I sit on my front porch and I am surrounded by land that belongs to me. I live on a farm. It’s an awesome, and still surprising, realization. I’m raising dairy goats for milk, chickens for eggs, cats for…. Never mind the cats. I love the way our farm’s boundaries are defined in the old deed book at the county courthouse.
“Beginning at the road in the Schoolhouse lot, thence with the road of the ford of the run above the mill, thence back in the field about six rods to or near a small black walnut, thence to or just above the white walnut at the spring in the drain, thence just above and with the meanderings of the fence now around the upper side of the lot to a small sugar tree by the old fence going up to the cliff, thence with the creek to the branch below the ford….” And so on and so forth, including references to a pile of rocks, a stump hole and a dead hickory tree. Need I point out that of course most of these landmarks no longer exist? There is an iron pin referred to in the deed book that remains, as well as some survey flags in a few spots that were placed some years ago. We relied on the prior owners’ directions as to boundaries and the neighbors have been agreeable to the designations. Just being in possession of forty acres feels staggering to me–it is far more acreage than we will actually utilize, but the privacy it affords is one of its most important aspects.
I can walk and walk and get tired and still be on my own land. In suburban life, the perspective is more focused on the house and the yard. There is something so significant about land. Not its value in money, but its sheer substance. There is a weight to it, some kind of primal quality that is ethereal and tangible all at once. It has a life of its own, the land does. It teems with trees and springs, a creek and a river, wildflowers and vines, birds and chipmunks, raccoons and deer. It has lots of secrets I don’t know yet, and many I won’t ever know. It welcomes me and protects me, and it often exhausts me and sometimes scares me. It mostly tolerates me, though it will kill my car if it takes a notion. It expects me to know more than I do.
But it is also very patient with me. Land is longsuffering. It knows it isn’t going anywhere. It was here before I arrived and it will be here when I’m gone.
Honestly, it’s kinda uppity that way, don’t you think?