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A. and I moved west the first week of the new year, against some of the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced. Packed all of our things, packed the car with ourselves, the dog, a week’s worth of clothes and headed away from lives well-established but half-lived. We moved back to his hometown of Springfield, Missouri, a place spread out and wider reaching then the east coast cities I have lived in. Enchanted with the promise of a richer, slower life lived closer to the land, days punctuated by fence mending, milkings, work.

I will not say we landed with grace, nor are things as uncomplicated as we had hoped. We have taken small steps towards the land, the life we want but it is complicated by other peoples’ realities of jobs, lives lived, schedules. We are not doing this alone, which requires patience and compromise. It will, however, result in something larger than myself, larger than he and I.

Still, the core of the work that needs to be done is there. Nightly, I find myself in a converted horse barn, face level with cow udders, the hum of a vacuum pump and a pulsator for a bucket milker ever-present. I find comfort in the repetitive work, in the earthy smell of the cows’ skin and hair, the classic rock radio station that plays to calm the cows. There, I unclench my jaw, leave behind all the things I cannot control, forget about all things I must do to make a rural life my own. I do the work because it must be done. It is there I find quiet and connection to a history and a world larger than myself.

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