Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

Back in 1910, when Halley came around, the foundations of this house and barn had already been settling into the dark, rich ground for a decade under the Oregon rain. The lumber from which it was built had been felled and cut with handsaw, axe, sweat, and sinew from the tall timber nearby.

And in its time, touching on parts of three centuries (19th, 20th, and 21st) since ground was first broken, the farm would bear witness, but not falter and fail to the winds of change.  I myself have looked over the valley, to the forests and fields…to homesteads likely as old…and except perhaps for a change of crops and livestock, the view has remained essentially the same for nearly forty years.

On a recent visit it occurred to me that the influence from some lines in the Book of Ecclesiastes still echo throughout those timeless hills. And in some respects, time has stood still there on that farm. Time has hinted but not been granted much in the way of compromise. Some things have remained constant through the passing of over four hundred seasons since the foundations were laid there…and as in Chapter three of that book, there has been every purpose laid down and served over the passing of time:

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven…”

On this farm lives have seen their beginnings and some have concluded their time on earth as well. Gardens and crops have been planted, and beasts and fowl have been raised. There has been harvest and slaughter, and gathering of eggs and milk alike. Lives have faltered and seen healing. Through it all there has been laughter and heartfelt tears, wedding dances and wakes, squabbles and reuniting of souls, times of exile and of reunion.  Lives and things have been both shattered and mended in kind…Souls have been saved and sent out into the world. And in times of war, some have served and fought the good fight, while the balance have stayed home to pray for peace and wisdom to prevail. On this farm, there have been prayers for both foe and allies, so we can all live as one in the end. For over a century, on these near to fifty acres on God’s green earth; a time for every purpose under heaven has been honored and served with altruistic humility.

And if there is such a thing as heaven here on earth, perhaps one might find the greenest acres of it here…

Good things never really go out of style, especially when one tends to not be a slave to fashion in the form of fads and trends. Goodness is basic, it is wise yet simple. Goodness is taught by example, maintained by character-filled intrinsic souls and emulated through generations and over the course of millenniums. It isn’t always popular, nor is it always easy. Virtue entails hard work, perseverance and conviction. Goodness survives, and fortunately, thrives here…

The fields and meadows around this house would have likely, over the decades, fed young men that would see sad times through the Great War…the one that was fought to end all wars. Then the house on the hill overlooking valley and dale would again bear cattle and crop to feed those of Greatest Generation in the war that followed. Since the land was cleared and the house and outbuildings were raised, the USA has waged seven major wars.

And I clearly recall an event that occurred in the time frame when the last helicopter left Saigon…When men returned from battlefields… men who had started their journey as wide eyed boys.

On nearly fifty acres, Mr. C watched over a treasure of lovely daughters, who were in turn being looked over by a variety of country boys. But boys we were… eating machines that produced unearned ego and testosterone by the bushel and bail.  Then a wise and resourceful father and farmer inducted this squad of boys with idle hands who’d been basically loitering around his girls and grounds…He enlisted the lot of us to earn our keep, and his respect perhaps, and to gather his hay and stack it safely in the loft.

Knowing well we had our wild oats to sow, he curtailed that urge and diverted our energies to instead to clear his fields, to feed his cattle, to feed his family and community.  While in that field, following a steadily moving tractor and trailer, we stacked bales alongside his daughters. And we unwittingly harvested self respect and cultivated a start on manhood. We earned a piece of his hard earned bread, exchanged sweat equity for Kool-Aid…and a valid taste of an honest, hard day’s work. It was but a taste, an insightful glimpse beyond our coddled youth. And with a few dollars in our pocket, I can guess that even the heartiest of us looked wearily back at a glimpse of a real man’s world…Then, spent of the energy and vigor that had accompanied us to the early morning starts, we dragged our tired posteriors off to therapeutic showers and perhaps the first night in our lives of well earned sleep. As for those wild oats…we had little left in the tank afterward to venture near that field.

I for one got his point and eventually knew I’d visited the Gill boot camp that week. I had never looked down on the man, but I can assure you, I’ll always look up to him for what he taught me then. To this day, when I chance to pass by a field of hay stubble and waiting bales, I look back knowingly and pay homage to his genius and callused but gentle shaping hands…

And no, he didn’t do all this on his own. For 56 years now there has been Gill and Harriet…and their kids…lots of them…eight daughters and four sons. (Gill finally got some sons to help him put up hay…and they remain at his aid even to this day…)

They’ve been in this great and simple old house since 1959. A house where old fashioned ideals never grow out of style, where hands wash the dishes and the family gathers around the table on a regular basis…where prayers are not only spoken, but radiate from the hearts of all who are a part of the life there.

Halley came back around again in 1986 and looked down upon all the chaos below… But on nearly fifty acres in a green corner of the Pacific Northwest, even Halley had to admit that peace existed there…That the world ought to peek in there and learn about the simple truth that progress is rarely an improvement…and that people mainly seek profit and scarcely consider that change isn’t always for the general good…And that if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it, don’t bend it, don’t plug it in, don’t tax it, don’t judge it, don’t date it…But do admire it, and try to emulate it beyond those nearly fifty acres.

If I were asked what was raised and grown on that farm, I would say without hesitation or the need for further explanation; goodness, virtue, honesty, compassion, patience, family, and possibly, the solution to what ails our society today…a good serving of God fearing respect, faith, hope, and mostly, love…pure and simple.

When one needs to find the answers, to grow beyond adolescence, to lead the flock, to elude the circling pride…Go find Gill , roll up your sleeves, (even at the young age of eighty he’ll be up and already waiting on you), and make some hay. After that, eat a meal of Harriet’s home made soup and bread. Sip from a glass of icy cold water from their artesian well. The rest will soon grow clearer and the scattered pieces will begin to fall into place…Then step outside and chop some firewood…that stove can’t feed itself.

Life on the hill overlooking the Georgia Marilyn Geisel—–t (for privacy) Memorial Grove (in honor of Gill’s late mother) is a labor of love…as is the grove itself.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…And perhaps my time there is always a gift of a glimpse at heaven here on earth.

Keep the home fires burning Gill and Harriet…and I’ll see you there on that hill, when Halley next comes around…

Matthew Lyle Landsman, early November, 2008.

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