My neighbor owns most of the meadows near my home. This past spring he leased his property to a local farmer. I was told ahead of time that the land would be turned over for soybeans, but I wasn't prepared for the acrid scent of chemicals in our gentle valley. The day after the fields were sprayed, I viewed the land from my car. No sign of life to be found. All was burnt. Yellow. Destroyed.
It was weeks before the deer crept back into the fields. Now they come in droves to nibble at the scrawny crop of beans. Tall black stalks poke up through the rows, unsightly as unwanted hair.
I haven't taken many walks down the old paths this summer. I feel something akin to homesickness for the butterflies, bees, and red winged blackbirds that used to flutter, dive, and hum.
The pictures in my post today are from last year. I took them on one of my long rambles when I thought my lovely meadows (which were, of course, not really mine) would last forever.
How many Flowers fail in Wood—
Or perish from the Hill—
Without the privilege to know
That they are Beautiful—
How many cast a nameless Pod
Upon the nearest Breeze—
Unconscious of the Scarlet Freight—
It bear to Other Eyes—
I'm glad I have pictures.
The images I've captured of my long county walks are closely tied in my mind to the great classic books I've read in the last few years.
Sometimes, as I journey through books, I capture them well; I take lots of great notes, ponder insights, and do research. More often though, life happens. I become absorbed in my primary job of nurturing my lovely family! (And sometimes, to be fully honest, I become absorbed with less noble things like what my friend Anne Bogel calls the "Facebook Rabbit Hole.") Before I know it, I've read another tome without documenting the experience. The moments -- the flashes of insight and awe -- they slip away like a "nameless pod upon the nearest breeze" and I'm left with a sense of loss.
I have more unfinished drafts of posts in my blog archives than I have published posts.
Here are some classic books I've read while on my quest that I've written little-to-nothing about:
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster
And here's some modern stuff I've read lately:
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
Cut Me Loose by Leah Vincent
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
What Makes Olga Run By Bruce Grierson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Homeschool Sex Machine: Babes, Bible Quiz, and the Clinton Years by Matthew Pierce
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle
The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim
How to Read Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
So here's to moving forward! To seeking new places to ramble! To reading more and writing more as time, self-discipline, and energy allows!
Peace & Joy.
P.S. I wonder -- is it time for you to let go of something? Perhaps you need to release something that has more gravitas than a burned up meadow and some forgotten quotes. Is it time to move on? Is it time to make room in your life for a new residence or friendship or job or project or pet or ______________?