|Sheepdog in her dreams|
The farms and the flocks endure, bigger than the life of a single person. We are born, live our working lives, and die, passing like the oak leaves that blow across our land in the winter. We are each tiny parts of something enduring, something that feels solid, real, and true. Our farming way of life has roots deeper than five thousand years into the soil of this landscape. - James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life (NY: Flatiron Books, 2015)
...looking down at the landscape farmed by my father’s friends, and cross-checking it against the guide. It struck me powerfully that there was scarcely a trace of any of the things we cared about in what Wainwright had written. Apart from the odd dot on the map for a farm or a wall, none of our world was in those pages. I am wondering whether the people on that mountain see the working side of that landscape, and whether it matters. In my bones I feel it does matter. That seeing, understanding, and respecting people in their own landscape is crucial to their culture and way of life being valued and sustained. What you don’t see, you don’t care about.
It is a curious thing to slowly discover that your landscape is beloved of other people. It is even more curious, and a little unsettling, when you discover by stages that you as a native are not really part of the story and meaning they attach to that place. There are never any tourists here when it is raining sideways or showing in winter, so it is tempting to see it as a fair-weather love. Our relationship with the landscape is about being there through it all. To me the difference is like the distinction between what you felt for a pretty girl you knew in your youth, and the love you feel for your wife after many years of marriage. Most unsettling was the discovery that the people who thought about this place in this way outnumbered us by many hundreds to one. I found that threatening to our very existence....
|Readying Leelanau fields|
|Bees at work in Leelanau orchard|
Must everyone, everywhere, be goaded into a faster and faster way of life – everything high-tech, “branded,” and magazine-slick in appearance – or shoved off to the side of the road?
|Beech buds in Leelanau woods|