Monday, May 28, 2012

the dusty road

Dear readers, this is an audio-accompanied post. I want you to click this link, and turn your speakers on. As you read the story let the music be your soundtrack. Minimize the window and turn the volume down if it distracts you, as that distraction was not my intention.

There are so many travelers on the dusty roads tonight. We are all of us, the same. A kinfolk of shared hopes and dreams. We have all been so far away from our first homes for so long that we have started to see the road as all there is. We grow weary, and our horses make our bodies sore, and every day on this dusty road we feel ourselves moving forward but the destination has yet to arrive.

It is late and we are all exhausted. Yet in the distance, just over that rise of that gently sloping green hill, you can see the glow of campfires. Above the ruckus you see the white flag with the crossed shovel and hoe and you know it is your people. You can see the tops of tents and couples in lanterns glow, walking from the circles around the bale fires to their camps. This place is not our destination, but a respite along the way. A chance meeting of fates and faces. You don't know anyone personally, but every eye you meet you see yourself: another dusty-road traveler, making their own long journey to their farms.

You arrive under the flapping white banners, and a Camp Greeter walks out, smiling and hailing arms. "Welcome to this meeting place! You can set up your bedrolls and tarps over there. Set down your weapons, and find your pots and bowls." This is music to your ears. You heard rumors of this place, and finally you can rest and commune with your guard down. A gift to tired travelers on dangerous roads. A gift greater than any.

Some people have children, and others have dogs. Some are alone, save for their horses hobbled by their tents. Some move in clans of several families and some are lonely pairs. But tonight we are all sharing the same balefire and grab little metal pails to carry coals from it back to our camps. We are all thus nourished from the same fire. We bow our heads in a thousand different prayers in thanks for its burning.

Whatever your destination know that the day is passed, the fight has stopped, and there is nothing more you can do but rest and heal. Set aside the day's anger and fear. Whatever haunts you is not welcome here, and it is too late in the day to do anything else towards that fight. My dearest friend, you can relax.

Be mindful, that every stranger you meet here has their own story in their leather bound journal they clutch tight against their breasts. Assume that every single traveler you meet in camp is wearier than you, hungrier than you, and farther from first home than you. Only when you accept that everyone else has it harder can you open up your hearts to them and share a leg of lamb off the spit or ladle them a bowl of rabbit stew. Only when you understand we are all pilgrims, just passing through this road to our home farms, can we understand we are all the same.

I too am on this road. I too am walking home. Home to where our families, animals, and crops are bountiful and our minds are free from pain. Home to our dream farms! Home to our promised land, those places and hopes we clung to in our troubled sleep. Some nights on the roadsides, in tents battered by wind and rain, we nearly want to quit. We want to turn back. And yet every morning we roll up our wool blankets and pack our horses and ride along that dusty road. We are people of faith in the work. And all we want is to work more. It confuses others on different paths, and that is okay.

Because there are other paths out there, other tribes just like us. People who are setting sail for courses into the unknown realms, they are the hungry adventures. There are people waiting to board trains to the cities, guitars and portfolios under their arms, in search of successes and creative communities. There are packs of motor cars lined with men and women heading to the schools and universities of greater studies. Sometimes they put the tops down on their beeping engines and put goggles over their eyes, scarves blowing in the wind. You see them kick up their heels and shout in joy.

But we are the riders, the agrarians, the people all leaving those cities, towns, universities, and seashores to find a place where we can rest ourselves into peaceful labors of food and stock. Our hearts are out in the fields, behind a team of drafts or in gardens of black soil and healthy vegetables. We know of no better party than a barn dance, clink glasses of hard cider under the strings of lights in the rafters, and the fiddles make our hearts lighter. We are the riders of the dusty road. When it stops the earth will be so rich no dust can manage. Our horses hooves will step upon the furrowed rows of corn and wheat and we will weep from joy.

Gentle Traveler, friend on the path, you look as tired as I am. May I ask you this much? Set down your weapons, soften your hearts. Take long, deep, breaths and just look around. Everyone is like you, like me, hard traveling and desperately homesick. Look at you, you still don't get it? Soften your jaw, my dearheart. Let it move lose in your clenched face. Breath. Feel the softness of your cheeks, sun burnt and perfect. Feel that gentle skin between your eyes and nose rest and soften too. Breath. Now, smile. Smile and breath deep. You have reached a mighty camp this day. A tent city of hearts all beating for the same dream.

In a few days we will all pack up and move down that path again. But now just take time to realize you may rest, and be kind. Be especially kind to yourselves. Be proud of the dusty road. So many never left for this road, even if they wanted to. So many angry hearts watch behind dirty windows as your horses pass by. So give them some rabbit stew, as well. Leave it on their porches and kiss your palms before placing them on their doors with a blessing. Everyone is a tired traveler, even if they never leave their doorstops. Some of them are the most tired of all...

We will get there. We will all find home. But tonight let's eat, and water our horses, and share in some stories and songs. There are people dancing around the fires, hand in hand. Storytellers eyes light up around the packs of children. Couples rest heads on gently rising chests leaning against strong trees. No one is anything but grateful and that makes this place holy. Let's be gentle and warm, and find that place inside ourselves to understand the Dusty Road is home tonight. And there is no finer place to be than on the path towards a better home.

And someday, gentle traveler, we will share that cider under those barn lights. And when we do the road will be a memory, our hearts light, and there will be no regrets for the lambs we shared at camps like this. No regrets, just love and patience. Those two make the road a little easier to bear.

Always, those two.


