February 14, 2012 § 4 Comments
On our land there are certain spots where, time and again, I am afforded a view that encompasses so much of what I have come to love about it. Down past the blueberries, a little knoll from which I can see the house and barn and greenhouse, the largest of our three gardens, and the sweep of meadow before it. Or along the bottom edge of the new pasture, looking up the hill, the cows backlit by early morning sun.
There is no logic to the power these views hold over me; they are merely certain angles of the same elements I can see from hundreds of vantage points. Grass. Trees. Animals. Home. There is no logic, but then, I do not ask for or expect it. I accept the gift of these views much as I accept the love of my family, the gift of my animal’s milk and meat, the bounty of the fields and forest that surround me.
I wrote that some time ago; every once in awhile, something I’ve written will randomly pop back into my head, like remembering a dream I hadn’t known I’d had. Such was the case with this short passage, which made me think about how much I appreciate the different views across our property and how comforted I am by them. I’m not sure if it’s simple familiarity, or if it’s the specific elements that are so soothing. Probably it’s some of each.
From my desk, situated in a narrow doghouse dormer directly above the largest of our greenhouses and overlooking the pasture: The sledding and skiing hill, the snow packed hard and cut with tracks. Fast, I know, because yesterday I was showing off for the boys on my skis and bit it hard. The roof the greenhouse, symmetrical bows sheathed in plastic. They remind me of rib bones beneath skin. The bottom row of the blueberries, or half of it, at least. The others obscured by a spruce.
From the kitchen sink, where I stand so often, splashing water over the day’s dishes. “Use some soap, would you?” Penny always says, but I don’t know. Doesn’t really seem necessary, if you ask me. But anyways: The cows, gathered around their hay. Chewing, always chewing. The solar panels, tilted toward the sun, doing their thing with electrons. I don’t really understand it, but later, I’ll run the chop saw and be glad for it just the same. The windmill, spinning too lazily to contribute much, but I like the look of it. It’s spare and skeletal, function over form.
From the pond, my newly favorite view, perhaps because it’s still a surprise (less than a year ago, there was no pond). Looking up through our small sugarbush, pig house to the right. Again the cows, but this time from below. Still chewing, and smaller for the distance. The sledding hill, and from here, the whole of it, including a fresh Ben-sized divot on the downside of the jump. The end of the big greenhouse, but this time from the side. From this angle it doesn’t remind me of anything except that in four or five weeks, we’ll be picking early salads. That will be very nice; fresh greens have been scant of late.
Lately, as I’ve been working on a book about the value of money and our relationship to it, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we lack a common language that might better enable us to express the value of something so personal and subjective as a view. Sometimes I think this is a bad thing, because it inevitably leads us to translate everything into the relatively objective and collective metric of money. This of course is an entirely inadequate and inappropriate method for assigning value to our surroundings and our relationship to them. (So says I)
But there are also times I think it’s good thing, because if we lack a common language, we might individually stretch to find the words that feel right to each of us. And maybe that’s exactly the way it should be.