He would have been as taken aback by this global pandemic as the rest of us, but my dad knew all about social distancing.
In fact, that was his aim when he bought an isolated chunk of farm land more than 40 years ago.
He wanted a place where he could roam the woods like he did when he was a kid growing up in Colver, Pennsylvania. He wanted to track animals, carve paths, pick blackberries and build bridges over streams; where he could enjoy life unbidden by people and unburdened by their polite demands for civility.
“I want a place where I can cut the grass in my jockey shorts if I want to,” he told us. Thereafter, the Farm gave him a welcome respite from his busy life.
“I have to cut the grass at the Farm,” he’d say and head Up North for a few hours of solitude. As often as I’d let him, he’d pick my son Charlie up from kindergarten and they’d both head directly up there to play.
I thought about all that this week when I spent some time there in grateful social distance with various members of my family. We love everything about that place — the trails that meander through the woods, the pond we don’t swim in (due to its healthy population of leeches) but love to observe, the wide variety of occasionally intimidating animals and, most of all, the river that runs past it.
If you ask me, there is no better way to social distance and still enjoy your family’s company than to plop into an inner tube and float down a quiet river together, but still apart.
We all have a hard time connecting to the outside world when we’re at the Farm. On a really good day, if I hold my phone flat in the palm of my hand and extend it out toward a certain window, I can get two bars of cellphone service, just enough to lure me into a frustrating dance with that coy spinning wheel that says, “Yes! I know you have received a notification that requires you to open an app and No! I’m not actually going to let you do that.”
So, we spend our time in old fashioned conversation, watching the full moon rise and hearing the campfire crackle. Most often, we’re grateful for the reprieve from the outside world.
Recently, I have been especially pleased to retreat to the cabin, where I can safely hang with my people.
In this crazy world we’re all trying our best to navigate, I’m very grateful for my dad’s legacy of peace.