was about 19, I had a big fight with my boyfriend. A really big
fight - one of those “I’m not going to talk to you for at least a month”
fights. So rather than hanging around for the long silences and accusing
, I decided to go visit my sister.
At that point, she was into farming. Which struck me as truly odd because we
were city kids and I knew she knew absolutely nothing about farming. She’d bought 350 acres of land in a hilly area in the middle of nowhere about
two hours drive from where I lived. All I knew about how she lived was that she had to be careful about bears in the spring and that
howling wolves kept her awake in the winter.
So I called and explained my situation and she said, “Sure. Come.”
It was spring. Following instructions I’d scribbled down while talking to
her on the phone, I drove up and down winding dirt roads, through little
villages, past horses and cows, the scent of wildflowers, mud, and
manure playing havoc with my sinuses. I was becoming less and less
convinced that this was a good plan.
Up one last winding road and there on the side of a hill stood the
farmhouse, barn, chicken coop and silo she’d bought. For as far as
the eye could see there was nothing else to be seen beyond these, except for
a small field of corn and a lot of trees and weeds and grass – 349
acres of trees and weeds and grass.
Though the farmhouse looked to be in reasonably good shape from the
outside, the inside was another world. She and her boyfriend had refinished
all of the floors, painted, repaired, and wired the entire house. He sold
stereo equipment, so he had installed speakers everywhere and they had a
sound system unlike any I’d ever seen.
Where there was space, there
were column speakers. Where there was little space, small, very good
speakers had been mounted on the walls, above doorframes, on top of cabinets.
Even the kitchen was wired.
When we sat down that evening to eat dinner, I asked the question I’d
wanted to ask all day:
Why farming? You could have bought a house in the city for less than it
cost to buy 350 acres of land filled with trees and weeds and grass.
They looked at each other and my sister said:
"A row of corn,
A row of grass."
“Come with us.”
I found myself on my feet, moving up the staircase behind the two of them.
We passed through a landing, up another staircase, then to the trapdoor of
the attic. A ladder was lowered and we climbed up into the attic.
And there, hanging from the rafters was more grass than I could believe I
was seeing. Last year's crop hung from the rafters in huge bunches, curing. And on the
floor stood many green garbage bags filled to overfilling with it.
I gaped at the two of them. They just smiled and said,
“A row of corn,
A row of grass."