We’re new here at the lake. The snow and ice coupled with the harsh wind blasting off the water makes for frigid nights. We’d been trying to find firewood, not the small bundles at the grocery but FIREWOOD! Everyone selling ricks of wood had already been sold out. Last weekend, my husband, Clay, passed wood for sale while driving back from Grey Summit late in the evening. The next day, we took off in that direction, hoping we could find it again. Miles of old country hwy spread before us, meandering it’s way through hills, valleys, farms and tiny towns. I wanted to stop and photograph the old fallen down barns, the red barns, round bales of hay lined up in pastures but we were burning daylight.
There’s a time of day, when the sun casts a certain amber hue that always makes me sad. I can’t tell you why. Seeing these small towns and farms, it feels desolate and I wonder how these people ended up here. Knowing the back breaking work even a small farm is, I wonder why anyone would choose that life.
Maybe it’s the raw honesty of it. There’s no delusion or denial of the natural circle of life, it’s accepted and embraced. Perhaps it’s the honesty of reaping the bounty of your own hard work, getting out of it as little or as much as you sow into it with your own hands. Maybe it’s just a more….simple, authentic, natural way of life. Finally, we found the wood and approached the house but no one answered. Clay went to the house next door, the only other house for miles. The 80 yr old neighbor answered and said to go get the wood, she’d take the money and bring it over when he got home. We were loading the wood when he pulled up. He jumped out of his truck with a smile, introduced himself and dug in to helping us load. We visited while we worked, hearing stories of clearing land and helping a neighbor put out a fire that got away from him. I was reminded of the simple honesty of country folk, no aires or masks, you get what you see. They extend an uncommon warmth and true community where neighbor’s are neighborly and always ready to lend a hand. I once owned a huge home in the city, in a wildly diverse neighborhood. People would get out and walk in the late afternoon and wave as you passed by. 5 years later, I still didn’t even know one of their names. I then bought a 1969 farmhouse with a barn on 6 acres. We drug in the last moving box around midnight and fell into a mattress on the floor. Clay had to work the next morning and by 10am, there was a knock at the door. Jean, from the cattle ranch across the street, had made a pot of soup so I wouldn’t have to cook while unpacking and a card with her and her husband’s numbers in case we needed anything. Val from next door brought me a large box of chocolates and Debbie from down the road brought over a pineapple as she doesn’t bake! We drove that meandering country hwy back home to our new lake front home that will soon be flooded with tourists. Somehow the amber sun didn’t feel so bleak and the tiny towns felt warm, though still I felt sadness tugging at my edges. I miss my neighbors, community and my church in my tiny country town.
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