Grandpap collected old trucks. He bought or traded just about anything. Pickers knew he had old, rusty vintage relics parked on the farm. Rich kids bought old Chevy panels, or Ford pickups to have restored that they drove off to college.
The 300 acre farm sat back on a dirt road after the blacktop ran out near Saratoga Springs, New York. I would spend my summers with him and my grandmother. He taught life. He’d say if the nation ever got shut down for one reason or another, he would keep going. Ir was a real place where work never stopped except at bedtime.
Farm animals, crops, equipment and fences were daily chores. Trading led to collecting, a thread that bound this hamlet community of self-sustaining farmers. Neighbors pay one another with an old oak farm table, or in well used and darkened empty French oak wine barrels, or an old ’48 Ford truck.
My job was to fix the things that he had no time for. Engine repair, furniture rebuilding, fence stringing, and hay stacking were my assignments. The pickers would often come by buying up what we had around. I would fix up the wooden pieces in the barn using shop tools under grandpap’s eye, and the buyers from New York City hauled them back occasionally with an old truck in tow, too.
Surplus produce was packed and sold to gourmet private chefs cooking for Wall Street tycoons and owner’s of expensive restaurants with pricey wine lists, and white pressed linen tableclothes. The hamlet evolved into an underground cooperative economy, while the junk buyers became food vendors for the farm kitchen bakers of breads, pies, cakes, cheeses, goat milk, beef, lamp, eggs, and more.
Grandpap bred this farm collective and those who has struggled now prospered. Word spread among strangers who arrived offered to sell their dusty, barn stored discards. I would repair them, which found their way into Manhattan antique shops. This was real. This all had meaning. People helping people. My suburban school life meant less and less. I desired to remain and enroll in the nearby rural high school upon parent approval. Ninth grade would be a trial run. To live with grandpap and grandma instead of home ran over me like mineral water from a soothing hot springs pool. The farm life of my mother reached into me as it did her. The community’s embrace penetrated deep like blood and veins acting together to feed the heart, and from there, all the organs and cavities reaching into the body’s core. What existed there was unique; antithetical to suburbia.
To know when something is real is not to be forsaken, or ignored, or dismissed. When it comes to you, at any age, take it in. Hold it tightly with a comforting embrace.
Living on a cul-de-sac, surrounded by too many similar, although unfamiliar, cul-de-sacs where people rushed everywhere and believing they needed to do so, otherwise precious valuable time, a commodity to many, would be unnecessarily wasted. I had seen both sides at the time. There was a difference. I knew it then, and know it now.
There I felt and touched something real. Its smells were real, too. The eyes of a cow, the blades of a bird’s feather, the warmth of an egg, the smell of fresh cut green hay, the taste of new milk. It had meaning. Nothing wasted. Time sacred; never hurried. One could look longer than a gaze, and see without distraction, and watch with clarity, and believe with
There are many worlds. We can move from one into another. They are all a part of one, but inside there are smaller systems. In that place just outside of Saratoga Springs was a very small world, with individual moons rotating around it maintaining a rotational harmony solid and intact. The world back home was one that felt out of sync, and lacked harmony outside the front door of our home. There was a media pulse driving it forcing it off course and into multiple directions. But, on the farm one felt the anchoring of gravity holding us upon the earth with every step and every breath. (Max. word count 700.)