I still wonder at the transformation that continues to manifest itself in my life. After moving to this rural community 4 years ago, we revelled in the garden and it has grown (thanks far more to Ben's efforts than my own: I am the harvester-cook, not the digger-planter) to a satisfyingly grand scale. But the "back 40", as I like to call the wild portion of our 1.4 acres beyond the vegetable garden, has slowly gotten out of control. The first two years we hired in someone to disc & plant it for us, so we had beautiful buckwheat one summer with sunflowers mixed in, then winter wheat the following spring. But that was expensive and somewhat unpredictable as we depended upon our neighbors with farming equipment to do this for us. So we gave up the last couple of years and watched it go to weeds.
Last week Ben took the plunge and, after doing his typically meticulous research, bought a secondhand 1950 Ford tractor -- beautifully maintained and restored -- and several huge attachments including a bush hog. Who would have thought how utterly exciting I would find this addition! It means we can now begin to truly shape the land, take control of our own property and make something really wonderful. I can even imagine learning how to drive it myself. It is so beautifully simple and straightforward! It all makes clear sense. And it is so beautiful. I drove in yesterday from a week away and saw it sitting in the drive next to Ben's Subaru and was jsut thrilled. You might remember my earlier posts about tractor ribbons and the tractor parade, so to have a sweet machine of our own like this is fabulous.
This morning in a short space of time Ben jumped on it and bush-hogged (what a word) the weeds in back, and though it is scruffy and ugly at the moment it is now a ripe slate for our visions. Ben wants to build a labyrinth suitable for riding horses in (something he has been working toward with his sister Cordelia , for the Labyrinth Society Gathering this fall). I would love to see a field of lavender out there some day. We are this much closer to those visions now.
I should note that Ben is particularly in his element here -- a lifelong connection satisfied. His family was in the farm machinery business as Nicholson's of Newark, for a century, winning gold medals at the Great Exhibition for their innovative equipment. Ben was raised in the expectation that he would take over the business, but in the 1970's the business went under in the dire British economy and Ben went on to architecture school instead. I hope he will mount the Nicholson's tractor seat (which currently hangs over the front door) on his new baby.