If you really know me – really, if you’ve ever listened to anything that’s come out of my mouth in the last few years – you know about the farm. The house was built in the 18-somethings, the barn brought down from the Shaker Village on the mountain behind the fields. It is, as I have come to learn, definitive peace.
It took years to appreciate it as I should. It wasn’t until spending a weekend there was a choice – and a choice I chose to make – that I really got it. It’s the balance of filling every minute, and filling every minute with silence. I try to soak up as much as I can, as often as I can.
This fall, and harvest season, has been no exception.
Saturday morning. The leaves hadn’t really started to turn over yet. I arrive and ask the same question with the same answer I’ve come to expect – “what’s the plan today?” “No plan, Do what you want.” Not true. Mom works in the barn, Dad works in the field. Lunch. Rest. Walk.
The barn is the last phase of learning to get it. I can’t see the horses as anything but heavy, mindless machinery. They are sweet animals, but I don’t know how to communicate with them. They’re horses. I rode one once, and I cried.
Last summer we got ten chicks – one for each of us. I took the red one. John B. I didn’t know – none of us knew – that John B. was actually a boy. John B is now – as far as we know – at a happy farm, just for roosters. May the road rise to meet him.
A ten-minute walk down our fields and into public land – unquestionably referred to to as “down back” – is a trailhead to the Appalachian Trail. I didn’t understand that it was a big deal until learning about the trail as a whole when I was a teenager. I thought it was just where we hiked.
Our little loop runs up a hill in the woods, through a cow pasture, and home by route of the town cemetery. My grandfather – my mom’s dad – is buried there. We duck through the fence, and until it isn’t warm enough to do so, take off our shoes and carry them to the road. The feel of the wild thyme on your bare feet in the summertime is cathartic – something about the herbs fertilized by 400 years of the dead.
Winter is different. Two-hundred years or so of animal hair in the house – most of the last century being a revolving door of shaggy, shedd-y corgis – make for a quick-to-rise stuffy nose after a few hours in the house. Something’s off about the bare trees on the hills.
It’s nice, in it’s own right – but not the same.