Kept The Faith
This day is, in my life, a day to record. I have signed away to a
younger man most of those acres where for many years I have
spent my time and my strength in the labors of a farmer.
There are not so many of us left anymore who know what the
feeling is like to love that land where you have plowed and
harrowed, sowed and reaped, built fences and put up the hay and
herded the cattle.
Now, as the one-time owner of that land, I bid goodbye as to an old and very dear friend. A man and his acres are, after all, not of different kingdoms. The man, the bird, the tree, the clump of grass all have the same Maker, and take their sustenance from the same prodigious earth.
By being human, I trust I have added something to this landscape of hills and valleys, but I could have done nothing without those other forms of life. Now I feel the loss of ties which are formed through labor and association.
Memories are all the harvest that is left.... memories, plus the faith that other hands will do as well or better than mine have done to keep those acres fair to look upon. In a certain way, this land will always belong to me.
The above was found on a single, yellowed-with-age, hand-typed
page that was among my mother’s old family papers (which have
recently come into my possession). No author is given. It could
have been written by my grandfather Percy Philbrick of Fort
Fairfield, Maine. It could have been written by any number of old
farmers across America who, due to advanced age, poor health, or
insufficient finances had to sell their beloved farms.
I wonder, where were the children of this old farmer and those like
him? I’ll tell you. They left the land for “greener pastures”—for
careers in the cities and suburbs. Millions of them left the farm.
They broke their connection to soil and family tradition to pursue
an industrialized version of “the good life.”
In so doing, they and their children would never know a section of
land, a place, like the old farmer who penned the words
That is a tragedy.