Blogger Calidore said...

Thank You Jenna.

May 28, 2012 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger T said...

Beautiful post, Jenna. Enjoy this day and your dreams as well.

May 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger lemon said...

gave me goose bumps, this

May 28, 2012 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Thank you. Love and patience. Yes.

May 28, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Thank you for your beautiful words.... and the reminder to rest .. to breath on this journey. Have a wonderful day!

May 28, 2012 at 8:11 AM  
Anonymous mary in manchester said...

damn, girl. you can write.

May 28, 2012 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, I am with you. That was beautifully said. Love and patience. If not for that, what do we have left? I see so many hurried, angry people every day when I leave my farm and it's scary. And so sad. I will read this over and over so I don't forget. You have a pilgrim's soul.

I went out this morning and chopped down an agry ugly old wild rose bush and some more thistle I missed yesterday in the SOuth pasture. I'll work in the North pasture this evening. I am already drenched in sweat. Not much to do today but stay inside and make soap.

Have a great day, my fellow travelor.

May 28, 2012 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Gillian Welch is amazing (so is Dave Rawlings). This song was the perfect choice.

The image at the top reminded me of what my friends and I call our gathering together: "circling the wagons." We all live across the state of Maine, so when we get together, it's a treat.

Thanks for making your readers feel like part of a wholesome, dusty tribe of charmed and charming folks humming tunes and stoking fires. :)

May 28, 2012 at 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

It may just be because I have been standing at a crossroads for some time and just decided which direction to follow, but I cried reading this. Thank you.

May 28, 2012 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

I love your beautiful posts put to your wonderful slections of music. Lovely this beautiful morning as I read and listen. Happy Memorial Day Jenna :)
Peace and love to you.

May 28, 2012 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Katou said...

Can't say anything but "wow"...

May 28, 2012 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Powerful, beautiful,uplifting.

May 28, 2012 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I too, cried while reading this with the music in the background. Thank you, Jenna.

May 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely post to read first thing in the morning. This is one of my all time favorite Gillian Welch songs as well. Are you feeling like a road weary traveler? It's an interesting metaphor for one so beautifully rooted on her patch, but I still understand. The journey continues in our hearts, even when our feet have found a place to stay.

May 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Jenna. Just...

May 28, 2012 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger admin said...

Jenna, needed something like this right now to fortify while traveling that dusty road. Thank you.

May 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger macbew said...

This is such a beautiful story. Thank you so much.

May 28, 2012 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Thank you for this beautiful post Jenna. There is nothing more I can do tonight besides rest and heal.
Tomorrow is another day.

May 28, 2012 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger greendria said...


May 29, 2012 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Beautiful. Thank you. Thinking of you as you transition and move ever toward your dreams. :)

May 29, 2012 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thank you for sharing this Jenna... It stirs something in ones soul when read

May 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Big Sky Chicken Ranch and Victory Garden said...

Thank you!

May 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Big Sky Chicken Ranch and Victory Garden said...

Rad! Thank you.

May 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger downeast becka said...

goose bumps and tears, lovely lovely so perfect for these intensely busy spring days where everything wants to get into the ground at the same time and it is easy to push too hard without remembering why.....thanks...

June 1, 2012 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Aw, wish I'd seen this earlier! Sometimes I read your blog a little out of order... anyway, I am dead serious when I say that your visions of the world help to foster global peace. I think that's something that will be achieved not through following the sermons of a few powerful-seeming people but through EVERYBODY sharing with each other their insights into our common bonds while acknowledging that we do enjoy our separate tribes.

The part that made me tear up was the paragraph on the city-bound. I am grateful that you, of the agrarian ilk, respect the dreams of us with urban ties, especially with such epic words. I have recently come to realize that I do not need to live deep in a forest or on a self-sufficient farm in order to be in harmony with nature. The creative communities you mentioned, some types of which can only be fostered in cities, ARE part of nature. They are one of the ecosystems I am an essential part of.

That said, I certainly think cities need major revamping. There ought to be a lot fewer cars and a lot less concrete, a lot more intensive localized agriculture within, a lot more housing that encourages community, and a lot more diversity of zoning, so that, in twenty minutes on your bicycle in any direction, you can ride past homes, shops, restaurants, museums, libraries, theatres, schools, churches, community centres, small-scale factories, recycling centres, small farms, forests, fields, lakes. AND the streets need to be changed to accommodate walking first, then anything on people-powered wheels, then quiet buses and trains, and then finally private cars (which can use a variety of fuels, not just the fossil ones). Then can the primary sounds of the city be the chatter of people, the tinkle of bicycle bells, chirping birds, streetcars trundling along, busking musicians, and backyard chickens.

And the best part is that I trust that we are all in the process of learning how to live better. I think that a healthy earth will have a good balance of cities, farms, forests, oceans, deserts, and other landscapes, with interchange of people, goods, and ideas. Travel and trade and cross-continental moves in one's lifetime will still exist, just at a much more reasonable pace.

Thank you for your blog, where I can read about how another tribe lives, so that I remain aware of both our differences and our commonalities. And you are always welcome to visit.

Much love from an ambassador of the cities to an ambassador of the fields

June 3, 2012 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

P.S. Your writing reminds me a lot of American books (I'm Canadian) I used to read as a kid, books about intrepid woodsy pioneering types, often accompanied by dogs or wolves or horses. Gritty and steel-eyed, sometimes mistaken for cold-hearted, but actually fiercely loving.

June 3, 2012 at 1:54 PM  

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