We voyage into the forested rolling hills of central Kentucky. We drive right past Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, and within a few miles of Mammoth Cave. Near the small town of Leitchfield, my aunt Sharon has made her home on Rabbit Flat Road. I’ve been visiting this spot for ten years, and it’s always a treat.
The home is on a couple of acres, surrounded by farmland. The only adjacent neighbor is an abandoned house that is completely overgrown by young pioneer forest. On my first visit to Rabbit Flat I explored the house and learned about its history. It’s a fascinating story, told in another article. I didn’t at first plan on taking my girls through the house, but I wanted to see what it looked like now, ten years later, and they happened to be with me when the notion struck my fancy. So in we went. The house was in much worse condition, as you might expect. His books were still there. But the letters and notebooks that I went through on my first visit were nowhere to be seen.
We only stayed in the house for a few minutes. We had only two nights in town, and we had quite a bit on our agenda. It was great to see Sharon again, and she was such a wonderful host. The girls took an instant liking to her dogs Jesse and Bear, as did I. We took a walk down to the creek and the waterfall, just down the road. What a beautiful place! Kentucky is so green and lush. Like a temperate jungle.
Sharon also took us out to visit some of her friends who bought a farm nearby. It was a lovely property, and we went on a very fun tour past the pond and up the creek, to the site of the original homestead. All that’s left of the house is the chimney.
The girls loved riding on the farm vehicle, a UTV that the dog also loved. He was a small terrier mix, and he wouldn’t have missed the romp for anything. Afterwards we had tea on the porch, and Helen let the girls take a toy from the collection of kid things she has, being a grandmother herself. That was a lovely afternoon.
It had to be cut short because that evening was my talk for the Master Gardeners of Leitchfield. Sharon is on the board, and she put a good deal of time into organizing my talk for their group that night. Permaculture is a topic that they were interested in hearing more about, and I we had a very good turnout, I thought, for a town of Leitchfield’s size. The girls didn’t come, and probably just as well. They would have been bored. Laura stayed with them and Sharon and I went down to the public meeting space that the extension service maintains.
In attendance were men, women, couples, and families. One man there was one of the primary seed farmers of the area who had come with his son. Another young man who was just starting college was there with his mother. People from all walks of life came out, most of whom were long time gardeners and farmers.
My talk went very well. I had a Powerpoint presentation to refer to as I went along, and I covered some bullet-point basics of permaculture. I was scheduled to talk for an hour with questions and discussion at the end, but what ended up happening was an ongoing discussion throughout my talk. People had many excellent questions, and I did my best to answer them.
I have no pictures or video from the talk, one of the downsides to being a one-man operation. Just as well though, because this really was about meeting the people and talking about creative strategies for self-sufficiency. I got some good positive feedback, my enthusiasm for permaculture and what we could do with it shining strong. It was wonderful to get to know the community there, and I hope to see them all again.
Our stay with Sharon felt far too short. Our next stop was Richmond, Kentucky, where my mother grew up. My cousin Bud was graduating high school in just a few days, so the day after my talk, we headed that direction. Sharon came with us in her own car for much of the way, our plan being to visit Shaker Village and have lunch there. I love Shaker Village, and I was hoping to explore there again. Definitely a place worthy of a story.
Alas, the fates smiled not on our best laid plans. When we arrived it was raining, heavily enough to discourage walking about. We went to the restaurant only to find that they were closed between lunch and dinner. It was three or four in the afternoon. We didn’t want to arrive at Richmond too late, and there was really nowhere to hang out to wait out such rain. So we said our goodbyes to Sharon there. I am very thankful to my Aunt Sharon for all she did for my family, especially for all the effort she went to to arrange an event for me on my tour. It was one of my favorite stops, and a highlight of the whole journey I’ve been on.
And like everywhere else, I found ordinary folks are looking to implement some new ideas and make some positive changes. The need for permaculture is becoming much more obvious, and it’s great to see so many places getting busy with the hard work that it’s going to take. Being in relationship with the land is just one piece. The real challenge is to be in right relationship with each other. This is where agorism is so important. Voluntary relationships and non-aggression. We cannot build a better world until we agree that it’s not okay to attack or enslave each other, and then do the necessary inner work to be able to live this way. Self control is required to master any of the great arts. What kind of art are we, as a species, creating? If each of us had a brush to repaint some of the bigger picture, what would we paint?