During an absolutely revelatory weekend in Pennsylvania, I noticed an oddity about the houses in this small town– there were no fences between them.
The lawns spread into one-another, with little more than a planted row of trees down the middle of a large field to separate them in any way. “Oh, yeah, our yard is their yard and their’s is ours,” a cousin of mine remarked. “We used to run around in their field day after day,” my uncle reminisced. Looking out over the wide-open green that connected far more than the six houses I could directly see, felt so open and airy. Later in he night we lit giant lanterns and let them float up over the blackened town. I could’t help but think that we wouldn’t be able to experience such a simple joy if the lawns were cut into sharp picketed squares.
What a beautiful idea. This is our space because we are all one community. Your neighbors are an extension of family here. How much more free would we feel getting rid of some fences that trap us. It felt as if the physical representation of the fence just compounds nay feelings of disconnect or isolation that we feel in our daily lives. The physical openness carries into the lifestyles of the people. Their kitchen are open to those who need a warm meal, and their hearts are open to any extensions of family that present themselves.
I got to stand at the foot of a loomingly large, tree covered, defunct cement factory, and tour an old grain-mill. I began to understand what is longed for when people discuss the, “good old days.” It has nothing to do with politics, or progressivism. What they are mourning is the loss of connectedness. The loss of a process that is slow and perfect. They are missing days when their children ran across unfenced fields until the sun went down. There is something in the slow craftfulness of things that are now virtually extinct. There is a price to pay for all of the convenience and luxury. The price might just be the loss of some integrity, and the loss of some family. That is truly something to be longed for.
Below are just a few more pictures that struck me as symbols of time as it passes, despite our best efforts to slow it.
What are your thoughts? Is there a place that you go to feel some relief from the passing of time?