A State of Mind
‘Country’ is surely as much a state of mind as it is a way of life. If it is a place, it need not be in this time and space. It can indeed be buried so deep in memory that in the normal course of affairs, it will not be unearthed.
Just to recognize the feeling is sufficient. One can live in the center of the largest metropolis, yet have within the pulsating heart the yearning for ‘country’. And find its expression, it will.
The eyes will hunger for a skyline with no buildings. And we will find the largest field we can and pick out the hedgerows and swiftly identify the birds nesting. The heart will be alert for the sudden movement in the shrubs and note with delight the brown eyes of the trusting doe.
The feet will shed their years in the cool grasses and pick up the butterfly net with the youngest child and take to the fields. It is the metamorphosis of the most profound kind. It is the body coming to life in however brief a time. And sometimes, too brief.
For eyes too long held to the grimy snow of cities, in the one whose heart brims with ‘country’ even the first city snowfall will bring to mind other times where ghosted angels cavorted in knee high drifts.
In those very eyes the star valentine will be seen and be recognized by a similar soul trudging alongside. It is a song to be heard and Nature calling to her own.
Touches of ‘country’ will be found everywhere. Sometimes an ancient bowl and pitcher will have a special place to be handled carefully with dreams attached. Or a checkered cloth with pottery will be set for dinner. And cornflowers in a crystal vase.
Stories will be born unto these memories brought in from deep wells of yearning and they will spring to life and hurtle into the future with internal power.
Carefully crafted wooden toys, highly polished, will seem to belong to another time. The receiving child will still delight in what is different but unmistakably made with love. And the circled guests will marvel at a cobbler floating its berries in heavy cream and shush the health fanatics with ‘it doesn’t happen every day’.
These are tributes to another time and place and also to those who keep alive a way of life for those of us less fortunate. And the loss is felt when lives are run by the second hand on the clock, when there are no fields in center cities for children to run barefoot in grasses.
Country people whose lives are lived with their eyes to the clock, their senses to the change in wind and darkening skies and wheat fields ready on the moment for harvesting, may not readily agree. But the differences are valuable and meaningful. In their presence one senses the difference immediately.
It is that imperceptible hesitancy in answering a question that articulates keenly variables affecting an answer. It is in that glance that takes in the horizon, ‘whence cometh my help’ before a commitment is made. It is in the delicate thrust of a child’s hand in answer to a greeting. And the firm grip of the parents’ on yours.
These come from an innate love and respect for our Earth Mother.
These are the signs of ‘country’, simple, articulate, trusting when trust is extended. Beautiful, artfully crafted with loving hands, whether from the oven or the workshop or the knitting needles. Signs that we cling to because our lives depend on them and they do.
So when the first snow flies in countable flakes, keep me in mind. I will be searching the snow for the earth angels. And I will find you.