Sunday, March 15, 2015

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Cats.

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I'm going to take a brief break from the travel updates to brag about my Spring Break. This past week, the snow melted and the sun came out, and I got to sleep and watch half a season of Parks and Rec. I spent the first couple of days up at the farm and it was so pleasant that even the compost pail looked pretty.

My parents and I took a walk while we were up at the Farm, on what we call the North 80. Eighty acres on the north side of the road. You get the drift. It felt like such a long time since I was up there last. I used to be at the farm almst every weekend. School would finish on Friday and my mother would whisk me away to the north country for a weekend of family and food and British sitcoms. I kind of resented it when I got old enough to realize that the other teenagers were hanging out without me down in Milwaukee. But now the Farm feels special again, since I so rarely actually get to shake off the responsibilities that hold me in the city.

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The Farm is a place unlike any other. (I'm not biased. No, how dare you.) But really, it is. It doesn't produce crops anymore, and the barn is no longer home to cows. When searching for a explanation, I call it a wildlife preserve, because the property is now a place where nature is simply meant to go its way. My uncles hunt, and my aunts garden, but the rest of the fields and forests run wild. My father walks around and listens for birds.

The farm house is over a hundred years old. My aunts tell stories of how several generations back, the Native Americans who lived in the area would come in on cold winter nights and sleep in the kitchen. Now the kitchen continues to be a place where stories get passed around the table with the bowl of potatoes, and a member of the family might walk in the door at any moment, with a holler of greeting. And with the slower way time moves at the Farm, you can stop what you're doing and visit. That's the family verb: to visit.

I try to spend some time visiting with our barn cat and furry friend. She showed up a couple of years ago and quickly proved herself to be one of the friendliest strays to whom we'd ever played host. And she stayed, to let us pet her and feed her at our leisure. I had brainstormed a set of really elegant names for her, like Ophelia and Esmerelda, but my uncle dubbed her Shaggy, and so she's stayed. Shaggy the farm cat.

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