On this particular Sunday we take an unknown gravel path. While we’ve set out for the cotton fields that line Beaver Dam Church Road, Andrew notices an off-shoot trailing behind the Baptist church.
A reaped field shoulders us on the right side as we pass two small, white houses; the second one with a front porch and green roof, older and sturdier than the first. Rounding a curve away from the field, the road ends on what appears to be the property of the old house.
Four barn structures stand there. The one to our right is open-air, big plows and mowers under its cover. The other three nestle together in the left corner of the home’s backyard, one has a new door that contrasts the weathered wood. A rusted fire pit sits in the middle of the yard and tree stumps surround it. Andrew notices that the wood is recently burnt, although fallen leaves hide it. The trees have turned salmon and gold, and the late afternoon is crisp on our noses.
We retrieve ourselves from a languishing wonder and follow the road that winds roughly through the property, stopping to admire the grandest brown cows either of us have ever seen.
And then suddenly, rising like vomit in my throat, I feel strangely compelled to share something. As Andrew and I start into the woods, I launch a lengthy monologue about how badly I wish I were keeper and lover of a piece of land like this:
“It’s just that, it always seems so unrealistic to think about these things in our society. People don’t up and leave ‘real jobs’ to cultivate a piece of land. They don’t forfeit comfortable circumstances to live off faith and gardens. I mean, I just feel it somewhere down in me that this is what I hope for… But it’s hard for me to realize that other people don’t hope for this kind of thing.
Most people’s dream isn’t to give up a contemporary life in order to live like the frontier. It seems like most people want to make a lot of money and live in fancy homes and afford European vacations. I want a little of piece of wilderness where our friends and family can come and eat real food and walk around in the woods and turn off their computers and shut down their phones.
I want to plant and I want to pick and I want to rub holes in my jeans crawling around on my knees yanking green things out of the ground. I want some kind of rollicking home to put all our visitors up and some kind of laughing kitchen to feed them dinner in.
I want to grudgingly wake up at 5:30 to milk moaning cows for that morning’s cream. I just keep thinking about collards simmering on the stove and fireplaces and Bible readings.
I want to wake up for something real. It’s like every day I go to work and sort of do something. I try to envision the millions of people in offices, computing crap for other made-up things that humans created. A colossal phantasmagoria of our actual existence.
The earth is real; the scratchy bark of giant trees is real; fat brown cows grazing in that field over there, that’s real; our hands and our feet and the dusty ground beneath them is real. I cannot touch the internet or investments or stock exchanges or numbers running in systems configured by computer geniuses. Do I still love and appreciate the computer genius? Yes, I want him to come to my farm house for collard greens!”
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