It is so easy walking some of the back-country roads in East Montpelier or Calais to feel I’ve stepped back in time a hundred years or more. Though I no longer see many herds of milk cows or hear their bells clanging, I can imagine the sounds I’d have heard back then and can smell the manure that’s been recently spread over the newly cut hay fields. I can see the old farm machinery on the side hills of farms where people still struggle because that is the life they’ve long known.
Most profound are the towering cumulus clouds of summer billowing up over the landscape, dwarfing all that is human—not in a sinister, threatening way, but more a simple complement to what those working the land do and have done for so long.
It is easy to imagine that on my walk next week the old farms will have sprung back to life—horse-drawn rakes piling fresh-cut hay, the brown cows edging against the fences as I walk by, a neighbor inviting me in for a piece of fresh cherry pie. It is easy to imagine—not with the intent of romanticizing what was then, and still is, a hard, hard life, but rather in order to carry from it what continues to have value in today’s world: a bit of humanity finding a place in the landscape under these immense summer clouds. It is a good place to see the true relationships in life.