I gather the first moments of the day through an uncovered bedroom window. The field sits in the foreground, full of plants that I never thought I’d understand, and a stand of trees paints upwards along the horizon. A blue pickup turns towards the road, exhaust floating over the corn stalks that frame the driveway. Half the shed lights are on and I can see someone rummaging for tools or a load of wood. The studio lights are on across the yard.
I slide out of bed, ease open the door, and walk to the kitchen. I fill the kettle and set it to boil. I move gently, knowing that it’s a day away from the fields. I sit at the kitchen table and pull at the corner of a magazine until I make a casual show of flipping to a short poem to occupy the time while the water heats. I read it like its the back of a cereal box.
There are boots at the front door and practical clothes on the hooks. They make me feel competent.
There’s a yard between four or five buildings, with places for cooking, talking, and playing. The vehicles are tucked away, waiting for whoever needs one next. Some of us might be biologically related, but that’s not the point exactly; we love being here together. There are kids around. We’re all parents, but not all of us have kids. We farm or garden or grow food in some way. We feel sheepish about how hard it is. We don’t always know what we’re doing. Some of us have jobs in town and some of us work on screens, and some of us just work the land. We drive in for shows, films, and bakeries, go on trips, play golf, make music, burn carbon in various ways, and live all sorts of hypocrisies. We explore the boundaries of love. We practice reciprocity and honesty. We exhale regularly.
I’m writing a book. I’ve written one already. I write mostly in the winter. My partner sees the forest. They wonder at the river. They encourage us to believe in something. My friend coaches a hockey team; their friend manages it. They live together, sometimes. We think they’re beautiful. Our parents visit. They worry about imposing. We haven’t pushed them to stay, yet.
We argue about money, lose our nerve, and do things that we regret. We imagine, analyze, discuss, and worry. We are in constant process.
It’s all a little sepia toned, but not entirely absurd.
It’s an old story with new energy, especially in the midst of a pandemic and economic realities that are “push[ing] people back together, whether that’s toward their genetic families or toward families of their own choosing and creation.” It might even feel preferable, as we consider “extend[ing] our sense of community by welcoming different generations into the same spaces, which will not only stretch our money further but also leave us more connected .” It’s not a perfect story, but its questions are different than the ones from the story that I grew up with. There’s electricity here, in the intimacy of more collective living, of growing food, of asking friends and family to act on new-old ideas.
What have we found, what have we lost, by living on a farm with friends?
 Fawcett, Max, et al. “How to Save the Middle Class.” The Walrus, 29 Jan. 2021, thewalrus.ca/livingrooms-how-to-save-the-middle-class.