The future is not always easy to embrace. From the new angles that are being use to log the Pacific Northwest clean, to the rapid parcelling off of the old family farms, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Inevitably this leaves us with smaller fields and not quite the soft mountains we grew up experiencing. Deep Blue skies, distant evergreen mountains, and fresh cut fields full of small square hay bails, that is what July means to most of us around here. We go about our lives, busily of course, but it is this backdrop that keeps us steady. Keeps us feeling at home.
Over the years it has been a love of mine to watch the local farmers work their fields. I take notice as one piece of rickety equipment makes its way from one homestead to the next. Usually adorned by an awkwardly tanned man, approaching or well into retirement. Only to be followed by another gent set about to complete the next task. Labor-some as this process is, It reminds me that I still live in a community where neighbors really do take the time to love one another, assuming that love is a very real action and not a passing sentiment. Honestly, I think my instincts would have me drive the 12 miles to the nearest grocers store before I walked the distance between me and my neighbors home to barrow a cup of sugar. I love my neighbors, but I live in fear of inconveniencing anyone or thing on my behalf.
Living here for the majority of my ever lengthening life, I have enjoyed/endured the notion of small town community and the open book transparency that comes with this glorious existence. Over the past decade, or two, however, it is not simply the background that has changed. Being me, I am not sure if I am in the position to say if the change is altogether positive or negative. I will let you decide.
When I was a young woman a boy that I had attended junior and high school with offered up a point blank statement that put me on course to question my self for the next twenty years. He simply asked, with a malice intent I’m sure, “Samantha why are you always walking around like you are stuck in your own world?” Well geez what kind of a question is that? I am not sure if I answered him or simply thought to myself, “Because I am.” It is obvious to me and most everyone else now, but I did not know anything about the idea of an introvert/extrovert at that time in my life. Growing up I never really felt close the the friends I was thought to have. I just hovered somewhat close to them to prevent basic ridicule and judgment that came from wandering aimlessly on one’s own. I did appreciate them as individuals, don’t get me wrong, they were all beautiful people. I simply never held a real attachment in those situations. If left to my own design, I tuned everyone out and simply focused on the painting, sculpture, or drawing that was in front of me. I did pay attention enough, however, to know that I was not the norm, Aaron simply brought that to the forefront of my mind. Most people lived to interact with each other. They appeared to thrive in those situations, so it seemed. I didn’t think to much about it up until that moment. I began questioning myself from that day, wondering why I was so different. But here’s the plot twist, flash forward 20ish years and BAM!! I AM NORMAL. No I didn’t change my ways, but rather it seems the ways have changed.
I often make my way through the various towns that dot our beautiful valleys and hills here in the Pacific Northwest. I spend a lot of time taking photos and trying my darndest to visit the many, many members of my family. In my travelings roundabout, I have noticed a shift. While I am out in public/market, or at community events, I am not the one avoiding eye contact. I am not the one shying away from social interaction that use to take place all around me. Let me assure you, before you jump to some slightly humorous conclusion, that I have nothing obviously repelling people from me; Although, I just laughed “out loud” while typing that statement. OK, for the sake of a clear conscience, I will place emphasis on the word obvious. As I was saying, these days, I freely stair at people. They don’t even notice. I can comfortably watch people ignore me, and rest assured that no real interaction will come from the ordeal of making such bold maneuvers. If by chance they do notice, they simply act like it never happened, and look back down at their smart devices or find some other way of stating that their minds are already occupied by thought not including me, or anyone else around them. So, who am I to judge being someone who can’t even put effort out to talk to an overworked cashier at the local grocers. Oh believe me, I do not judge, I am liberated. My world, that I walk all alone in, has gotten a lot bigger, and a lot more interesting. Yet here I sit typing, realizing that those small hay bales are an endangered species, quickly evolving into large round bales. The evergreen mountains off in the distance have a bit more brown in them than they use to. They just don’t feel as soft and inviting as they once did. For some hidden reason the sky is not the only thing that seems a little too blue this July. My long time neighbor passed away a couple years back. He was the second generation of his family to tend to the grand expanse of fields in this charming valley, I watch over from my mountain top. His fields are now being cut by his widow, son and grandson. It is a grand statement to say that it takes three people to successfully compare to one man’s love for his land. I know the family farm has history and means the world to these people, but I live in fear of the day they will parcel of the land and give up tending those fields for a more appealing tan line. Now that would be a devastating pill for me to swallow.
So change is here, probably to stay. It would be hard for me to tell it to pack it’s bags and get out of her. The way I see it, it is not really that complicated. While embracing my future, because who really has a choice about that one, I have two options. I will continue to watch my neighbors do what they do, while they pretend to not notice me, or I can work up the courage to barrow that cup of sugar and see what August has in store.
originally published through Mountain Maiden blog on august 2018.