Monday, March 08, 2010

Things I've learned on the farm: the "howdy" wave

When I was preparing to marry a farmer, I really, really, really thought that farming was an occupation. Like any other occupation. It was no different than marrying a dentist, or an accountant, or a bell boy.

I was in for some culture shock.

Farming is a way of life, not just an occupation. It is like a whole little sub-culture out here in the sticks. My life in town with neighbors 10 feet from my back door is long gone. I've learned about 45,000 things since becoming a farmer's wife. I have a lot of catching up to do because country kids know the difference between a New Holland and a John Deere before they can walk. I just learned the difference when I was about 25 years old.

During my first summer season on the farm, I began to notice my husband waving at vehicles he passed on the rural roads around the farm. I didn't know who these people were. I would ask, "Who's that?" Sometimes he would respond with "That's Big John," or "One of Horton's crew," and sometimes he said, "I have no idea, it's just what you do."

The wave. Of course I wanted to fit in, so I started waving at everyone I saw when I was in my little green Jetta. If I was on the road and you happened to pass me, watch out.


(Please note: the dinner plate serves as the steering wheel in this reenactment)

I didn't realize there is a technique along with subtle nuances that turn a good "howdy" wave into "what the heck is wrong with that city girl? There must be a bee in her car."

It took me years of practice to master the wave. Let me share with you the secret, to spare you the embarrassment I've faced.  The secret is not to lift your hand from the steering wheel, just the four fingers on top of the wheel. Sort of a salute.


It's not fool proof. You must also learn to control your expression. Play it cool instead of conveying, "I haven't seen another person in 14 days, I'm desperate for human interaction. You complete my existence."

Don't shake your fingers around in a faux wave. It is too much. For this kind of energy, consider starting a blog. It worked wonders for me.


(Not for use within the city limits)

Move hand to top of steering wheel and lift just 4 fingers. Include a head nod, if you dare. A head nod says, "Ya, I belong. You belong. We all belong. Howdy neighbor."

These days I drive a minivan and still don't blend well in the country. I pull out my "Howdy" wave only for vehicle/drivers I recognize from a distance. My main occupation here on the farm is meal delivery service to the stars and child care provider to the future farm hands of america. If I am needed and those in charge want to risk me driving some valuable farm vehicle, I wave at all other farm vehicles. It is what you do. I blend. It is beautiful.

Until next time when talk about the art of watermelon seed spitting and corn husking.



Michelle Ross said...

Hey! I know the Howdy wave! Our version in the burbs is like so:

-do not change expression (minor purse of the lips is acceptable).
- lift arm slightly, showing palm.
- as hand reaches apex, nod.

I use this commonly while driving to signal a pedestrian that's waiting to walk that I won't smash into them. It seems to give them courage! :)

Tawny said...

Funniest blog this year. That is a crack up, my dear Alysun. You fit in with me, even if your wave is exuberant.

Anonymous said...

I love it! I'm still trying to time my wave so it doesn't get 'lost' in the frame of the car; thus making people think I'm not waving at all! The pictures totally made this post come alive :)

Anonymous said...

Arg. I'm too used to FB...that comment was from me, Jill :)

joyq said...

I am from MT. One of the dead giveaways: I give a "howdy" wave to every car I pass. Even in Portland. I have carpal tunnel. Help.

Anonymous said...

Love the pics. You had me laughing!I think I can picture Jim doing this "wave" from when we were kids.

Sherri said...

you are too funny! Just think of all we are missing...

Alyce said...

I grew up in the country and learning the finger lift wave was one of the first things I learned how to do driving. :) Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating how quickly I incorporated it into my driving routine, but I did wave to everyone on our country road. I had to get used to not doing it when I moved into town for the first time (when I was in college).

Stacy said...

We have a "howdy wave" here in DC too, but its called the "you-idiot-learn-to-drive wave" It comes with a honking horn & a wave in response (which I can't demonstrate).

Cathy said...

I think the country howdy wave is universal...out in the country, that is! We do that here too. We do have a neighbor, though, who will always have both hands on the wheel and instead of four fingers going up, he'll just put the first two up...yes, the ol' peace sign, baby. (He hasn't been here as long as the rest of us.) :-)

Linds and Manda said...

Thank you for making me laugh...and so early in the day! You have a great way with words. Liam was playing beside me as I read and laughed so he came up to the computer, saw your first picture and promptly said, "oh, brother!" I must say, my response maybe was a little more what you were going for. I also feel that I have had to learn the art of the wave living in rural Saskatchewan. I know, I know, you're thinking she's making the distinction of "rural" saskatchewan...isn't it all rural! :) I do love the plate effect as well. Nice work. Miss you.

Grace said...

Best post yet! Love everything about it!

Shawna said...

I remember these waves from when I would visit my Dad during the Summers in Modoc County, Alturas (boonies). They did the "one finger" (wait, the index finger only I should say). I used to think he was so popular then as I grew older I realized it was just the thing to do. :-)

When I started driving a Miata the year they came out, I realized the thing to do was to flash your lights (blink them up and down) whenever you saw another Miata. I later learned Jeep people are even more crazy about the 'wave'.

I love the visuals and thanks for explaining the plate. At first I thought you were celebrating how clean your kitchen was!

Thanks for the crack up!

The Cowgirl's Typewriter said...

Haha. This blog made me chuckle. Thanks for the instruction. If I happen to marry a farmer I will know just how to wave.

Sara said...

Love it! Great post!

PS) Your kitchen looks immaculate! Mine never looks THAT clean unless company is coming over. =)

Kari said...

my hubby and I just had a great laugh over this because I experienced the same thing. I was in such shock he "waved" at practically everyone, but he does restrain himself in town.

Melanie said...

How did I miss this post??!? Hilarious! And I love the illustrations!