Winged Elm Farm

  (Philadelphia, Tennessee)
Farm Notes
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Full Moon

I was standing in the oldest orchard. The light was provided by the full moon. High and staggered clouds were moving across the sky providing a stop and go slide show with the moonlight. And, I was reminded again that one of the principle joys of living in the country is to experience through your senses the world around you in a most intimate way.

Living in Knoxville and sitting quietly in the backyard provided its own revelatory moments. But, a moonlit night in the country has a special quality a city neighborhood lacks.

A loud cough of a buck on the hill signals a failed attempt to cross above me discreetly. Now that deer-hunting season is almost upon us they are moving at night more than in daylight. They know the time for prudence is now. Opening day and we will be greeted by a barrage of gunfire at daylight.

I reached out in the darkness and grabbed the scuppernong vines and gave them a shake. Like large soft heavy raindrops, overripe grapes fell into the wet grass.

Walking back down the slope through the orchard, past the equipment shed, I closed the door to the chicken run. The noise caused the hens to stir. Breathing like an asthmatic child they wheezed and shifted and went back to sleep.

A hammer hitting wood and the clank of clamps and I know Cindy is in our workshop. She has moved on to building a kitchen cupboard with glass doors. The occasional expletive signals a perfectionist’s ongoing struggle with a project that has been well done. I, on the other hand, can scrape the bark off of a branch, call it a walking stick and be absurdly pleased.

After closing the chickens up I lean across the fence and smell the lambs. The sweet smell of wet wool and the poop of an animal that eats forage rise up out of the pasture. They have quiet and meek little bleats. A soft tread in the grass is just audible as they are torn between curiosity and alarm at my presence.

I lean down and pull off and chew a turnip green, what a wonderful explosion of spice, mustard and the texture of a tobacco leaf.

I turn back to the house. All three dogs vie for the honor of walking by my side. They snarl and fight. Robby wins and heels by my left leg as I walk up the steps.

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