Archive for November 14th, 2007

On my way into the big city every morning, I drive through some of the most beautiful rural countryside in Fayette County, and as time progresses, I watch more and more of it disappear. 

No, land doesn’t actually disappear.  In fact, as Gerald O’Hara states in that epic of romantic Southern fiction, Gone With the Wind, “Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts. ” 

Well, okay, I don’t quite hold with that sentiment, because I happen to think that people are the only the only thing worth all that, but there’s no denying that this Southern girl has a deep bond to the rich red soil of Georgia.  Maybe it’s because I spent so much time away from it, growing up in the military, and yet my soul has a spiritual umbilical running back to my mother’s agricultural heritage.  Either way, it moves me.

But the rural characteristics of the land around me, the land-ness of it, is rapidly disappearing beneath the manicured landscaping and cookie-cutter predictability of over-priced subdivisions as Metro Atlanta creeps ever farther outward, towards the rural heart of Georgia.  When I soak in the autumn morning sun on vast fields of hay grown to sustain cattle over the wintering, when I gaze on relics of country homes still surrounded by towering oaks and pecan trees, I cannot help but wonder how long they can maintain their stoic eloquence in the dauntless advance of suburban development.

Sandy Creek Road is one of those places, and last week I observed with pain that a large swath of pastureland had suddenly been cleared and tilled over. It was only a matter of time, I supposed, before this too would be covered in the “McMansions” of the New South.  But today, as I was driving along, a sight so comforting and reassuring stopped me, and made me turn around, go back, and take a second look. 

IH TractorThere it was, in all its dusty splendor, the International Harvester Farmall 1066, manufactured prior to 1976.  Now, there’s no logical reason why old farm equipment should be comforting; afterall, it’s machinery, a tool for working, not for giving comfort to the soul.  But I, having expected on any day to see a herd of heavy industrial earth-moving machines preparing the landscape for half-million dollar homes, found much comfort in that one old tractor resting in that tilled field.  It was not the equipment of a large construction crew.  It was the tool of one lone man, the only evidence of him being the barncoat draped carelessless over the tractor seat.

And in that brief moment, I drank in the morning air, felt the softened ground beneath my boots, and savored the thought that maybe, just maybe, he was preparing the field for winter grazing crops, or for an early spring planting, and not for suburban architecture.  I could be wrong, of course, and I probably am, but the sun on my face, the autumn breeze in my hair, and that tractor in my camera frame stopped the progress of development for just that one moment.

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