Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Then and Now


Little Flower Farm in Hillpoint, 2013
It doesn't matter where you've farmed or for how long. Just the tousle with a piece of land makes for an intimacy that stays with you- bone deep. We were visiting the Driftless Region during a whirl-wind day-long road trip last Friday. We were town for the wedding of two of our Amish friends. Took the opportunity to look in on the old farm. The 20 acres of pasture was plowed under for soybeans. The lilacs and wild raspberry bushes were bulldozed for a more streamlined street-side appearance. The house, batted about by 8 years of Hillpoint wind needs refinishing, the barn a new coat of paint. But the old cemetery is still there. Folks still bring flags and flowers to decorate the graves. The view still knocks the stuff out you, and the feeling of the land there is unmistakably familiar, like the bread-doughy outstreched arms of a smiling Grandmother.

The expanded Little Flower Farm crew in Hillpoint 2021
My Grandma used to spend her summers at her grandparents' farm in Arcadia, WI, just 2 hours Northwest of our old farm in Hillpoint. The way she spoke of that place, and of the hills surrounding the old farmhouse, the front porch, the dairy barn...gave me the impression that heaven for her, was that little piece of land in Arcadia. She said something once that has always stuck with me:

Jane (Erickson) Vessel with Uncle
 on the Arcadia farm
"We never thought we were anything special." She said it with a simplicity that bespoke both humility and the certainty that those people, that place, that time, were in reality, immensely special and eternally important. The farm was "home" to her in a way that her other homes had not been. It had given her a sense of having once belonged to special place...It doesn't matter where you've farmed or for how long. Just the tousle with a piece of land makes for an intimacy that stays with you- bone deep...  One of her last wishes on this earth was to come see our farm. I like to think she has a better view of it now, than she would have from her wheelchair.
5 minutes from our old farm, there is a chapel that sits in the middle of a small cemetery overlooking the hills and valleys. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Fields. 

O Blessed Lady of the Fields, who loved the land of thy native Galilee, who watched the Tiller of the Earth and Shepherd of the Flock go out and return from Nazareth, who lived with and loved the rural folk of the village, look down graciously upon the fields and pastures of this, thy adopted land. Make our homes sanctuaries of Christ as was thy home. Make our fields fertile and abundant in the harvest. Help us understand more fully the dignity of our toil and the merit it requires when offered through thee to Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

Prayer Source: National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 1920-1960