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  • Julie

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE


I sometimes get the feeling if I'm not abundantly careful the current of the outside world will sweep me away from here, this place, and all the hope and intention we've poured into it. I'll find myself wondering if our son shouldn't be signed up for a thing or two or three throughout the week. I'll begin to worry about certain benchmarks I'm not measuring up to as a thirty-something. Next thing I know, I'll be downstream living someone else's life. In my most overwrought moments I think of moving farther north yet for a life of forced, all-encompassing slow living; or of tethering myself further to this place in the day in and day out with something like another couple of pigs or a small fiber operation. I cannot leave my house today on account of the 75-100 sheep milling about. Or, No, he isn't on a competitive swimming team on account of living 327 miles from the nearest indoor pool.

You know, there are a million different ways to distract and detach from a life well-lived and I have found myself crawling out from under at least a handful of them lately. You can up and leave your old life - make jam, tan hides, wear your handmade dresses - but the world that birthed you stays the same. It even has the nerve to come knocking on your weathered front door and call you by name. It'll put a sharp finger into your bruised insecurities - the ones you got clearing this path of your own - and tell you your child can't be the only child at school with hand-mended pants. That or something like it. Little by little, in comes the current. The way I see it, you have got to get up every morning and choose the life you want over and over again, even when it isn't easy. (And pretty though she is, this life isn't always easy.)

***

I forgot to lock the chickens up until well after dark last night. I ran out with shoes so hastily slipped on it would have been more apt to call them toe covers. Knowing the path around to the coop well enough to plod along safely even on an ink pot of a night, I saved the beam of my flashlight for illuminating the woods that wrap around three sides of our homestead. Quiet, dark, still. I thought about the big rock that juts up out of the earth right inside the tree line and what it might be like to sit there on this moonless night. Swooping great horned owls; prowling coyotes deep in the woods, fleeing from my scent on the wind. How much more is there than all of this, I wondered. Communion with towering pines, unrelenting faith in a moon shrouded, the thrill of something other than myself- bigger, meaner even -living it's life just outside the slow scan of my handheld beam. A night black as pitch, unrelenting in all directions, I suppose makes a current in its own right. Just have to let it take you home.


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