Dawn in the Skagit Valley

Dawn in the Skagit Valley

“The real world, in my opinion, exists in the countryside, where Nature goes about her quiet business and brings greatest pleasure.”
— Fennel Hudson

I am drawn to the countryside.  I love its “quiet business.”  The pre-dawn hour is especially lovely.  I enjoy pulling to the side of the road, turning off the car’s ignition, and sitting in the quiet, watching the world awaken.

The Skagit Valley awakens

The Skagit Valley awakens

Old truck by barn

Old truck by barn

Allium stands tall un the foreground of a field

Allium stands tall un the foreground of a field

Farm in the Skagit Valley

Farm in the Skagit Valley

Allium

Allium

 

 

Churches and Minnesota lakes

Steeples rise above the corn fields

Parish church in rural Minnesota

Tall church steeples dot the rural Minnesota landscape.  They stand as sentinels over our farms, fields, and lakes.  And they are a visible sign of the ties of faith and community in the country.

Our parish church, seen from our farm

When I was growing up on the farm, my family belonged to a Catholic parish just a mile or so from our home.  This church was, and still is, the lifeblood of our small community, which also included a two-room public schoolhouse, a store and bar, a garage, a baseball diamond, and farms and homes.  Many of my relatives are buried in the parish cemetery.

The parish cemetery

Decades ago, the public schools consolidated.  I was among the first class of sixth graders who moved from the country schoolhouse to the elementary school in town.  A few years later, the lower grades also moved to the town school, and the country schoolhouse has since stood empty.

The parish and community weathered that change, but now is adjusting to another consolidation, that of the rural churches.  When our parish’s aged priest died, the Catholic archdiocese took the opportunity to centralize management of the small local parishes under the auspices of the larger town church.  Our small parish now has masses twice a week instead of daily, and a visiting priest, who resides in town, travels between two rural churches.

The loss of local priests and local autonomy is a big blow to the community of faithful in the rural Minnesota countryside.  It feels wrong to not support a thriving local parish in the name of economic efficiencies.  Especially when the “commodity” is faith, you’d think that the intangibles would weigh more heavily than pieces of silver in the decision to keep a parish church going.

The interior of our local parish church 30 minutes before mass. By the time mass started, the pews were full.

Holy water font

Countryscapes

April 7, 2010

Yesterday’s post offered some cityscapes.  So today I will give equal time to rural images.  What a contrast to the gleaming, shining, reflective glass and steel surfaces of a  modern city.  Yet each is beautiful in its own way. 

Old barn in the Skagit Valley

 

Weathered siding, old barn

 

Leaky roof on an old barn in the Skagit Valley

 

Rustic barn

 

Old Barn
by Janice Blanchard 

On the edge of the town
See the old barn sag
With a drop in its ridge
Like a sway-backed nag,
And the shingles torn
By the west wind’s will
Fly from the skeleton rafters
Until
You may count its starved ribs,
One by one;
Old barn, old horse,
Your day is done.