The following post was written by a coworker and close friend, Debby Merritt. She had shared it with me recently, having come across it in her papers, and I asked if I could use it as a guest post in my blog. I am honored that Debby said yes.
We differed on whether the third word from the end of the second paragraph should be "furried" (her choice) or "furred" (my choice). In a nod to Humpty Dumpty admonishing Alice in Through the Looking Glass ("When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.") and a salute to Lewis Carroll, who made up words when no others fit ('Twas brillig and the slithy toves...), I'm using her preferred choice.
I love this piece because it evokes strong memories in me of my childhood, especially on the farm my grandparents had when I was a child.
Debby wrote this piece some years ago, and there continue to be many changes in the immediate vicinity of her house. While Debby and I differ on many (oh heck, most) issues politically, I agree with her observations about the price of "progress."
Enjoy. And thank you, Debby.
Since the late 1880s, there have been only three houses on our road. Every day from inside his old henhouse, my rooster signals morning. It is reminiscent of a time when sleep was determined by daylight and dark, and not by "Good Morning America" and the late night news.
In the afternoon, anticipating their late day milking, neighboring cows begin to wind their way from the woods toward the barn. Watching them is like looking at a centuries old painting. At night, they are our sentinels, mooing at interlopers both furried and not.
In the heat of the summer, my attic bedrooms smell like the hams and bacon that years ago hung from the rafters. That aroma reminds me of waking in my grandma's farmhouse to the sounds of corn cobs and sticks poured into a clanking wood stove, fresh eggs popping and bacon curling in a big iron skillet.
Each spring, groaning beneath layers of sweet black fruit, mulberry trees play host to opossums, raccoons, and other critters gorging themselves. Sometimes at night, caught in my headlights, baby raccoons scramble for safe branches to continue their feast. Their little bandit faces make it impossible for me to interrupt their banquet.
Later than most farmers, crops across the road are planted in fields fertilized by friendly cows. The farmer's old, lumbering tractor often hesitates and then stops dead. After a few adjustments, the engine backfires and percolates as it struggles down the row. These are sounds long forgotten in many parts of Delaware County.
Other modern, sprayed, and debugged fields seem more affected by drought and heat. Our farmer's corn is as high as an elephant's eye and as dense as a forest. Franklin Park Conservatory spent a fortune creating its corn maze. Our road has one every year.
I feel at home here. It is how things used to be. It is the solitude that Merton described in his essays. Thoughts are incoming and outgoing, not forced or contrived. There is no need to feel time is short and become harried consumers rushing to give our children happiness underneath the golden arches.
This road could outlast the politicians and the projected growth patterns, but every day places like it with their lands and heritage die. They pass into a fast paced abyss, a place where a road is measured only by how many cars it can carry and how much shopping can line its sides.
With malls and a commute faster than the speed of sound becoming eminent domain issues, I doubt that roads like ours will endure. So for as long as I have it, I will enjoy it, and when they come with their bulldozers and blacktop, I will mourn it, for we all will have lost something worth everything: our past, our present, and our future.