May 27, 2020

The Definition of Stubborn

• By John F. Chisholm •

Putting this farm to bed every fall feels like more of an effort than it used to be.  The farm has grown, it’s true.  Worse, I’m older.  Alas!  That’s true, too.

Some things, however, haven’t changed.  I still hate losing field to overgrowth.  It’s been a life-long aversion.  In addition, I’ve cleared more than a few of the acres I’m now striving to simply maintain.

But there’s no denying the temptation to ignore various sections.  It grows stronger as the difficulty of maintenance creeps up.  The rationales are the same as ever:

What is that?  Two-bits of hay in that corner?

I’m the only one who comes down here.

Nobody will notice if I stop.

Boy, my arthritis is really bad today.

This farm only has to last as long as I do.

These excuses go on.  I’m sure you can imagine.  They’re common to the human condition.

Never mind.  I’m still trying to finish, leaving nothing out, just as I have since we moved here.

That’s not saying that I’ll succeed.

Perhaps snow will arrive early.  Maybe a month of rain awaits.  Of course, the truth is one never knows what’s going to happen until it does.

I am sure of one thing though; I’ll be damned if I’ll voluntarily abandon my commitment to this farm.

That response makes me wonder.  It gives me pause.  I stop and shake my head at what I’ve become, wondering how I grew this way.

Because it’s curious, isn’t it; this implacable nature raised in us by ― what other than implacable Nature?  Those bushes keep coming back.  Those tree trunks and limbs keep falling into the fields.  Equipment inevitably breaks down.  Frost brings up ever more rocks.  Weather seldom cooperates.

Meanwhile, I respond ever more stubbornly to the way I am treated ― stubbornly!

I look at myself, surprised.  This farm has grown me to be exactly like it is:

Alive and determined to stay that way.

Dilapidated, despite my best efforts.

Cantankerous, where whatever I do meets continual push-back.

And finally, stubborn beyond a willow root.

I will NOT give up!

That’s how New England soil grows its sons.  It’s taken me a lifetime to realize that truth.

Not surprisingly, it’s taken precisely that same length of time to become exactly what it’s made me.

We owe far more of a debt to land than most will ever realize.