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Walking the Ghost Farm
by Atina Diffley
Our 5th generation, family farm, has been developed into executive suburban homes, with rolling sod lawns, driveways and curbs, sidewalks to protect the residents from ³dirt². Everything clean and tidy, named Autumn Ridge, for the ridge they took away, the ridge the new residents will never be able to stand on gazing at the valley below, the valley that will never again be filled with corn and melons.
When I walk on the farm/development I become dizzy and disoriented. I see two images as I trod where a path once was. My eyes see the homes that exist in time now, the street with the curve ahead, while superimposed over the present my feet feel the old paths and continue to seek them out, though they run through someoneıs back yard or into their garage.
My memory sees the trees, swamps, animals, plants and hills that once were. Double images appear, overlapping each other. Hills rise through people's homes and yards, trees stretch their limbs through windows, crops grow in garages. Shall I walk the ghost farm or the suburban streets? My ears still hear the crows laughing about how they stole my first tomatoes of the season. I can close my eyes and hear the crackling sound of corn growing in the still of a hot July night. I can hear the rustle of leafs on the roof tricking me in my desire for rain.
My hands and feet can still feel the soil, knowing by feel alone whether itıs sand or clay, wet or dry, south or north slope.
I can still feel the wind at the end of a long, glorious June day, lightly blowing dust against my sun warmed, sturdy legs.
I can still smell the rich sweetness of spring soil, fresh compost, trees flowering, fall leaves drying.
I can still taste the corn pollen which floats in the mid summer heat, the first sugar melon, the taste of dust thrown up by the first rain.
Through the souls of my feet I can feel the strength and balance the land radiated and gave to me as a gift.
My heart can still feel the fullness of loving a piece of land so fully and feeling I belonged on it, sharing its beauty.
All this and more crowds through me as I try to walk where something else once was. Something that now exists only in hearts, memories and photo albums. Something that can never be brought back. Layer upon layer, superimposed, my senses become overwhelming and it's time to move on.
Beyond the now present street lights representing suburban values of safe/white cleanliness.
Beyond a community that neglected to leave room for nature.
Beyond what feels like certain death of life itself.
How many more deaths must occur before we put an end to this madness known as progress?
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