Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Armchair travels

   I once wrote to myself "a true journey is only as far as walking out your front door". That was in an old travel journal. This winter I've come to learn that it is as far as the armchair. Maybe I'm getting older. But, we have been watching the National Park DVD by Ken Burns and really enjoying it. I'm seeing places that I will probably never be able to go. We don't tend to have the kind of money to travel to Yosemite or places as wonderful as that, nor is it easy to find the time with the kind of farming we do. Not yet! Perhaps someday.
   The show has inspired me to do some reading though. I have been looking up the famous people mentioned in the show, such as John Muir, and have realized I have been remiss on not reading their words sooner. Such eloquent words describing our natural wonders. I have also been inspired to read a book entitled "Eight months in Illinois" by William Oliver, written in 1841. If you are interested in what Illinois was like, wild and natural as well as agriculture and commerce, this is a book for you! Wonderful descriptions of landscape and natural beauty, farms and their products, the way of life on the prairie.
   With all of this inspiration to get out in nature more, I've been thinking about how so many people don't get to go to fantastic sites around the nation, and for the same reason as money and no time off of work. But, to be able to see it on t.v. or read about it helps. However, Marty and I tend to travel our own back yard (so to speak). Once in a while, and not often enough, we go for a drive. This time of year is best as the foliage is off the trees and we can really see the architecture of the farm buildings and the lay of the land. We drive for hours sometimes, seeing wildlife and nature from the car, stopping occasionally to walk or visit an historic site in some town.
   Statistics show that most museums and nature centers have the majority of their visitors from further away, not from towns nearby. But, with the rising cost of gas, Marty and I are travelling closer and closer to home this year. I look out the window and see the trees of the woods, the deer eating our alfalfa, the little birds in the really is just outside the front door.
   Farms like ours are teaming with life and nature, livestock and wild animals, mushrooms and leaves, and worms. Our friend Mark Edwards used to come and tell us about a view on our farm, a vista that he had seen. We would go look at our farm through his eyes and not see the work needing done or the caretaking, but the beauty. We really appreciate visitors showing us our farm in a different light, helping us look past the every day-ness of it and into the beauty.  Some think it might bother us to stop our work and visit with them...think again! It makes us take time from work to enjoy visiting with someone and take time to see the farm anew again. It is a gentle reminder of how blessed we are to be able to live on such beautiful land, giving land. And, how we must be doing an okay job taking care of it to still have the wildlife, native plants, worms, etc. Not every farm can say that today.
   So...I encourage you to look at the world right outside your door, be an armchair traveler if you must, but don't forget to see the world right in front of you also. Enjoy a drive in the countryside, see places that have been there since before man came, see the historic sites, enjoy the landscapes and farmscapes. Or take a walk down the city street and notice the flowers, trees, insects (yes, there are insects in the city), birds, and architechure. Don't struggle to go to another state or some popular amusement park if you can't afford it, enjoy the amusement park of nature all around you. And, if you are out this way...stop by and say hi. We'd love to stop and visit with you!


  1. It appears your "true journey" is getting shorter and shorter! (from front door to arm chair).


  2. Well, I declare! You have caught up with me. I've been an armchair traveler for years now and have found it just as interesting as actually going to those places I'd love to really visit. My best traveling is now done with the television shows; they go farther than I could ever go, considering how slow a person goes the older they get. So, those shows plus my memories of places I have visited make for enjoyable moments spent (at this time) in a warm house with a good cup of tea. Welcome to my world! It really gets much better....