A hop, skip and a jump into the woods just behind where we think The Big Barn lived once upon a time, lies this stretch of rock walls. At first glance, especially this time of year when it's covered with leaves, it doesn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary other than a spot of woods left to its own overgrowing inclinations. But a closer look, and just a step in with the crunch that follows, and it's clear that this is the 'farm dump', and that we're standing on layers upon layers of old rusting metal, clay, pottery, leather, glass and rubber trash.
The children know how I worry about them hanging around these parts, not to mention that it doesn't interest them in the slightest. There are acres of much more exciting-to-them adventures to be found here - bike ramps to ride, gigantic trees to climb, half-built treehouses to hide in, and forts and fairies neverending.
But, me? Without planning to do so, nearly every time I find myself out there alone in the woods, I end up wandering right to this very spot. It isn't the safest of places to be and I'm never quite prepared to actually dig or unearth anything beyond what I see on the surface (nor do I really want to or think we should). I might pull out a glass bottle to bring back with me, or an enamelware bowl to use for flowers, but mostly, I walk up and down the rock walls that contain it all and stare at what's inside them. This trash, as far as my untrained eye can tell, dates to just before the age of the trees growing in the pasture (the very trees we've been taking down). Which means, I do believe, that these bits and pieces belong to the last family who truly 'farmed' this land. And these, their broken dishes and colanders, tractor license plates, and metal spokes are what they left behind - beyond the 'use it up, wear it out, make do or do without' that I assumed this New England farm family lived by, this is what was left behind.
On the most basic level, standing in this spot inspires me to do with a little less. To watch just how much goes into my own trash can. But much more than that, I feel a sense of connection with these people through these things of theirs. I am reminded, as I walk these rock walls, that what we do here will last far longer than we ourselves will. These pastures we're clearing, the rock walls we're extending, will stand far longer than we will stand. And this land - while we will certainly and hopefully love it, care for it, sweat and labor on it for all the days of our lives - does not at all belong to us.
But oh, how grateful I am to walk here today.