About a mile from Carversville, I was stopped dead in my tracks last Friday by a gaggle of geese, in the company of a few ducks. The length of my encounter with this meandering fowl parade was nonnegotiable and strictly on their terms.
My ultimate driving machine couldn’t move until the feathered flock crossed the road.
Forced to visually inhale the vista around me, I reflected on just how special Solebury Township is, and how neglectful I’ve been in promoting it in my journal. I’m so busy running around the world, literally and in my imagination, that I haven’t shared very much about the history and character of my neighborhood.
Believe it ot not, this is not the first time I’ve experienced a moment of deep reflection, inspired by geese. Considering that the life span of a goose is 24 years, there is probably a direct connection between these very geese from Cuttalossa Farm and Queen Rania’s new YouTube video. Bear with me please.
Flickr: lotusfee’s photostream
Glorious yellow bursts of forsythia bushes are sprouting everywhere in Solebury. Actually, forsythia is announcing Nature’s rebirth all over the northern hemisphere.world.
My short life in Solebury Township, Bucks County, has centered around two historic districts: Cuttalossa Road and Carversville. Much of the Solebury landscape dates from the pre-revolutionary era, reflecting the lives of America’s earliest settlers. Unlike many towns in America, where there’s a special house or two, reminding locals of their historical roots, Solebury is one national treasure after another. These properties have been protected for decades, and you can’t change a light bulb in this area, without a permit. Just kidding.
Solebury Township seeks to establish and maintain a Sustainable Community that balances the rights of property owners to reasonably use their land with the community’s expressed goal to conserve and preserve its natural and historical character for the benefit of all, present, and future residents.
The six historic districts of Solebury — Carversville, Phillips Mill, Center Bridge, Lumberville, Cuttalossa and Upper Aquetong Valley — do create a connected, cohesive landscape, a calming, inspiring vision to one’s eye and spirit. So much of America is now a quick snapshot, a beautiful burst of new or old architectural beauty, marred by a disconnected element next door. This is not the case in Solebury, where driving creates the expectation of even greater beauty, waiting around the next curve.
Life comes to a gentle stop in Carversville. Three roads, Aquetong, Carversville Road and Fleecydale intersect at the Carversville Inn and Carversville General Store. Locals rush in for a quart of milk and put it “on account”. Visitors bike in for a sandwich and energy drink. Driving up Fleecydale on my first Sunday visit to this area three years ago, I couldn’t believe that such a place still existed in America.
My cottage in Carversville is a second retreat in Solebury. My first house was on Cuttalossa Road, where those Cuttalossa geese taught me a real life lesson. Can you imagine walking in the yard, drinking a cup of French Roast, looking down over this site?
My partner and I always made jokes that living next to a small farm of Babydoll sheep was perfect for me, because with my very platinum, fluffy, always in my eyes hairdo, I fit right in. I trust you see the resemblance.
Babydolls are bred to have a calm, friendly, loving temperment. I’m laughing to myself, because my dogs were two fluffy white, absolutely adorable bijon frises, Hazard and Samuel B, and my cat a Himalayan. Clearly, I relate to white animals who look like me… or I look like them. Perhaps I’m just stupendously vain.
Cuttalossa Road rivals Fleecydale, as one of the most beautiful small roads in America.
Barnyard Lessons on Our Human Condition
None of the Flickr photos show these docile, loving Babydoll sheep, milling about Cuttalossa Farm, which runs on both sides of the road. I J’adored Daniel Garber’s house a few weeks ago.
Cuttalossa Farm has a menagerie of animals … sheep, a barking dog, the geese and several chickens. Yes, I had chickens next door, and I can’t say that I miss the rooster waking me up at 4:45 am in the summer.
Building up to the whole point of my essay on Solebury, I’m without the priceless photo … the one that I will never forget. I don’t know if it’s lodged only in my mind, or in Albert’s camera. He — along with the priceless visual — is gone from my life.
I went back this fall, in an attempt to recreate it for you, but my camera, full of new photos of Cuttalossa Farm, was stolen from the car in a/my New York garage. I want to say that I will be on a repeat mission this summer.
Reflecting now, perhaps I need to let go of that day, once and for all. Better yet, let me give it a new positive, purpose.
The animals all hung out in the small barn on my side of the road. My house sat atop a winding drive in the hill, giving me a view over Cuttalossa Farm, perhaps 50’ below me.
Certain times of the day, I knew I would find everyone out sunning themselves, and I chose these times to go for a pensive walk along the road … or we walked along the road, always marveling about the beauty of the place and our nearly perfect life there. Or so I thought.
Leaning casually against the fence, I had no idea that a vision of nearly epic importance was coming. Out of nowhere, the formation appeared … a simple, bucolic scene unfolded before my eyes that I will never forget. I don’t remember who led the parade … probably one of the dogs, but they came two by two.
Unlike Noah’s Ark, they were not matched pairs. The dog ambled along with the rooster. And one of my precious Babydolls was frolicking with a duck.
American artist Edward Hicks “Noah’s Ark”
I don’t know very much about anthropology, but this scene was a total disconnect for me. This Solebury barnyard menagerie of totally unrelated animals was paired in formation, and everyone was getting along. They were having such a good time.
Honestly, the goose’s bill was bobbing in the air, laughing away. The hens were cackling and the bog barked joyfully, creating an incomprehensibly silly sight.
The scene polarized me for several minutes, burning a vision of hope in my mind. It sounds so trite and overly simplistic to say this, but I remember thinking to myself: “If they can get along and have such a good time together … well, why can’t we humans do the same thing?”
These animals couldn’t be more different, but they had connected with each other, surmounting their differences to create a scene of unimaginable delight for themselves and the entire world.
When I begin writing this journal, I never really know where I’m headed. Sometimes I feel that I’m not even in charge of the process. Noah’s Ark only appeared to me, when I visualized the animals coming two by two on Cuttalossa Farm. I Googled “Noah’s Ark”, and Wikied to the page with the Edward Hicks painting above.
In my first paragraph, I promised to connect the dots between geese and Queen Rania. I happened on her YouTube video two days ago. She’s such an elegant, relevant woman, a calming, connected voice in a most challenging world.
Reading now that Edward Hicks is an American folk artist, I more or less knew what Google would deliver next.
I would like to introduce you to Bucks County artist Edward Hicks, 1780-1849. While I didn’t recognize the Noah’s Ark painting, I know this one: The Peaceable Kingdon. Indeed, this was the scene at Cuttalossa Farm and on Cuttalossa Road on a warm autumn day in 2005.
Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1834
The church bells in Carversville ring at 9:50 am on Sundays. I have no idea how many years, decades, or centuries they have called the Carversville locals to reflect at this hour.
The predictable tollling calms me and reminds me of the need to consider the details of my life. Am I helping or harming us all?
I never thought I would be promoting Queen Rania’s message here at A of C, as I consider the resolute determination of a large group of people committed to my destruction. They are not motivated by a vision of a Peaceable Kingdom. Yet, I must not lose sight of the Ark, and my deep desire that we won’t need it.
Her voice, along with Martin Luther King’s, Robert Kennedy’s and all the great voices calling out to us, must be heard and acted upon. If not, well then, I want to know who is in charge of building the Ark? I have a friend here who creates beautiful houses. Perhaps Gjoko can help us.