Why Leave the Highways and Take the Backroads?

Journey with these inspirational words from “outdoor editorial” writer Hal Borland (1900-1978), compiled by Dan Shine, historian, writer, and photographer.  What spiritual message do you hear or see?

The Abandoned Farm

Leave the main highways, take the back roads, then get out and walk. Up the hillsides you may find the old farms, long since overgrown, cellar holes caved in, barns now a rubble, dooryards occasionally marked by a gnarled old lilac bush. The hayfields and upland pastures are thick with oak and ash and maple, the farm roads are mere traces, gullied and overgrown. Those who lived there worked the land out, grew old, and passed away.

Photography by Dan Shine

Photography by Dan Shine

Often there is the persistent remnant of an orchard, a few old apple trees with frosted little apples like colorful balls on grotesque gray Christmas trees. Ground cedar often grows there, adding green festoons, and pine and cedar form a backdrop. Deer come there for the frosted apples, and foxes for rabbits. Grouse roar in sudden flight at human approach. Jays jeer and chickadees call from the pines. It is a strangely busy and even festive place, deserted though it is.

Photography by Dan Shine

Photography by Dan Shine

Practical people wonder why those forgotten hillside farmers left the valleys. The valley land has deeper soil, better shelter, more water, is easier of access. But when one stands on such a hillside and looks out across the valleys, one comes to at least a glimmer of understanding. There always have been among us those whose eyes need distance and whose minds refuse to see the hills as barriers or the valleys as refuges. Always there have been those who found satisfaction in living a little apart, and for them the easy way never is the happy one. Those farmers are gone, but their human strain lives on, leavening the race, knowing that ease and efficiency are not enough.
-Hal Borland
Nov. 1953

Photography by Dan Shine

Photography by Dan Shine


What do these words & photos say to you?

I can almost feel the moss on my fingers and smell the fallen leaves.  I relate to the people who need a little more space in the vast outdoors.  I relate to the hard work of the farmers and imagine another time.  I feel grateful for the blessing of life during this time with all the amenities of modern life , yet also appreciate the beauty of the world these farmers lived in.  I am reminded that my mind, spirit, and body are nurtured by nature, and this must be a priority to ensure my wholistic health.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About courtholmes

Nurse Practitioner, Faith Community Nurse, Parish Nurse, Certified Wound Specialist, DNP Student at Quinnipiac University, Social Media Enthusiast... Passionate about integrating faith and health! CT Faith Community Nurses on Twitter @CTFCN

Posted on January 24, 2015, in Inspiration, Spiritual and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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