14 August 2010

An Erstwhile Country Gentleman

It was a long drive into the midsection of my home state, out closer to the mountains and deep in to farm/horse/cow/vegetable territory.  It was part scouting mission, part stress reducer.  The walls were starting to feel a little close which meant it was time to move.

The destination was really no destination, other than a broad loop through the countryside adjacent to the east side of the Catoctin Mountains*.  By a quirk of circumstance,  Frederick County is home to three old covered bridges, all within about 15 miles of each other.  Visiting them all makes for a nice diversion.  Two of them even have places to picnic nearby, one even has a park.

The iPod on the dash, knapsack filled with maps and camera, cooler with sandwich and a drink.  I was all set.  It has been years since I had been on a spontaneous road trip.  Back when I was a teen aged Gumbo, some friends of mine and I would go on them all the time.  All you needed was a car (them) and gas money (me) and voila! Instant fun.

So it was today.  Driving the car, setting the course and singing badly along with the tunes.  A prime opportunity to shake off the cloud o' gloom that has been hovering over me lately.  I find it a great way to clear some mindspace.  It is also a pleasure to be on the road without an agenda or a timetable or stuck in with the other rodents in rush hour.  For me to say "I'll get there when I get there" was an enormous relief.  The bridges were all that and a bag of chips.  Very picturesque, although some brighter sunlight would have been better.  Not to worry, still took some good pictures.

Once up near the mountains, my course was mostly on side roads, winding through a small town and past farms and pastures.  The sky was cloudy, but no rain.  I saw a plethora of horses, cows and old farmsteads.  Say what you will about manure, but sometimes the smell of it is oddly comforting**.

Did it make me want to become a dairy farmer?  Only a little.  What I really enjoyed was the openness and the relative quiet.  There is something magical and soothing about the sound of water over rocks, wind in the grass and the sight of old barns.  If I could, I'd buy one of the old, abandoned farmsteads I saw (amazing "tin" roofs) out there.  I'd buy for the sheer sake of being to look out the window and up at the mountains in the morning.  I'd live there for the sake of the aroma of new mown hay.  I probably wouldn't raise any livestock, except maybe chickens, but I would grow a lot of alfalfa and hay for local sale and fodder for the other farms out there.

I'd buy it for the sake of finding that room with windows on two sides, that overlooks a shade tree or maybe a creek, where I could put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, after putting on a pot of tea.  I'd open the window in spring to feel the breeze and smell the air.  I'm guessing there would be an old dog at my feet, and a expert mouser of a cat sitting on the porch.

I'd buy it so I could have some room to think and breathe.  I'd buy it so in early summer, I could invite you all over for a cookout and a party.  And we'd all have fresh peaches for dessert, and laugh as the juice dribbles down our chins.  I'd buy it so we could watch the fireflies come out a dusk, and think life a fine thing indeed.

Join me, please?

*Gumbo Fun Fact: Camp David (the presidential retreat) is in the Catoctins.  Whee!  I did not see the President, however.
**I speak here of cow manure in grassy pastures, not in the pens of factory farms or the like. And let's not even discuss pig manure. Yikes.


  1. I sing badly and often. I have perfect pitch, but for some reason my brain can't tell my mouth what to do.

  2. i gotta say i get melancholy when i smell horse doo doo. reminds me of being a girl and riding all summer long, mucking stalls, with a big 16 hander named silver nuzzling up to me.

    peaches - YUM. all these in a box in front of me, only thing i want to do right now is wish they'd magically de-pit themselves. hmph.

  3. whenever I smell cow poo, i want to live in a very small town and be simple.

  4. Whenever I go anyway that's not in my usual orbit, I start to imagine how I would live there.

    I one time thought I could be a hot dog cart vendor on cape cod. Had the annual salary and living expenses all figured out. . .

  5. Seems like an excellent way to clear your head. Totally in for the cookout. :-)

  6. I love those old farmsteads. The abandoned ones hold such memories.


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