The way our would-be straight lines fall on the land, whether along the contour or across it, makes me think of clothes on a body — the farther from town, the more natural the fit. From highway to road to lane, it’s the same-size wheels, but then for the crops they must grow, sprout treads. Suddenly escape is no longer an option: if we want to eat, we must slow down and pay attention to every detail.
Why any of this should amaze me is difficult to explain. As long as I’ve lived in the country — almost all my life — I am still a creature of books and screens and flat Cartesian spaces with their promises of freedom. I must continually remind myself that power is round: gears. Coins. Bellies. The sockets in which our animal limbs revolve as we wander the globe.
Why Monday and not Saturday, the Amish woman wonders as she hangs out the wash, darks and lights together. The breeze swells a kerchief the same way the earth ripples under the fields. Aren’t weaving and harrowing pretty much the same? Her eyes still lazy from Sunday follow a hedgerow up to where the woods start in earnest — a good thing, because desire works best within limits. It’s a sin to want more than what you can properly attend to. She gazes at the mountain, a long, low ridge nearly identical to all the others she’s known since childhood. Every few miles another mountain, like a permanent Sabbath rising between weeks of fields.