Ten years ago, I planted a row of fruit trees on either side of the driveway—a couple of pear trees and four apple trees. One of the apples died a few years ago, and when I wrapped a chain around the trunk and inched the tractor forward, the tree seemed to leap from the ground as if its roots had never held fast. I’ve pruned the apples a few times since, but one of the pears got away from me. To harvest the fruit at the top, I’d have to chop the tree down. The apples are now full of fruit, and I’m grateful to them for needing so little urging on my part. They’ve known their business and gone about it.
I’ve written from time to time about the trouble that overcomes me here on this farm, the way the land outwits me, the way my sense of time—conditioned by nonagrarian life—causes trouble again and again. I act as if mine were the only will that matters on the place, forgetting that everything that grows here has a will of its own. You have to be humble to live properly on the land. That’s one truth. Another is that you have to be able to accept humiliation. Some days that’s easy enough, just a matter of acknowledging the limits of my time and ability. Other days, it leads me into serious trouble with myself. The land doesn’t have a conscience, but I do, and the land—and what I’ve done to it or not done—is reflected in it.
This may just be a way of saying that fall is plainly coming, even though the farmers here are just finishing the first cutting of hay. The conifers have done well this summer for the same reason the farmers are grumbling—plenty of rain. I’ve scarcely ever seen a rabbit on this place before, and yet here they are this summer, as if the rain had brought them. They huddle on the lawn, in the pasture, along the drive, as if someone had placed them there or they’d grown up like mushrooms. They don’t seem to move. They appear and vanish without locomotion. It’s a good trick.
stem: verlyn klinkenborg
perspectief: I owe one more inexpressible debt, and that is to Lindy Smith, who for a decade shared this farm and helped make it what it is. She knows better than anyone its joys and its sorrows.
title: year seven, august 15
bron: more scenes from the rural life (2013)
mopw: meerstemmige encyclopedie / appel