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The Farm

I was at the farm over the weekend. It was fun being there with Jaimie, because, to tell you the truth, she’s a little afraid of nature. With good reason- she's allergic to nearly everything. Nature is truly out to get her. She knows it’s a war and her skin and sinuses are on the front lines.

And this weekend nature was on full display. The grass had grown up some since last I was there, giving it a sense of wildness. Every step was fraught was fraught with enemies. Seedlings and bits of grass attached themselves to your pants and socks and shoes. Brown piles of dirt, full of red fire ants, tiny little kamikaze soldiers ready to attack your foot the moment their bunker is breached. There was a wasp nest under the shed. A group of dark black wasps, armed to the teeth, were busy building their home. I stood in silence and watched for a moment, barely breathing, hoping they wouldn't see me.

I sat on the screened-in porch Saturday morning, watching the yard wake up. It was interesting to see the daily battles for survival.

A perfect spider web hanging under the pear tree beside the screened in porch. A beautiful trap for some unsuspecting insect flying around going about its day.

The crows, cawing, sitting in the tree, scanning the yard for food.

The egret swooping over the pond, looking for fish to eat.

There was a butterfly, chaotic in its flying. It was going to and fro with seemingly no objective. It’s yellow wings stood out against the green grass and the blue sky. I watched it avoid the web and anything else that might be trying to eat it. While it was aesthetically pleasing, it seemed ill equipped for the battle. What defenses did it possess? What threat did it pose? Was its best plan to look cute and hope for the best?

Even the plants were part of this on going battle. There was a tree growing around the barn. It’s branches enveloping the old wooded building like it was reclaiming it for its own. There were vines growing under the siding of the house. Sticks and leaves made their way on the roof, the trees marking their territory.

The walnut trees in the side yard. Their hard green orbs crashing against the tin roof of the silo. The sound startled me. Surely that thud left a mark. A dent. It sounded like it would have hurt.

It was fascinating, sitting there in the comfort of the screened in porch, watching these plants and animals going about their business, while external threats lurked all around them.

We try to beat back nature. We cut the grass, we brush away the webs. We pot our plants and spray the ant hills and the wasp nests. But as soon as we turn our back, they go right back to it. The grass grows again. The webs get re-spun. The ants rebuild their mounds. It’s like Sisyphus, rolling his rock up the hill.

Since we as humans have eliminated most of our external threats, ours now come from the inside.

It wasn’t a snake lurking in the grass that was trying to kill me, it was my own cells, mutating, spreading throughout my body.

Maybe it’s easier having the threat be outside of you. At least then you can see the dangers and try to avoid them. How do we avoid what’s inside us? I can eat well and I can exercise, but part of me feels like that yellow butterfly. All over the place. Unequipped. Hoping for the best.

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