The Most Quiet Day of the Year
Those of you who have visited our farm realize we live directly beside a major transportation artery: Interstate 80. Our family’s property was affected by the roadway when it was constructed, and the house my parents live in was moved to its current location as a result of the route (the white house beside the Beef Barn).
The road is a tough neighbor: roaring traffic can be heard from every corner of our farm. White noise from tires is a constant fact of life, and, because we’re located on an interchange, honking horns resulting from poorly choreographed merging strategies are the norm. Traffic near our hay shed is so loud we often have to shout to understand what’s being communicated.
Christmas day, however, offers a once-yearly reprieve. The sun rises to reveal barely a car or truck hammering down the asphalt, and the silence is deafening. I find deep satisfaction in standing still, listening to the spring water splash into our bulls’ drinking tank, and watching steam curl out from their nostrils as they observe my daily chores. On this special day I can hear their deep breathing, birds are audible as they hop from twig to branch in nearby brush, and my own thoughts seem to scream at me as though they’ve failed to adjust to uncharacteristic silence. Indeed, the stillness of Christmas is an event I anticipate all year long.
As is always the case, there is another side of the story surrounding the thoroughfare passing near our property. Because of the road, people from all over are able to easily find us. Indeed, new visitors regularly comment on the simplicity of their trip to the farm: our store is a quarter mile from the interchange. By comparison, I’ve travelled to several farm stores located in the middle of nowhere at the end of a potholed ribbon of mud; certainly the families are wonderful, but the trip takes a toll.
In this sense, I-80 is a tremendous advantage for Clarion. Visitors who stop by our farm often leave and head a few more miles into town for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants serving our beef. There they find a charming Main Street that is loaded with potential for greatness. Cook Forest State Park is only a little farther north, offering a huge range of outdoor activities for everyone.
Quite a few other people are eyeballing the interstate as an asset to Clarion County, but all of them seem bent on developing heavy industry to leverage tractor-trailer accessibility into our region. I see it another way: let’s avoid the ruckus of industry and leverage our region for food. Small farms can thrive in conjunction with the availability of customer access. People from all over can visit this region to see what we have to offer, so let’s give them something good. I see a town supported not by hourly wages, but by vibrant, green, diverse farms and food so pure it’s worth the drive. That’s a place I want to raise a family.
The trucks are back on 80 this morning, and I can hear them through the walls of my office. It’s back to normal for another 364 days, but I don’t mind. That noise is a reminder of potential that can fuel a dream, and I never want to lose focus on what we have to offer. In the meantime, I’ll be happy waiting for Christmas day and a moment of silence in 2019.