Though I think mine is a fair question, I have never asked, Otis, why do you call this a farm? Yet, nearly every time I have turned through the rugged stone columns, that question comes to mind. Crossing the threshold of the entrance, you gradually ascend to the first of two humpbacks. At its pinnacle, your gaze is drawn downward to the perfectly manicured grounds, and the centerpiece of the landscape - the lake. A boat house, dock, ascetically placed benches, Adirondack chairs, and trellised vineyards are only a smattering of the artistry the biblical Adam's offspring use to follow the injunction to tame and cultivate their world. With that, do the images I describe evoke the succinct, two syllable description The Farm?
Nonetheless, I am staying in a log house, at Scarborough Farms, where Tennessee Walkers are raised and trained to compete (but never planted and harvested to eat).
I pour my fresh brewed coffee into a thermal cup and am out the door shortly after daybreak. Ever present are the four dogs. One is named Lou; the others I just call Dog 2, Dog 3, and Dog 4. They love people. I no more than crack the door when I hear them tearing through fallen leaves to greet me. I continue out the door and cross the deck. I am like the Pied Piper and his entourage as Lou, Dog 2, Dog 3, and Dog 4 follow me stride for stride toward the rising sun. In the crisp morning air our breath trails behind us and dissipate. Squirrels, who differ little from the dogs, except in size and the ability to climb trees, are chasing each other around a large oak, spiraling upward like the stripe on a candy cane. Bark is flying as they scamper skyward. Neither gravity nor my presence has any effect them.
To read and write is my purpose for hiking to this spot, but the canines are driving me crazy. Lou continually drops sticks and pine cones in my lap - she wants to play fetch. I don't. I decide I will feign sleep. A few minutes pass, and I cannot hear or smell the dogs. In a really sneaky way, I open one eye to see if the dogs have abandoned me to look for someone or something less boring. Doggone dogs are gone (The old act-like-you-are-asleep trick worked)!
Steam is rising through the sipping hole in my coffee cup like smoke through a chimney. Just as a helium balloon will rise higher and higher, earth's star is floating higher and higher above the edge of the world it scaled just minutes ago. Horses are peacefully grazing just beyond the fence - the only barrier that separates us.
Where I stand is a thin place - the thinnest of barrier separates the physical from the spiritual. I am comfortably alone.