Not long after my older daughter learned her colors, she assigned names to our vehicles: My Ford Escape was "Reddy," and my old Ford Escape that had become my husband's farm car was "Whitey." My husband bought a pickup she donned "Bluey." And when I traded "Reddy" in on a Honda CR-V, the new vehicle became "Bluey-Greeny."
This has been going on for a few years, and, despite her now expansive imagination and vocabulary, the names have stuck. There's only one problem: Bluey-Greeny more often than not should be called "Tanny" or "Brownie" or, if we get away from the colors, "Grimy."
We moved to a house on the farm a little more than a year ago. And I love it. It's quieter than anywhere I've ever lived. We get to see the cows every day. We can pop over to see my husband so our girls know he does exist in the daylight.
But the one thing I'm not a fan of is the deep, enduring coat of dirt and who-knows-what-else that builds up on Bluey-Greeny.
In either direction from our house, we have more than 5 miles to go until we hit pavement. That's new for me. Though I grew up on a farm, we lived off a road that had been paved for decades before I came around.
In most ways, I've adjusted. I know to keep a little more food around in case weather keeps us from grocery stores. I know how to handle soggy, slimy, wet gravel roads. I know to stop at the spots with sloughs on either side of the road and let other cars pass rather than risking disaster.
What I don't know is how to keep my vehicle from developing a layer of dirt that probably could be scraped off to fill a children's sandbox.
It's not as if I ever was someone who kept her car sparkling clean. Quite the opposite. But this constant mud and dust coating is taking some getting used to, if only because I can't close the rear door without a shower of dirt raining down into my hair and my eyes and my lungs.
It had gotten pretty bad recently. There was one day with a light drizzle - but not enough to settle the dust. So, as I drove the slightly damp SUV to town, half the soil in the township clung to the sides.
Since I drive to town and back at least twice a day most days, the layers continued to build up until I'm fairly certain the dirt was jumping off the doors and onto my clothes from three feet away. Getting my toddler into her carseat just about required coveralls if I wanted to go into public without looking like Pigpen from the Peanuts gang.
The other day, the sun was shining, and I was driving by a car wash. I stopped and paid for a slightly more expensive wash than usual, thinking maybe it would get a little closer to revealing the actual paint color.
The car wash did its best. We could again call the car Bluey-Greeny. But there remained a film of dust that may or may not have become the base layer of a new coat of dirt that started to accumulate by the time I got home.
There's no point to this story. No lesson or deeper thought, beyond hoping someone gets to work on a paint that repels dirt.
For what it's worth, though, I'll take the dust and dirt and grime. It's a small price to pay to see the stars, to have it be more common to hear a cow mooing than a horn honking and to have our kids grow up on the farm rather than visiting it.