Here you go:
Some journeys are longer than they are. The road from my door to the farmhouse door is some forty miles, but it always takes me so much further.
Yesterday evening, the kids and I drove down to the farm for an extended Memorial Day weekend. I’ve written often about this place before — almost every time we come here, I guess. It’s a plot of modest acreage in Noxubee County where my mother was raised. Only forty miles, but as I said, some journeys are longer than they are.
The farm and I go way back. For me, it has always been a place that symbolizes simplicity — simple times, simple fun, simple experiences. Life more easily boils down to what matters in this place. At least what matters to me. My largest experience with the farm has been in unscheduled days. The days punctuated only by our own whims, or by the rest from having fully enjoyed them.
When I was a child, we sat in metal lawn chairs under the canopy of a huge pecan tree in the backyard. We drove to town to talk to Grandaddy’s friends over a Nu-Grape and a package of salted peanuts. We mixed up pecan pies with white Karo and butter. Forking the crust was my job. We watched Lawrence Welk on ETV with the ladies dancing in their cotton candy-colored long ruffled dresses. We laughed with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show as he entertained his guests. The best moments were always when he couldn’t keep himself from laughing. Like us.
Back then, we only had four channels for entertainment. Plus the sunshine. The pasture. The Nu-Grape and peanuts. The pecan pie.
Now the farm still draws us into simpler notions even though we come armed with DVDs, Nintendo games and iPads. We get more channels. We bring more channels. But, we don’t need them. The sun and the water hoses and the walks on the road seem to have a stronger pull. And the laughter. The funniest moments are when we can’t keep ourselves from laughing. Still.
The farm pulls us simply to do what we want to do without the distraction of other obligations. We immerse ourselves in our own thoughts and our own whims. It’s a luxury of freedom that, perhaps, isn’t appropriate most of the time, but becomes necessary at least sometimes.
My heart undergoes a transition when I’m preparing to visit the farm. Tangibly, I begin rearranging and recording the calendars and task lists of work activities so that the joy in doing what I love emerges again. And in so doing, the freedom to leave it unattended without worry emerges. It’s my own process to move myself toward simple, to shed the projects and schedules and bills that circumvent my thinking. As I pack our pajamas and bathing suits, I begin to peel away the burdens that sometimes hijack my whims and the desire to chase them. The place of simplicity calls when my spirit needs to lay down those burdens of stress and worry and frustration crowding my joy in simple things. Simple experiences. Simple places.
The journey to simplicity is often longer than it is.
It’s the distance between schedules and whims. Between crowded and joyful. It’s the distance from on to off, between closing the laptop and opening the book. Between “when I have time” and “yes, right now.” It takes us further than we expected.© Haley Montgomery
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Here, we walk on gravel roads and listen to the sound of our own feet crunching in search of adventure. We choose the most colorful stones to carry with us.
Here, we pick the plantings of our grandmothers and give them new prominence. We find wildflowers both delicate and steely. They journey from dusty fingers to sun-chased bottles as we honor them. Each has a smell, even if only the scent of our own attention.
Here, we hold a roly poly in our hands and wait. We wait for it to find enough comfort to unwind itself and explore the vastness of skin and palm and wrist. Its tiny feet tickle our flesh as we deliver it to the next blade of grass.
Here, we play with sticks. They are swords and staffs and wands armed for magic.
Here, we build fires to roast our hotdogs, baking our laughter into a fine buffet. We scream and blow our blackened marshmallows when they find themselves ablaze. We giggle and sigh with relief as they melt into the chocolate.
Here, we count the spots on ladybugs to discern if they are random or patterned. We wonder why some are missing their spots. Maybe they’re too old or too young.
Here, we pull the inaugural dandelion of the season — the first of many treasures released to bear more.
Here, we build things out of scrap wooden blocks — out of nothing, really. They are leftovers with windows and stories.
Here, we find Orion’s belt, gazing at the stars, and wish for parting clouds to reveal his prey. We are sure there is no twinkle as bright as this dark sky.
Here, we play our games and watch our movies as consolation prizes when outside has become too dark or too sweaty to dispatch its trophies.
Here, we hold hands, comparing sizes. We grab hold of ourselves in years gone by and in years to come. “I’m growing up,” we declare.
Here, we get back to there gingerly. We see there in different windswept light, through the lenses of simplicity sweetened with laughter and time well-spent. Here, we do nothing. And everything.© Haley Montgomery
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