big energy, Abby June (I always call her Abby June in my head because I love her name and it fits her so well) is now a beautiful young woman with a gorgeous spirit, big energy, incredible ideas, with the work ethic of ten, and a smile bright enough to light up a room. Abby June has become one of my favorite people to work with, and I so enjoy talking with her. I look forward to summer partly because I hope Abby June will return to her family farm for another blueberry season, and I will briefly see her.

Abby June was kind enough to invite us to her family’s blueberry farm for a small pop-up market on the Fourth of July. I must admit, we did not jump at the invitation. Actually, I believe The Bibbed Wonder intercepted the invite and failed to pass it along because he knew the outcome. You see, dear reader, being introverts, it’s hard for us to leave the serenity of our farm, interrupt our routine, and put ourselves out there. It really is a challenge, and I find the older I get, the quieter, more introverted I become. It has become very comfortable to remain here with little social interaction. However, when Abby June stopped by to pick up her order for the farmstand, she invited me face to face. My initial response was, “Let me look at our calendar, and I’ll get back to you.”

Meanwhile, I could see my bib overall-wearing buddy beginning to twitch and tick off the small jobs he was hoping to accomplish on a day uninterrupted with soap activities. We rarely have a day that does not involve soap, but we do make exceptions on major holidays. However, a day off is not really a day off. It is a day spent trying to accomplish everything else we need to get done but put off because we have soap duties. He could see his plans for the day dissipating as the conversation continued, and he realized his attempt to keep me out of the loop was foiled. Abby left, and I told her as she was leaving, I would get back to her, giving my bib overall-wearing buddy the stink eye all the while.

As soon as the door was closed, Eric said, “I didn’t tell you because you laid on the couch for a week dying. I figured you wouldn’t be up to it.” Although I believe it was more of an excuse than concern, I did lay on the couch for a week with a fever of 102 for three days feeling like I wanted to die. I’m unsure if it was the flu or a flare of whatever I have going on, but I was sicker than I’ve been in quite a while. My response was, “We are going. It’s Abby June. We’re going.” Eric sighed a long sigh and said, “Fine. You're right.” End of conversation. I messaged Abby June, told her we would be attending as vendors, and greatly looked forward to seeing her and her farm, and I meant it.

As much as I stress about in-person events, I was excited for the day once we got there and got set up. We could not have asked for a more perfect day. The scenery was gorgeous; we supported a wonderful family and a small local business and met some great people. Sam and Zeek from Sam Jam Creative were our neighbors. We met Josh and Wendi from Yellow Creek Gardens, who make the most amazingly scented sachets. I met Kate from Commonplace Coffee and Nicki from Whisk and Wildflowers. I was introduced to many new people with such amazing talent. It was a good day. Not only did I get to meet new talented small business owners, but I also got to see our local soap family. As we moved through the day, I wondered to myself why doing events makes me so uncomfortable. I genuinely enjoyed myself, the people, and the day.

Aside from getting caught in a downpour at the end of the day and being eaten alive by tiny biting flies, the day was wonderful. Eric and I went home, chatting about what a nice event it was, how many wonderful people we met, catching up with some of our favorite people, and what a great family the Stutzmans are and the beauty of their farm. We feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in our world and get to do what we love together. Yesterday was a reminder of why we do what we do, and we appreciate everyone who includes us and supports us. It’s the epitome of freedom to be able to do what one loves with the people one loves.

On this lovely July 5th, stay safe, be smart, appreciate the freedoms, stop saying “no” to amazing opportunities because they make you uncomfortable, remember it’s important to support your chosen community and keep washing your hands.

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