a friend returning home

Been thinking a lot about the Farm these days. Thinking how the winter there is completely different than the summer, not so much for the obvious reasons like temperature, but more so for the simple luxuries of a season. A season where the smell of wood stoves is present; a time when animals tuck themselves away for the winter and thoughts about things like bears getting into the trash is less of a worry; a season of a winding trail through the woods, with a river who offers a sound slightly louder than silence in the trickling and winding flow of water under a now seemingly completely iced over top.

I love the Farm in every season.

I have been thinking a lot of the Farm lately. For many reasons. One reason is that my good friend TSO, of Travelin' Shoes, is returning home. Back to the Farm where we all met. I am a little more than envious. I think of the Farm as home and getting back there only ever brings joy to me.

In all this thinking about the Farm, and returning to places that feel like home, I was reminded of a poem that our friend B1 recited one day as a couple of us drove into GB, a nearby city.

How to Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns is like an unsettled feeling in the blood, the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.

A man and a dog descend their front steps.The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.

Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.

But in his sense of the season, the man is struck by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid until it seems he can see remembered faces caught up among the dark places in the trees.

The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.

Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie, he says to himself, a movie about a person leaving on a journey. He looks down the street to the hills outside of town and finds the cut where the road heads north. He thinks of driving on that road and the dusty smell of the car heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.

The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.

In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark. Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder, where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights, shine like small cautions against the night. Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.

The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie downby the fire and put our tails over our noses.

But the man wants to drive all night, crossing one state line after another, and never stopuntil the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.

Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hilland there, filling a valley, will be the lightsof a city entirely new to him.

But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside. Let’s not do anything tonight. So theywalk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.

How is it possible to want so many things and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep and wants to hit his head again and again against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?

But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich. Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.

And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator as if into the place where the answers are kept-the ones telling why you get up in the morning and how it is possible to sleep at night, answers to what comes next and how to like it.

~ Stephen Dobyns


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