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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What We Look For

On my farm, I have what's called a "pole barn," meaning its frame is composed of deeply-sunk telephone poles, its body fleshed out with old heavy barnwood boards, and its roof of long corrugated panels of green steel. It was originally a storage building with a shedrow of cow stalls along the back. The inside is still used for storage: the tractor, the horse trailer, the riding mower, the manure spreader and bush hog. The three shedrow stalls I stripped of their old dangerous feeders, cleaned up, reinforced, laid with rubber mats, and outfitted with horse appropriate doors some six odd years ago when the horses came home. It isn't the world's prettiest barn, but the horses like it; it keeps them dry and safe. I have great hay storage and nice run-under shelter for when it rains. Do I wish I had an adorable red wood barn with white trim and center aisle? Yes. But this is what I have, and it works, and that's what counts.

Because it isn't built to any kind of standard, neither is the barnyard pen fence; its posts are railroad ties stood up on their ends, some of which tower over my head, like this one, right at the main pedestrian gate.

Last night, as I was putting the horses away, I glanced up and spotted this little guy - or gal - looking all kinds of tiny and ferocious. When I stepped in close to take her picture, she cocked her head in that unnerving mantis way and gave me a glare of pure insect challenge. Come on. I dare ya. Seeing her made me smile; one of those tiny feats of nature that made me glad I'd had my head on the swivel and hadn't been hemmed in with tunnel vision. There are innumerable tiny delights that cross our paths every day, but if we're always on the hunt, always looking for something in particular, we are unable to feel the simple joy of the unexpected. I could have missed the mantis. I could miss the more charming details of my old pole barn because it wasn't what I was looking for.

source: Pinterest
I found this graphic on Pinterest and it sums up something I've been thinking about lately. I love to begin new books, to dive in with no expectations and be completely swept away with the story the author has chosen to tell. But if you enter a book looking for one point in particular, you'll doubtless find yourself disappointed. If you're looking for one thing, and that one thing isn't there, all you'll be able to see of the novel is what it's lacking, rather than what other splendid things it offers. I like to read without tunnel vision, with a clear head, receptive to all the little lines and paragraphs and plot points that will endear the novel to me. Don't go looking inside a book, I say; let the tiny feats sweep you away, and see it.  

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