It was a glorious sunny day on Saturday. One of those late winter days where even though the temperature was below freezing, the heat of the sun was enough to make you unzip your winter coat. So I packed the mutts up into the car, and took them to the dog park. It’s their favorite place to go for a walk, a 3 acre plot of rolling Oak Savannah, dotted with mud holes and woods, and surrounded by a wire fence. The one place where I can take them off of their leash and let them run wild.
Because of the weather the place was packed with dogs and owners out enjoying the scent of spring. There was much running with the pack, and barking, until exhausted they limped for home and a bowl of food before finding a soft spot on the couch to spend the evening. We returned again on Sunday, but true to Minnesota fashion, the weather had shifted, and we now walked beneath steel gray skies. As much fun as the dogs have when the place is busy, I prefer to be there it when it’s quiet. The hounds sniffed around, and explored to their hearts content this old field that was once the home to a farm. In the woods by the entrance, the old foundations of the farmhouse still sit surrounded by new grown birch.
I’ve always been attracted to places like this where the remains of earlier ages still linger in their slow surrender to time. The empty spaces where the vestiges of the past still cast a shadow on the landscape. Whether it is the stone foundations of old homesteads overgrown with weeds, or the crumbling hulks of old factories, I am always drawn to place my hand on the ruins and imagine the lives of those who built them. Did they know how transitory their creations would be? For that matter, do we?
No. No person would sacrifice their blood and sweat into raising up a monument unless they expected it to outlive them. Yet nothing outlives decay. Even the great pyramids will someday become a pile of sand, long after the names of the pharaohs who built them have been forgotten. Go to any rural part of America and you can see farmhouses whose busted windows look like empty eye sockets, the skeletons of an agrarian country that no longer exists.
Standing along the edge of the field I could almost hear the wire fence singing in the wind. Or maybe it was the ghosts of the pioneers who broke the sod, and tamed the land that were singing to me. The dogs seemed not to notice, absorbed in tracking the scent of some animal through the woods. Putting my hands in my pockets to warm them, I closed my eyes and felt the cold wind blowing over the field. If I listened close enough I thought I could hear their voices through the soft hum of the breeze. Whispering their advice to generations who followed in their footsteps. “Put your energy into love. In the end it is all that will remain.”