Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It wasn't until a few years ago that I really truly experienced the long evenings of Spring leading into Summer. I made a regular habit after work of going fishing at a little conservation area near Platte City. Each evening I would change out of my work clothes and get dressed in my fishing clothes, grab my tackle and go. Each evening I would fish until the last light, leaving just enough light to walk through the woods back to my car.
There was something special about those evenings, long, liquid twilight enjoying the cool of the evening and the feeling of being away from the work-a-day world. I don't remember any of the fish I caught. I do remember the quality of the evening light, the feel of the evening as it cooled down and the walk back to the car through the woods after a evening of hard fishing.
I can say that I experienced for the first time the lengthening of days and the amber light of those long twilights. That was more than 7 years ago, yet it still remains with me. When we discard our clocks and our indoor lights and turn to nature and its rhythms we become richer for it.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
|Turtles Crossing the Road|
On our recent trip to the Ozarks, one of our goals was to visit Sue Hubbell's old farm. Sue lived on the farm in the 1970's and 1980's where she wrote the book A Country Year about her life on the farm. Its one of my favorite books. When she moved, the farm was bought by the Missouri Department of Conservation and included into the Barn Hollow Conservation and Natural Area. I had found directions to the conservation area and so off we went.
The area is located just 3 miles north of Mountain View, Missouri. We found the intersection where the directions told us to begin and I my heart dropped to find that it sported a Walmart and a McDonalds. Progress had flowed right up to the doorstep of this idyllic land that Sue described. This was not what I had imagined I'd find. I was looking for the tranquil country life that Sue described in her book and what I got was cheap goods and cheap food.
|The Little Pond|
|The Barn Hollow Overlook|
I was still bothered by the encroachment of civilization on this eden but felt the peace that places like this bring. As I was looking over the map of the conservation area I noticed that the entrance we had entered was on the south side and that on the north side was another entrance that had a house and an out-building marked on the map. This portion of the map looked familiar. The I realized that it was just like the map in Sue's book A Country Year. Then it dawned on me that the the trail we explored was south of Sue's farm and that her farm was actually on the north side of the conservation area, a twenty minute circuitous drive through narrow back roads. The story I had been telling myself about what I saw wasn't about her land or the book.
So after lunch Amy and I drove the twenty minute drive down increasingly narrow gravel roads following the twists and turns deeper into time to Sue Hubbell's farm. Just before you come to a gate and sign indicating the private property of the VFW Camp mentioned in Sue's book there is a turn off with an unmarked blue gate. The yellow Missouri Department of Conservation signs had been torn down and only a small piece of the sign was left laying in the gravel road to give a clue to the identification of this place.
|The Entrance to Sue's Old Place|
I had gotten the story wrong. I had recalled Sue's memories of her life on a farm and put them in a place that wasn't her place. I had felt that progress had intruded on her eden even though it really had changed anything about the natural area we first explored nor the area that was Sue's old home. Then I realized its the story we tell that's important. We can tell a story that includes frequent trips to the Walmart's and McDonald's of the world or we can tell another story. The story that recalls the time of day when the catbird calls, or the comings and goings of a fox and her kits or the time when you find a little peace in nature. The place could be in the middle of the city or right next to a Walmart. We can choose to tell a story of the life along the creek or the life of commerce in the local big box store. Its the story we tell and remember that matters.
|Give Me the Back Roads|