Monday, February 19, 2007

A Walk Around the Block: Part One

Stepping outside the door, I cut across a corner of the lawn underneath the large Chinese Elm tree with a half dozen assorted racks of deer antlers nestles among the crooks and crannies. The smooth white bone stands out brilliantly among the rough dark bark and green foliage, yet I hardly notice them. I guess familiarity brings complacency. I walk down the driveway on the east side of the house crossing over the bridge spanning a ditch that only runs with rain and on out to the gravel road, one eighth of a mile from the house.

Turning west, I set out along the shoulder of the gravel road. The fencerow of Bois d'Arc trees on the north side of the row was removed almost twenty years ago and still I feel bare as if I am missing an article of clothing. A quarter of mile from the driveway, the fencerow of dying elm trees that used to mark the western boundary of the Abbey's 120-acre field is also gone, removed perhaps ten years ago. Coming up to the fence, you only see more corn with no breaks.

Another quarter mile up on the right is the home of the closest neighbors, an Amish family. It is a satellite house of a larger conglomerate of houses a half mile to the northwest and has housed many of the elder Zimmerman's children as they begin families of their own and then move farther from the nest. The youngest son, Joe now lives there with his wife Sarah and occasionally stops me on my walks to give me a bit of their latest batch of summer sausage or goats milk ice cream. Today, no one is in sight but the freshly turned soil of the garden with nary a weed in sight and Tuesday's laundry hanging on the line assure me that they are around.

Just past where the 40 acre parcel of the Zimmerman farm end on the north side of the road, lays the beginning of the vast Well farm that the Abbey's have farmed for over fifty years. It's an eighty acre parcel with 60 acres gently sloping back towards the eastern half which is a mixture of clover, alfalfa and scrub timber growing up in the draw. I sometimes drop into the draw and search for morel mushrooms in the spring on the back of an old farm pond with the dam washed out and grown up in trees but rarely do I find any to pick. I find lots of stumps of where they had been growing probably the day before and know the Zimmerman's have beaten me to them. That's okay because I still find plenty in other places.

Now a mile into my journey I come to a gravel crossroad and also to the border between two counties. On the northeast, northwest and southwest corners are 80 acres parcels of the Well's farm and the remaining corner belonged to a former family friend whom I've written about before and is currently serving one count of twenty years in prison for molesting his daughter and is being tried for thirty more counts of child molestation against two more girls of families that live several miles further west. It's a memory that I would rather not have to think about.

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