lundi, décembre 11, 2006


This past Saturday morning the house was quiet-children with their dad, my neighbors sleeping in or already gone, the nocturnal animals returned to their lairs until nightfall. In the bedroom, our orange tabby slumbered off the effects of her morning exercise chasing game pieces and bottletops across the dining room floor. With all of these forces inviting me to procrastinate, I was proud that I made it to Bethany Farm before 9:00. Not too proud-the farm is only a couple of miles down the road from me. The air was frosty when I got out of my car, farmers nowhere in sight. Christmas trees, both cut and with root balls still attached, filled the field nearest the road. Shivering, eager to make my choice of tree and be done, I walked towards the sound of voices-they seemed to emanate from the milking barn. Introducing myself to Farmer Dan, I hastily balanced the advantages of white-barked pine, Norway Spruces, and Fraser Firs. This year, I decided to buy a live tree-impetous as usual, I figured that I would dig the hole for the tree myself-after all, how hard could this be? I have to admit that I'm really excited about returning a tree to the ground instead of putting it out for the recyclers. Farmer Dan told me that his main business is raw milk-free of the antibiotics that goes into the stuff sold in the grocery store chains. Take the cream off the top, and you have fat-free milk. Leave it in, and you have milk the way your anscestors drank it 3000 years ago (apparently lactose tolerance is relatively new on the evolutionary chain). As we talked, we stumbled into one of those amazing minutes of serendipity-turns out that he is related to one of my best friends. She and he come from the stock of two brothers who settled in this area more than 300 years ago-and never left. When he bought his farm and took a look at the ownership papers, he found out that the land (and the fields across from Bethany) had been farmed by his (great?) grandparents a hundred years ago. After arranging for delivery of the tree, I drove out towards the mall, very aware of the irony of this pilgrimage to the altar of materialism. Still, I was warmed in the chilly air by the conversation with Farmer Dan-by his affirmation of the value of faith, community and family. In an era of exburban developments and bland malls, Bethany, with its stock of milk and homemade bread and apples, does indeed seem anomalous. Named, said Farmer Dan, in honor of the hospitality Mary and Martha offered Jesus, it welcomes weary travelers not sure of what they want, or even of what they need.

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