Can You See Us?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The tree

We are all around you, but we are not from here, we’re from some other place. Can you see us? We are your neighbors and co-workers; church friends and committee members, but our new life has taken us to another place that fits us well.

Our new place is not far. It’s not hard to get there. Perhaps you’ve seen us there, from time to time, while driving too fast on the way to work or piling your shopping cart with more pre-made dinners. You can’t see us from there, because we are not there.

We’re the ones that shop the isle’s you never see. We buy flour and cornmeal, sugar, spices, vegetables and fruits. We buy from Farmer’s Markets, farm stands and organic growers. We buy provisions, not groceries. We have learned that made from scratch tastes better when you grow your own. We started small, just a few simple recipes to get us started, then we learned to walk, and then run. Now, the idea of a frozen dinner or drive-thru makes us look twice. We’re not opposed to them, not at all. But, they don’t exist where we’re from. Maybe, at one time they did, but now they are forgotten. I don’t know. I can’t remember. It’s hard to remember those days when we now jump a fence to get to where we’re going. There just isn’t a whole lot of cellophane wrapped, pre-cooked, heat-and-eat here.

Can you see us?

In our other place?

It’s similar to yours, but we rest here. We come for different reasons, but we sit at the same table. We’ve set up shop in the same community. It’s not a physical place by any means. (It’s much better than that.) The place can be found in our actions, our decisions, our conversations, our hopes and dreams. The place is in the hobbies we pursue, the skills we learn, our secret desires to know what milk tastes like fresh from the cow. It doesn’t matter where we came from or who we were before, this new place sorta took us all in and showed us how to slow down and calm down.

You’re thinking, “What the hell?” You’re confused. We get that. You’ve probably seen us there and just didn’t realize it. Remember when we didn’t pick up the phone (even after all those calls) because we were digging in the garden? Or the time we gave up a weekend to build a chicken coop? Remember the Saturday we spent the whole day at the farmer’s market talking to people we’d never met before, but felt like we knew. You kept telling us we’re missing the show…the show of life. That we should leave. Sorry we missed the first act we were talking to our neighbors.

Can you see us now?

We are easy to spot. Our men aren’t afraid of dirt and sweat; our women have been known to grab hold of sheep by their horns. Our children run barefoot, and we do too. We’re the quiet ones, in the corner of the room, feet propped up on a well worn second-hand table in a warm wool sweater that’s been owned before. He’s one of us, right there. Do you see him? The one with the pack slung over his shoulder, and the dog following behind? Do you see him now? He’s the one with the cart on the back of his bike overflowing with bushels of tomatoes. No, he’s not a tomato freak, he’s just canning today. All winter long he’ll be eating fresh organic sauce, pulled from his well stocked larder. He’ll save the remains you know, the start of another meal.

Can you see him now? We’re from the same place. We know our own.

Where we come from people aren’t afraid of work—not even mildly put off by it.

You see, these people – my people – can spend the whole day tending the garden or cleaning the barn. We can spend a whole autumn worth of evenings in front of the fire, sipping cold pressed cider and reading books you’ve never even heard of.

My people can work wood, sew, bake bread and make cheese. They have mud on their boots and dirt on their hands. They know how to push on and push away. Sure, we’ll join you for a meal at an uptown bistro, but we’ll probably choose a pasta dish or a salad because where we come from animals know what the sun feels like. They have grass stuck in their teeth and mud caked on their hooves. We prefer not to eat the animals from your place; we’ve seen what they see just before they die.

Can you see us now?

You may not be able to see us, but we’re here. We’re walking down the streets of busy cities and quiet suburbs. We’re waiting for a bus or a taxi. We’re mucking out barns, chatting at the farm market, jumping in trucks and riding the train. We’re everywhere, right next to you, all the time, but we’ve left your place, we’re gone now. And, we’re not coming back. We thought about it, but the thought quickly passed.

Can you see us now, in our new place?

You should…see it you know. Boy is it beautiful! Where else can a weekday afternoon be tears-to-your-eyes gorgeous? We have come to see this. We watch the birds flit from plant to plant from our seat on the porch. We watch the sun sink below the trees and streak the sky with a palette of colors, and we miss the latest episodes (a result of this new place). Honestly, we rarely look at TV anymore. We have too much going on here. We’re afraid that if we let ourselves become distracted by the unimportant we’ll miss the next sunset. We can only take so much negativity in our new place, you see.

And by the way, this place we’re at can be yours too. We’ve been watching for you and waiting impatiently for you to arrive. I have to tell you though, that what you’ve heard is true. The work is hard and the hours are long, but I promise you you’ve never tasted a quiche like this and the coffee ain’t half bad either. When you’re ready friend we’ll show you the ropes, just as someone else showed us. You can get started right now if you want. All it takes is a steaming loaf of home baked bread smothered with fresh churned butter or the peep of day old chicks warm and safe in a box on the kitchen floor. The road will lie down before you friend, one mile at a time. Somewhere beyond the clothes line and the berry patch we’re here, just hanging out, waiting for you. Can you see us? Over there beyond the trucks and the beat up tractors. Can you see the bikes and carts all lined up? Keep coming, you’ll find us.

And, when you do find us in our place you’ll get it. We’re sure you won’t want to leave either. Yes, we are sure of it. We’re waiting for you friend…are you coming? We have an extra hoe and there’s a row of peas just for you. We’ll open our larder and share our bounty and let the hens know there will be one more for breakfast. There’s room for you friend – here in our place. There’s always more room for more, at our table.


Creative Commons License photo credit: jimmiebond

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