Paths to Nowhere

                                         [Please click on thumbnail photos for a larger, clearer image]

It may seem as though I’m on the road or on the river quite a bit, but actually I spend far more time on the “back forty,” on my small acreage with its paths behind the house. I often like the homebound feeling that has no compass for the hills beyond; I like to do nothing every now and then, my view encompassed by a stroll perhaps, my thoughts wrapped in a pensive, meditative mood, with nowhere to go but here.

A ramble takes no account of work, school or the mall. There’s no fishing here, no hunting, shopping, or warring with the elements. Tonight I’ll listen to the barred owl’s eight-note calling, to the blue jay’s squawk, and the catbird’s mew. I’ll check out the latest blossoms to appear– the goldenrod, the aster and the turtlehead. I’ll walk the paths that lead through blackberry vines, poplar trees, autumn olives, and hundreds of Norway spruce, red pine, and wild apple trees. I won’t go anywhere, really.

I’ll stop to contemplate the grave of our old dog, Brook, and peer upward at the aging barn. That building has seen the happier days of agriculture well before my time, as well as the years of land abuse that I can only speculate about. A part of this place is growing wild. A part of it has been an anchorhold. I’ll walk on it, simultaneously apart from and a part of its earthen character, going nowhere on its circular paths, and pleased for your company.

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About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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4 Responses to Paths to Nowhere

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s nice to get a look at Owls Farm. How old is the barn? There are very few old barns in my area. Here on a busy island in Puget Sound these structures are a notable reminder of days long ago and of activities in few folks memories. On Bainbridge Island an old house was erected when FDR was president.

  2. The barn at Owl Farm is pretty old, maybe since the mid-1800s; I know the house was here in 1857, according to old town maps. Sadly most the old dairy barns around here are broken and abandoned, testament to the change in small farm and town life everywhere. Here, as in Puget Sound, they’re like wooden grave markers, fading reminders of long ago. But we try to hang on. Thanks for commenting!

    • Fred B says:

      I helped “lower” an old barn this summer. Definitely some mixed feelings about it, but it was nice to see the old siding reused into a very worthy project. More than the walls and roof though, tearing down a barn removes a space, or volume, which somehow seems even more significant…

      • Fred,
        Several massive beams from an old barn now support my mother’s place near Greenwood. It’s nice to sit and contemplate the barn that was by looking at those beams, and yet another bit of history is gone.

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