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Saturday essay: Portrait of a farm

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Friday, March 29, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

A friend is contemplating buying an old farm.

But there's some hesitance.

A child fears her parent might become isolated, perhaps disconnected from the world.

But for what else are old farms?

A financial adviser cautions of the vagaries of the modern world; money spent now might be needed later.

But once only we really do live.

The friend revels in the premise of a well-preserved farmstead.

The house is pristine.

The stables, ghostly in their emptiness, would, filled, comfort, not haunt, horse and handler alike.

The acreage itself is a powerful enough elixir, natural and rolling, punctuated here and there only by more nature.

And that pond.

And those swans.

One's very own Walden.

Ah, but didn't Thoreau, in “Walden,” warn that “It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or a county jail”?

Yes. But Thoreau got the “county jail” part as wrong as Whitman got the farm part right in “A Farm Picture”:

Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,

A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding;

And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.

Buy the farm, friend. Buy the farm.

— Colin McNickle

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