When I bought this old farm my neighbors were old farmers. Traffic
was generally of the tractor variety, so not much at all. But,as Bob Dylan sang, 'The times, they are a'changin.' The old
farmers died and for a long time their land was leased to mega-farmers who were not local. They'd arrive each spring with
huge costly equipment, prepare the fields, plant corn and beans that they'd harvest in the fall and then vanish. That's just
how it was--until recently.
The field to the north sold and the
new home under construction is all the chatter on the road, although most of it is speculation; owners in their 40's, no kids,
just a dog and they drive expensive cars. Sounds good to me, especially the no kids and just a dog part.
But, to the east, the changes are rather worrisome as that property directly adjoins this one. Until several months
ago the occupants were a quiet old man who liked to mow his grass and his middle-aged son who waved when he drove down the
road. Never any problems unless the old guy decided to shoot a skunk from his bathroom window at 2:00 AM. Then he died and
relatives who had never been seen before arrived like ants at a picnic and all peace and quiet disappeared.They were the dukes
of hazard and that's where an event occured last week that emphasized just how much has changed around here.
Loud profanity sifted through the trees that balmy afternoon. Odd, I thought, but not my business until the altercation
escalated. Around these parts, any cussing disagreements take place behind closed doors if they take place at all. (We like
to think we are all quite civilized....) Then, the ambulance arrived.
lights and the beep, beep, beep of a backing vehicle drew me from my office to creep down the nature trail to investigate.
Peeking around pine trees that border my property and that where the dukes had been having their dispute I saw two strange
women wringing their hands as an EMT worked on a strange man lying flat out in the middle of the lawn. 'Not my business, I
reminded myself and returned to my office, but 45 minutes later I crept back to the pines for another peek.
The fellow who had been on the ground was on a gurney being loaded into the ambulance. This is only remarkable because
nearly a week later absolutely no one on the road, nor anyone else knows anything about the incident. Who were these people?
Was someone shot, stabbed, knocked out? A heart attack perhaps? No one has a clue--or cares. It's not even road gossip.
I miss the old days when tractors driven by old men in dirty coveralls sputtered up the road; old guys like Kenny.
I miss him and his farm (pictured above before it was razed) where despite all the junk that littered the place, it represented
a quieter time. Everyone looked out for Kenny. We took his free-ranging cows home when they wandered down the road and we
all mourned when he died. I miss Mr. G, the oddball who lived further down the road and rode a mule that was more suited for
a ten year old than for a grown man. The saddle he plunked on the little molly was big enough for a Percheron horse. He was
a curious sight and he frequently elicited tsk, tsks from neighbors, but like Kenny, he's also gone. I miss Mr. C. who looked
like an old movie star, chattered away like a squirrel and who used to plow a ridiculously-large garden plot for me.Even the
guy from what was locally called Filthy Farm was a popular subject of road gossip, especially when the manure in his barn
grew so copius that it blew out a side wall. Later, the fire department used that barn for a 'training drill' but they weren't
aware of the explosives hidden in the rafters. That sure woke things up around here and provided fodder for lots of talk.
But, all that has changed. Now a supine stranger being hauled off in an ambulance
doesn't even rate road gossip. I miss the way things were.