Wednesday, June 5, 2013

6 am on the farm

Fifteen years ago, when our friends and family heard we were moving to east Tennessee, most of them did not understand why.  Sure, my husband had a good offer to practice there.  But he also had offers in Indiana, where we had lived our entire lives.  Eastern Tennessee?  A little-bitty Southern town?  What would we do for entertainment?  Where would we shop?  What were we thinking?

We wanted to live somewhere pretty. 

Pretty?  Bristol?

Walk the dogs with me this morning.  Six am.  The sky's light but the sun isn't really up yet; the mountains just south of us are a silhouette of blue.  Hundreds of birds chorus the dawn.  I know what lives here:  sparrows. robins.  red-winged starlings.  mockingbirds.  yellow finches.  In summer we have dozens of barn swallows.  They circle me when I ride through the fields, swooping up the insects the horse raises from the grass.  In winter a red-tailed hawk lives here, along with a flock of Eastern bluebirds.

The grass, mowed yesterday, is heavy with dew.  The scent of honeysuckle hangs in the air.  It grows wild in the fence rows; it perfumes the entire month of June.  I walk past the trees we planted--columnar oaks, evergreens, a mimosa.  A spring-fed creek runs through our property, and across it, at the top of the hill, are 700 black walnut trees.  When we planted them they were the size of chopsticks.  Now they are thirty and forty feet tall.  They're meant for timber; my husband calls them our "get rich slow" scheme.

Muskrats live in the creek, and snapping turtles, and frogs.  Lately we've been seeing a big brown heron.  Deer live in the copse in front of the walnuts, and for awhile I had a fox den in my coop jump.  I haven't seen the fox in awhile.  We only have fifty acres, and subdivisions border us on two sides, but I hear coyotes in the night sometimes and if I walk to the barn after dark am always careful not to disturb the skunks that might be waddling across the lawn. 

Indiana has its own beauty.  The sky there is so big, and across the farmland you can see forever, farther and farther back to the very limit of your vision.  But here the mountains change color across the span of a day, and the wind blows the hayfield into ripples like the ocean.  We wanted to live somewhere pretty, and so we did.