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I realized yesterday afternoon that I’d been here for two and a half weeks. I have a terribly long list of undone objectives, and I’ve been bustin’ my freaking hump every day. The gentility we found here before was supported by more grunt work that anyone should ever mention. Tough to reclaim that in a few days, even if those days happen to be the longest of the year.

The connections between the individual tasks take the largest toll. Wait times—for promised estimates, application forms, through the untenable hottest hours of the day—extend even the smallest tasks into tomorrow or next week. My body stiffens and aches, discouraging me from extended repeat performances, especially after a particularly productive yesterday. I see progress without feeling it. My ideals shift around tenacious realities.

No settled place remains settled for long without continual resettlement. Settlement couldn’t be further from adventuring or even from pioneering. The settlers were never the pathfinders, but the path maintainers. They didn’t open up any new territory, but kept it from slamming shut again. This work couldn’t hope to be less romantic. Only its necessity justifies it.

The dream usually involves working the land to the point where maintaining it demands minimum effort, but this must be a dream because it never seems to manifest itself in real life. Unanticipated characterizes every scheme until the faith demands a bit more attention than simple keeping. These experiences unsettle even the veteran sodbuster.

The bones grow weary ten thousand times before they ever find their rest, only then to long for their old familiar weariness again. No rest and no respite seems due to anyone here. The eternal effort to settle someplace leaves me looking for home even when I’m standing in the middle of mine.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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