The backyard on a ranch can look a bit different than other backyards. Such as your backyard in Georgetown, downtown Chicago, Manhattan (may I never live in Manhattan), or Santa Monica. May I never live in any of those places. If there are a high number of tractors in the surrounding fifty square miles, then I will probably be good.
Here’s what is currently living in my backyard. Tractors. Pretty big ones. Not that big by Midwest commodity standards, but big enough for coastal California farming. My boys are pleased, that’s for certain. These New Hollands are pretty cool. They also come in a double-tire version which is great if you need to roll over a large battalion of gophers at one time.
In epic fantasy terms, these tractors are the equivalent of ogres, large trolls, small dragons, or even mid-sized giants.
Gotta love these track Cases. They’re cooler than the Challengers that Caterpillar makes, but people around here tend to use Challengers more.
My life revolves around farming. It has to, of course, because I certainly don’t make a living from writing books or any other sort of creative pursuit. I live on a ranch, I work on ranches, I drive through and past ranches every day. I have mud all over my car, in my car, in my house (no matter how often we vacuum). Dirt everywhere. The dirt is important, if you haven’t caught my focus yet.
From the dirt we came, from it we were formed, and to it we shall return.
The dirt is where most of our lives originate. At least, in one sense. Food grows from it, whether you are an herbivore or an omnivore. In the case of omnivores, we also eat a plant-based diet, merely one step removed. Building materials, elements for computers, batteries, cars, dishwashers and windmills–it all comes from the dirt.
Dirt is inexorable. That’s not much of a surprise, as different aspects of creation tend to reflect different aspects of the creator.
However, even though this humble refrigerator, which someone so kindly decided to share with us by dumping it on a ranch (along with a bonus suitcase), originated from the dirt, I’m not that happy to see it return. Not to this particular dirt.
I suppose some might wonder if the abandoner was simply an artist creating art. After all, there’s a good argument that this superbly placed refrigerator, with accompanying suitcase, is more artistic than a banana duct-taped to the wall. But then again, there are many crazy people in the world.
One of my favorite winter pastimes is chasing away teenagers who come to go off-roading in their four-wheel drives. They rearrange the dirt a little too aggressively. They dig gouges in the roads. They spray mud all over the place. They also seem clueless, either deliberately or from true ignorance, of private property rights. I’ve caught a few of them, during which I lecture them on the error of their ways, pointing out that the farmer must spend time, labor and fuel (all equating to money, of course) on regrading the roads they’re ripping up.
And would the teenagers like me to come drive around on their front lawn? They usually stare back at me with glazed eyes, mouths slightly ajar, as if some crucial spark exited that door several months ago and never bothered to return.
Dirt. From dirt we come, the dirt we rearrange, and then to the dirt we return. Thank God there’s more to it than that.
The view from my office window in winter is representational of the mildness of California. We are mild in all things except sanity. If you need to enjoy an extreme position or if you simply need to thaw out your frozen extremities due to living in the Dakotas, etc., then California is the state for you.
I’ve been trying to leave for decades, but I’m afraid this place is like a magnet to the recycled iron filings of my soul.
The view from my office window this morning. Rain, rain, come again. California needs more rain. California needs a lot of things. But not too much rain, or we’ll start flooding.
Rain and mist on the mountains always reminds me of Susan Cooper’s The Grey King. That’s a great book, if you haven’t read it. Part of a series of modern Arthurian fantasy. She creates a powerful sense of place in that book, the mountains of Wales, almost permanently enshrouded in mists and storms, the tops often hidden and giving one the odd sensation that there are new and higher mountains behind the storm clouds, unseen on sunny days and only manifest in dark weather.