Happy New Year
Time to look back at the previous year. Remember what was good. What was not so good. And figure out what we can learn from both. Then tuck those snippets of wisdom into the pocket above our hearts, looking ahead with courage at the clean slate of 2009.
I'm feeling nostalgic so on this first day of the year, I'd like to share an essay I felt moved to write. If you have some memories you like to share of another time, another way of life, please leave a comment. We can look ahead tomorrow. :-)
THE SOLITARY TREE
by Janet Dean
Not far from our suburban home I’d pass an old farmhouse, built of brick, solid and stately, with a small porch across the front. It sat close to the street, built in a time when roads were strips of gravel, not wide thoroughfares, and land meant growing crops, not manicured lawns. Long narrow windows hid its occupants behind wavy glass. Alongside the house a solitary tree, limbs widespread, provided shade. Behind and to the left of the house an enormous red barn dominated the landscape. Each summer, corn, wheat and beans rotated in the acres of tillable ground surrounding the house. A drive circled behind the structure, bringing farm equipment to the barn and visitors to the backdoor.
Upon occasion, I’d see the owner, driving his outdated John Deere, holding up traffic. I admired that old farmer, admired him for holding out, for clinging to the land, refusing to take prime dollar for his way of life. I knew without ever meeting him that he understood work, understood sacrifice, knew what mattered.
For eleven years I drove past that house. Not long ago I noticed the paint on the barn had peeled and several boards needed repairing. Soon a large sign appeared in the yard, advertising an auction. On sale day, buyers packed the grounds, inspecting the contents of the house and outbuildings laid out on tables and strewn across the grass. I wanted to know what happened to the owners, but I didn’t stop to inquire, afraid to hear the answer. I comforted myself that someone younger would bid on the lovely old farmhouse, would raise their children here, and give the house a new lease on life.
Then the unthinkable—a huge piece of equipment appeared on the site, taking bites out of the house, spitting plaster and bricks. Soon the old farmhouse had been reduced to a pile of rubble. In a matter of days all signs of the house and barn had vanished.
When I drive past now, I look at that ancient tree, leafless in winter, splendid but alone with only the gravel drive as a reminder of the life lived here. Suddenly, I’m fighting tears. I remind myself that change is inevitable. It will come for all of us. It will come for me. Though intellectually I understand, in my heart, I mourn the passing of an era, the only reminder, that solitary tree.