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Column: Rekindling memories of a life based on the land

  • Kenneth Robinson greets the author's horses. (Jessica Eaton photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 4/10/2021 10:20:05 PM
Modified: 4/10/2021 10:20:04 PM

Having turned 65 recently, my mind is spinning with plans, dreams, hopes and resolutions, none of which change the existing trajectory, just intensify it.

There’s so much to do! And, thankfully, there’s so much I’m still able to do. Providing food for people, bread and vegetables, remains at the center of it all. The job that sweeps me off my feet like a powerful and passionate love.

It’s warming up. The seeds are here, and flats of alliums are sprouted and growing. There’s a big pile of compost ready to spread on the garden ground with the mares, Penny and Sandy. The greenhouse is warming to the idea of a crop of salad greens. Once the growing season is upon us, I can scarcely think about anything else.

The food goes directly to people, to people I know and care about. Once a week they come for their box. I can see them, find out how they are, and how the little ones are. Take the tots into the barn to pat the big horses. Witnessing a 3-year-old, filled with glee and awe in equal measure, meet up with an 1,800-pound horse, readily brings a tear to my eye. A small child’s courage sometimes falters a bit at the crucial moment when the urge to touch is so overwhelming, but the horses exude gentleness. They are maternal, reassuring and beckoning. They love the little ones as the little ones love them.

Once in a great while there will come a tottery old grandpa, attended by a middle-aged son or daughter who helps with steadiness, who like the little one is drawn to contact with the horses. Some of them farmed with horses in their youth, and revel in the chance to run an old, gnarly hand, once again, so gently, so familiarly, over a horse’s muzzle, renewing feelings they knew so well, long ago.

A few times I’ve been able to harness the team and drive them out into the dooryard to meet a frail old person, and each time the experience has brought immeasurable happiness to all involved, giving me the feeling that I’m facilitating a reunion rather than an introduction.

There’s very little of our current world that soothes an old farmer’s heart, little evidence to rekindle a memory, or validate a land-based life. Reuniting an old man with a harnessed team of horses feels to me like honoring his life, his lost world, in a deeply significant way.

Often, in my exchanges with older farm folk cooped up in a swanky eldercare facility, beloved elders have asked to return to the farm to live, begging me to take them home. Home and Heaven seem the same. Never have I felt so honored, and so helpless at the same time.

We hardly realize the lengths to which commercialization and technology have overtaken us. Staying close to the ground as I do, I have a chance to notice the line in the sand where the human spirit is lost, by degree, in the unrelenting torrent of materialism, which drowns out the gifts of the individual.

Please do plant a garden if you can. Sure, the homegrown tomatoes will knock your socks off. But most of all, you will be savoring your own connection to our Earth, your own unique life-affirming awareness which may well help the big story switch from sad to happy, perhaps even add a new chapter we have yet to imagine into being.

You know, the one we have harbored in our hearts all along.

Suzanne Lupien lives, writes and farms in Vershire, raising vegetables with her Belgian draft horses.

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