Older people’s bodies are past their peak, but somehow they are substantial—they have a weight to them, a presence, my tall thin body does not have. (And middle-aged bodies are adult, but not proven, not patriarchal, not time tested.) Theirs are the bodies of patriarchs and matriarchs—I’m culturally an overgrown adolescent. Their bodies are not what you would consider attractive, not by current sexual standards or even by classical (Greek) sculptural standards either. And while their bodies do show signs of wear or use—my grandma’s blue leg veins from her pregnancies, my grandpa’s perpetually flexed fingers that were cut by the saw—I don’t mean their their bodies are worn out like a miner’s body. More like the idea that their bodies have significance now beyond their physical form. They have raised a family and maintained a farmstead, and they have nourished their bodies with food from the same land they live on—for 36 years now, their bodies have [been] of this land and for this land.
As living creatures, they surely will one day die—and that is surely hard to imagine. They are still too strong, too hale and hearty, too strong of the life force and one with this land. What this farm is—the animals, the mowed lawn, the living gardens—is a function of their ongoing activity. This is a rich and lively community and something so rare on farms these days is the simple fact of animals—chickens, goats, dogs here on this farm. And these are only because of the ongoing commitment that they make to keeping this community going. It ‘s because they do chores every day that this farm is what it still is. If my grandma decided she didn’t want to get up, go out, and milk twice a day, her goats would be gone and this would be a different, and I think diminished, place.
[From journals written Friday 18 Aug. 2000, in Journal 28, page 105-7]