A little drunk.
On my favorite stretch of road.
“What’s your favorite part of Beech Hill Road?” she asked. That’s where I live. Or one of the places. I think she knew, before asking, my daughter. At least it was one of a few special candidates.
Home is, no matter how it looks or how clean it is or how humble, just comforting. And home can be a house or a town or a road like Beech Hill Road. Somehow this road is the beginning of that feeling. It’s a 7-mile stretch between a rural highway and a river-flanked country backroad that leads nowhere, the kind of nowhere that is everything.
When I return to Beech Hill after being anywhere else, a big city that hums with busyness, a sandy beach with a watery blue horizon, or even a vacation with A-list sights to see, I am surprised at how much deep beauty lives here on my bending road. Wide and open in parts, passing communities of deer. Pastures and meadows. Groves of 60-foot tall pines. Houses tucked in. Some falling down.
When you round the bend getting closer and closer to my house, you find yourself in a dark forest before it pops open to a three-board fence with a gate, and a spring-fed pond that is now host to a muskrat pair swimming back and forth between their home in the far bank and some choice grasses to forage on the other. Cars slow down when they pass, to count the beehives, peer into the pond for fish and to see if anyone is home in the stone house on the hill.
The light is long here. Somehow the sky seems more open than in the surrounding valley. On our own hill, the sun arcs from a land behind the pond to well beyond the donkey barn in a day that stretches out with chores and animal tending. You have to be here to feel how tall it is, the Beech and other trees reaching and extending toward open spaces.
Beech Hill turns. Big curves around. And big curves upward too. From the summit, two miles from the house, you glide downward and daydream. In the middle of that mental coast, an aging fence wakes you. Some forty posts long it cinches a meadow in, connecting the dots with the trees on the other side. A meadow with no other purpose. No goals. No daily tasks. Other than just to be there. Growing. Wildflowers. Grasses with wheat-like tassels. Blowing and bending.
I know most of the people who live on this road. The locals who grew up here. Right here. Their families tending dairy cows or harvesting maple sap for pancake drizzles. Truckers hauling cauliflower to the Bronx. Hunters and second home owners. Gardeners and lawyers.
Another family owns this meadow. I only know of them. And what I know is this: that they must love this old roadside fence and meadow too. Even though the fence stands erect in some parts and wobbles in others. The section you come upon first from my direction leans so much it makes you lean too, like you might when your bowling ball is heading for the gutter instead of the pins. Then, as if noticing that the cocktail it just had was stronger than it thought, it straightens itself up, smoothing its shirt over the top of its jeans and walking more deliberately on.
This is my favorite part of the road. The fence. Grayed. Bowing in places. Protecting the meadow from other possible ideas of what it could do, as if being here might not be good enough. But it is.
A note about this Substack, in case you are wondering why it’s here and how whatever it is I am doing fits (loosely) together:
Some people, like you, prefer to read stories about the Accidental Farm. This is where they will be for now. They used to be on a blog on my website, but meh. I have also shared them on Instagram. But now, also meh. I am moving them here. Just words.
I will continue to share photos and videos on Instagram from time to time if you need pictures to go with your words.
I also share stories on two podcasts:
The Accidental Farm Podcast is 5-minutes a day when it’s in season. The first season has 100 episodes. You will hear about Carl there and other furry and feathered characters too. Another season is coming, soon.
The Talk Farm to Me podcast is a longer, interview-based podcast where I share stories from serious farmers about their work and their lives with insights you can’t glean from chatting with them at the farmer’s market.
With all of these stories, I invite you to be “for farmers” in your daily actions, your hearts and am working toward building a community of US to show how we are for THEM in a way that makes them feel seen, heard and appreciated. More on this soon.
And a confession. I have a manifesto. It might tie all this together for you, or for me. For now it does. xo