All Day


All ears

Storms rolled in last evening, fast and heavy, washing away the oppressive heat, and this morning the air feels almost silken. I walked outside at first light and climbed the small hill that overlooks our house and barn, and further in the distance, the town hall and old church, both now obscured by new leaves. All quiet but the breeze and bird song and the distant clucking of our chickens, scratching and strutting about, pecking apart last winter’s cow droppings. Such easy contentment.

I think about this space more than I visit it these days, often in the form of random thoughts or images I want to share. Like yesterday, driving into a small town not far from here, just before the storms, and watching as a big John Deere tractor towing a manure spreader pulled into the recently-constructed Dollar General, the farmer presumably needing to pick up something on his way home from spreading a field. And the incongruity of it – the old and the new, the solid mass of the tractor and cow shit and what feels to me like the flimsy, ephemeral nature of the store, with its faux-brick siding and neon yellow signage. There was a lot of debate when the store was announced – over the building site, mostly, but also the nature of its commerce, and whether it might draw business from the town’s small-but-vibrant main street. A lot of people didn’t want the new store. A lot of people did. It’s been open a couple of years now; I’ve passed it a hundred times or more, and I can’t say it doesn’t please me to note how often the parking lot is empty, or nearly so. If nothing else, the store is straight-up ugly, a blighted box, though I suppose even that is open to debate.

Today I work down the road on the digger, doing drainage work, mostly, but also loading a dump truck with mounds of steaming compost. I like digging in the compost; I like the smell of it, rich and on the verge of sweet, and variable depending on the age of the material. It’s the middle-age piles that smell best to me, the ones that are still ripening, right in the thick of transformation. I could dig those piles all day.




11 thoughts on “All Day”

  1. When we go to central VT (Barre, Mtplr) there are dollar stores all over the place, which makes the whole thing seem more like a pestilence. But like you I’m interested in my own aversion to it. At moments I vow to myself I will never enter one of those stores (a vow I’ve kept so far)–and yet the “problem” is really about the way I fight against something I can’t control.

    Always the inner work, of which the outer is just a shadow.

  2. Thanks, as always, for climbing that small hill and sharing what you are seeing and thinking. I was reminded of a friend who I farmed with long ago near a small town in Michigan—Rod took great delight one night in loading up the spreader and spreading a load right down Main Street of the little rival town nearby. Imagine if your friend just happened to hit the “wrong” lever on his tractor the next time he stopped at the store…

  3. The fact of the dollar store is the fact of our souls: Want, our souls want. We are born wanting, we die wanting, and every day in the middle is wanting. And thus the dollar store. Satisfying want made easy. And the beauty of it is that since everything in the dollar store goes ruinous within days, everyone gets to go back! Everybody gets to feed their wanting soul again and again. It’s perfect. It’s America, land of blessed-dollar-store satisfaction where everyone gets to play.

    1. Not my soul. But then you didn’t mean my soul. You didn’t even mean your soul. You meant souls in general.

      When are we going hit the wake up button and realize that well made stuff that might have cost a nickel more can have that same intrinsic feeling of joy of having? I detest holding a Plas-dec thingy. I love holding a well-made thingy. There’s joy in taking care of it and having it be in service for years. It wouldn’t be such a huge mind shift. It wasn’t for me. I’m not special.

  4. Some may tout “new” is better, but “old and reliable ways” have “New Dollar” beat hands down. (Just drive by that ND lot a generation hence and see for yourself!)

  5. I live in a semi-rural area where grocery stores are 8-10 miles in various directions and the DGs are often placed in areas where it is convenient for people to get some basic grocery stuff when they can’t easily make the time commitment to get to town (20-30 min due to the roads and speed on those roads). I use mine a few times a month to pick up stuff I forgot to buy while in town or for things I run out of. Sure it is filled with some other crap, but need some medicine at the last minute? Sugar? It works. Would I rather have the footprint of a DG than a bigger grocery store or Walmart making sprawl inevitable? Yes.

    There are downsides to it (ugly, filled with cheap stuff, not made locally, etc) and there’s also the upside, which is better than stopping at the gas station which is what would happen if there wasn’t a DG. I get the grumbling when you are in a small town that has local businesses but in my particular area there isn’t anything like that. There’s no sacred downtown with local businesses.

    (sorry if this posts twice, WordPress seemed to eat it the last time, I think!)

  6. DG stores may be ugly but that sweet baby goat is most certainly not. Thanks for sharing the photo. Does he or she have a name yet? Do your boys still have their does? Oh, and I agree compost is about the best thing in the world especially when it is covered with scratching chickens. That’s a wonderful sight. 🙂

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