We walked along the railroad tracks. The sun rose high, sending frequent, fleeting memories of warmth through the cooling fall air. One’s gait along railroad ties is always a bit awkward. Every plank is far too frequent to please the rhythms of a casual saunter. Every other feels like bounding, but not quite. This step stretches just beyond comfort. It makes you acutely aware of your feet. Where you place them. With every step.
We arrived just in time. The river flowed beneath and the rope hung from the tree. Just as planned. Its trunk leaned out over the water. Trying to see around the riverbend, perhaps. Trying to see where the water goes. Dave went first. He held the rope just above the knot tied near the bottom. He crouched, arms extended forward, leaning back, trusting the rope with his weight. A gentle hop. No turning back. For a moment, there was no movement. Hanging in the air until the river beckoned. Gravity obliged. In a precarious parabola, Dave swung into the open air. For a moment, there was no movement. The Apex. Splash.
I stood at the top, with the rope in my hands. Holding it just above the knot tied near the bottom. Trusting the rope with my weight, testing, I lean back and close my eyes. There is no hop. Fear is pounding through my veins. Shortens my breath and informs the slight shake just above my knees. Genuine terror is not a common commodity these days.
Poised at the top, the option to not jump is seductive. It lures you in with the false sense of security. If you don’t jump, you won’t get hurt. You wont be terrified. It is the route of cowardice. This is ‘playing it safe.’ If you don’t jump, you won’t risk betraying yourself and letting go midswing. If you don’t jump, the wind won’t push back your cheeks and eyelids and you won’t experience the weightless confounding glory of flight. You will stay on the riverbank.
Terror. A sensation in which we explicitly and truly believe that we are in danger. It is intrinsic. It is extreme. Cannot be feigned. You can be frightened by many things, discomfort is a dime a pang. Terror, though, is rather inexplicable. It does not oblige to requests to subside. It exists for a reason. Deep rooted, it knows. Instinct would generally indicate that leaping into a 40 foot void would not be intelligent.
It is irrational, however. The rope will hold. Gravity will pull and inertia will push and the water will be there waiting to catch me. Rationalization and logic have no bearing in these circumstances. There is no assuaging, no compromise. The fear stays and the apprehension grows as every eternal second passes. There are really only two options. Step back and stay on the riverbank, or hop. Hop.
I’m sitting in a rocking chair and my heart is pounding. In Camden, Maine, I’m staying with Suzanne at her family’s cabin. The phone is pressed to my ear and with every empty ring, apprehension builds. What will I say when they answer? Will they be irritated, annoyed, confused when a stranger starts babbling on the other end? I’m just a person, a nobody, why will they want to host me? ‘You’ve got to be concise and verbose and present yourself well and make sure they know you’re not a creepface. Don’t listen to your heartbeat, don’t freak them out’ I told myself.
When Lydia answered, there was nothing but grace and compassion in her voice. I spenttwo days at Tinder Hearth, with beautiful results. I didn’t know it on Friday September 3rd of this year, but the call that had just transpired would repeat itself every few days for the next three months. For all intents and purposes, it was the first day of the trip thatI’ve come to call Farmrun.
Sweep to the other side. December 3rd, San Francisco, California. For all intents and purposes, the last day of the trip that I’ve come to call Farmrun.
Originally, it was my intention to make a short film compiling some of the delightful bits of media that I’ve collected over the past ninety three days. A teaser. A conclusion. A trailer for the film I’ll likely never make. It would be slow but not too slow and it would have some nice music that would probably feature a banjo. It would start slow and then build up and be real nicentwangy and Dave Snyder would say inspiring things about accessing urban land indefinitely and James Godsil would let his voluptuous words flow out overtop of delicious shots of Jon Savanna kneading his milk dough and Caitlyn Galloway weeding her kale beds, then there would be non-narrative clips of farmers laughing and hugging and smiling their big nice smiles and then a banjonic climax where everything would STOP. A moment of weightlessness. And ‘Farmrun’ would melt onto the screen.
But that didn’t happen. Because plans change. And time has a characteristic way of moving forward, sometimes even before you’ve been able to fit in all of the things on your List. I’d gander to say that Time’s stubborn selfishness was a dominant color of this trip. There are still millions of essays to write and films to make and farmers to profile and eyes to open. This time, I didn’t get to it, and that’s OK. I didn’t make a feature-length film. I didn’t write a book. I haven’t even laid out a ‘zine.
That’s the point of these prattling words, I think. I’d like to continue on with this essay right now, relaying highlights of the trip. Sharing wisdom shed by those I spoke with. I’d like to tell you whose inspiration drove deep inside me and left resounding marks. Who’s shaking up their local conventions most. Who brought the silliest livestock animal into their living room during brunch. Who is an unexpected champion poet. I’d like to tell you all of the wonderful things that people are doing and how they are finding ways to grow food and the beauty with which they are surrounding that activity. But there’s no time. For now.
I think that the point of these prattling words is to say explicitly that this will be my last update for a while. I am moving on for the winter months. I will not have regular internet access, nor my fancypants expensive electronic Things. I will be taking some time to perspectivize.
And the question remains, will there be a singular definitive cohesive substantial product? Definitely maybe. I do not know. Maybe not. The intention of the project was never to make a film. I was not making a documentary. I was not writing a book. These are still prospects. I truly believe that there is great potential for the information I have collected to be expanded upon and turned into something beautiful and timely and informative. There is great potential.
At the height of a leap, the apex, there is no motion. Energetically speaking, it is the point where all of your kinetic energy, the unfathomable velocity with which you have been traveling your path, has been completely converted to potential. You are no longer on the move. Your displacement is zero. But the force about which we speak cannot be destroyed. It has been gathered and condensed and concentrated inside. And momentarily, everything is still. Time seems to stop and the world around swirls and blurs. And for a moment, there is blissful stagnation. For an eternal instant, you hang in the air. Tethered by nothing, attached to no one. Splash.