This morning, when I went out to feed the animals at first light (the end of Daylights Savings doesn’t mean an extra hour on a farm.), the wind was coming in billows from the field behind the farmhouse. If an illustrator was drawing the scene, she would have sketched a woman in a Doctor Who bathrobe, goats bucking up on hind legs, white fluffy puppies spinning in circles, and chickens with fluffy feathers. Two kittens would have been tucked on the porch with 3 feline heads in an upstairs window, and a red-headed dog would have peeked out from the inside of the dining room window. The wind would have been spirals dancing with leaves.
Some days it really does feel like idyllic here.
This week, I joined our local Chamber of Commerce, and the staff person there – Tracey – and I are fast friends, swapping road names and the sad news of a terrible car wreck over by Oak Park. At the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office, the clerk takes our agricultural land use documents and cautions me, “No copies when you turn them in for the future,” and smiles as she says it.
As I leave the county offices in my long skirt, hand-crocheted sweater, and yarn-covered Dankos, I walk by the cluster of old-timers who farm this land. They nod and ask where I live. “The Old Tucker Place in Radiant.” It’s like the small walls of difference disintegrate when they smile at me. They know from where I hail.
I feel more at home in this community than I have in any I’ve lived in – except perhaps at home with my dad – for many, many years. Here, I feel like I can be my own quirky, artistic, farmerly self and that my way of being in the world will not only be respected but also cherished. Here, history speaks in the very home in which we sit and on the roads on which we drive. The faces and names of this place are hundreds of years old, and because the families are long-lived on this land, their stories carry forward, too.
Yesterday, we began work on the space that will become my office and that was, I believe, the original kitchen of the house. As I swept the wide pine boards of the floor, I thought of the enslaved women who cooked there, and I wondered if their descendants still live nearby. As Dad tossed down antique shoe after antique shoe from the attic above, I tried to picture the cobbler – enslaved or free – who saved those shoes for future use.
We treasure those shoes, those memories, those imaginings here because they are – already – part of who we are. We honor them even as we make our own stories in this place.
It’s a hard thing, sometimes, to live firmly in the 21st century with a wide heart and open mind, to honor the old ways without honoring the old prejudices, to embrace new technology (solar panels?) while also respecting a homesite that already speaks to security and the windbreaks of surrounding hills.
This morning, I was reminded of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and all that makes those stories so precious – personalities respected, homes carved into that which makes us most whole, and friendships deep and long despite differences. If God’s Whisper can be a bit like Pooh Corner, we could do far worse.