When I was very young, my grandfather took me to a farm. I remember the vastness – wide expanses of land seeded with hills, white fence enclosures, large old barns that seemed to be on the verge of collapse, the faces of old horses who were passing out their time just looking around and eating grass. I remember the distinct smells of the farm as well: bales of hay, dried wood, pungent sweat of the horses in the sun, dairy ingredients, the dusty old clothes of farm workers, the tentative attitude of the old dogs. But most of all I remember the pace…nothing hurried and everything purposed to be set in its own time. The air seemed to resonate with a clear admonition to me saying only, “time enough.” And when we started to leave I felt as though I was departing from another world altogether… and I wished that my grandfather and I would have stayed a little longer, if only to bottle the soul of the place.
Come to the farm, invited guest … come on down and rest awhile,
Allow me to offer you the grand tour,
To the welcomed view of a vast expanse of great promise set before you,
tender pastoral offerings that have enticed you into its aura of a distant land
with strange and immutable echoes, like a new dream before your eyes;
Did you know that every farm brings to remembrance your youth?
Where you begin to reflect the timelines of your innocence, the cache of heart and mind
that leads you, as a guardian angel would, back into yourself
Come … take in the resident community of the animals- boyhood friends of docile goats, curious ducks
that think you have some corn niblets awaiting them, piglets who can’t seem to stop running around the place like mad hatters, ranting chickens who want to question your ID, cows that seek the highest hill and graze gently like a commune of mystics feeding in private meditations, old tractors that are part of the family and will never die..
Stand paused in the middle of a pea patch like a child in wonder,
Follow the rows of stark-white fences that light up the night keeping out uninvited guests and keeping in their prized jewels from going out for a night on the town, see the warehouses of seed more valuable than a cool breeze in the heart of summer, full bales of hay smooth as silk piled high for teams of horses, roadside stands that overshadow even supermarkets with promises of produce that do not need an expiration date.
Oh the sight of sweet corn … the tailored imperfect alignment of rows that look like a field of cadets –
Sweet and shining treasures of gold lovingly enveloped in the embrace of green sheaves;
Vegetable patches that blend into a carnival of colors, shapes, and sizes, that will sustain a community of family tables and nourish a town dependent upon the welcomed blessing of a good harvest.
And behold the gifts of farmers to us…keepers of the land whose Midas touch gives birth to cornucopias of plenty bestowed on a community of friends,
Whose wisdom, inherited from ghosts of family traditions, labor hard in constant diligence over their crops as a father or mother would over its young;
Skilled sages in the art of tilling and mechanical genius who keep things running forever…
Whose reward is the overseeing genesis of horns of plenty – like fruits of the vine-
gifts of full dinner tables, and the gracious gratitude of friends and family.
John Ulatowski has published several books of photographic images.