“The land lies colorless after the harvest. The songbirds have taken flight for warmer climates. It is utterly serene. We are settled in, wonderfully warm, counting our blessings, enjoying the fruits of our labor as we gather by the fire, looking back on this busy year.”
– Charlotte Allen, 1928
When I step out on my back porch and hear nothing at all, see the harvest moon shining brightly in the sky, I know that we are blessed. Quiet, calm, safe, serene: there is no doubt in my mind that the world would be a much better place if more people came home to this peacefulness at the end of each day. The mindless mistake would be to take it entirely for granted.
I listened with horror as the national news carried nightmarish stories this past week, including that of 24-year-old baseball catcher Wilson Ramos being kidnapped outside of his home in Venezuela. He was later rescued in an all-guns-blazing battle for his life.
We read of gang wars and drive-by shootings in various cities in this country and wonder how to stop the violence. I think of those who find the thought of farm life too uneventful. I will quite happily take what others might consider boring.
I once brought a friend to visit my rural hometown, and as we were driving down a country road, we met a tractor going the opposite direction. We waved at one another, and my friend inquired who it was. I told her I didn’t know, but recognized the tractor as belonging to one of the dairy farm neighbors.
She couldn’t believe it, along with the fact that I rarely locked my car doors. She had been taught to never make eye contact while driving, pretending no one exists outside of your car windows.
That was years ago, long before classes in survival techniques were taught in nearly every corner of the world. I honestly had no idea what my friend was talking about. But, in the same situation today, I still wave and smile and now know enough to be grateful for neighbors, working hard to make a living.
There is something to be said for never experiencing fear or the type of anxiety that makes a heart race. I wish everyone could share that kind of peacefulness, that safety net of knowing — without even really giving it a thought — that those who surround us in our community wish us well rather than harm. Someone would look after us in a bad pinch. Knowing and caring about one another beats any security system hands down.
There is no doubt that some things have changed since my childhood, when doors were left unlocked and strangers welcomed without a moment’s thought. We have learned to be wary and wise in certain situations.
Kids no longer take off on a bicycle in the morning to go exploring for the day, a couple of peanut butter sandwiches packed in case a few friends could join up to spend the day splashing through creeks and searching for arrowheads in plowed fields.
But in a hometown where everyone knows your name, as well as the name of your parents and grandparents, credence is given in ways that simply cannot be described or explained.
Stories have changed a bit over the years. I know of my grandmother feeding a hungry hobo, as they were called back then, who often jumped a train in search of a better place, and had come knocking at her back door, offering to work for food.
Jump ahead 75 years, and we now have organized soup kitchens for those who have landed on tough times. The common denominator is gratitude and a grounded integrity with deep roots, not spoken of or focused on, but it is there nonetheless.
And it is worth more than silver or gold.