Sitting alone in the woods with the two monastery dogs, Banjo and Oriole, I gaze out in the distance, they are good company and seem to have taken a vow of silence like me. From the hill I look over the tops of the trees attempting to show their early spring radiance. I can see Lake Keystone as the sun beats down on the back of my neck reminding me that it won’t be spring for long. Before you can say “hotter than hell”, it will be.
Hiking and climbing over the huge boulders I do something I have not done in a very long time, I smell the earth. It takes me back to a time when I was much closer to the earth, the land, the country, and I am grateful for my awakening senses. For a while I am home.
I country grew up in the country. Not so much in a small town, although that was part of it, but most of my time was spent out in the country. Our home was in the country, my families’ livelihood came from the country, our nurturing was grounded in the country and part of my soul lingers there still.
The country is inclusive, and extends solace to all. It’s gifts are the healing sight of pastures and farm ponds, the touch of green grass, a soft blanket of needles under foot through the pines, the smell of freshly cut hay, the whiny of horses, and the feel of a humid breeze on your face. And nothing occludes the stars from your vision when you are in the country, a tonic for city worn eyes.
The end of the day did not find me with friends at the Dairy Freeze when I was in school; I was in the country feeding cattle. My brother and I had a little cattle company when we were kids, the “M&K Cattle Company”. I’m still pissy that it wasn’t named the “K&M Cattle Company”; after all, I was older and infinitely wiser. (my version) This joint venture provided biology lessons, finance 101, daily workouts, precious time with a treasured sibling, and opened us to the dire truth of forgoing something we liked for something better.
In the country folks just drop in when ”y’all come round” is extended. And you better have coffee and pie ready too, they never turn it down. They just sit mostly, and talk. Some want to walk quietly around the pond and skip stones across the water, or sit on the bench under the trees and smell the honeysuckle that lines the fence row. Or, go out to feed the horses some hay, and stand on the corral fence to get a better look at the cattle down in the pasture. You can tap on the fence that extends into the pond and the catfish know it is feeding time; they skim along the top of the pond, huge mouths wide open to scoop up chow.
There is something about the expansiveness of the countryside that makes you feel free in a way nothing else can. The absolute wonder, beauty and simplicity of the land, the animals, the sunrise, the night sky-even the air bristles with unique enchantment.
I’ve lived in the city now for years and love its rhythm, its convenience, the melting pot of faces, cultures and cuisines, its opportunities, the city lights when it rains, its anonymity, the seasonal events, the synergy of liked minded spirits, and the life I’ve nurtured here. But I sometimes feel a deep longing and know I’m missing that part of me I left in the country. Nowhere can I hear better God’s invitation to sit and talk.
I remember years ago coming to myself, realizing that I was smiling for the first time in about four months. I was out in the pasture, just walking in the country. I was home.
God made the country, and man made the town. ~William Cowper, The Task