The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

Mornings on the Farm
by Dennis Ward Stiles

My father woke at five.

My own eyes often opened
before he touched my shoulder.

Mother’s hands had learned
to fly, to place his plate—eggs
cooked flat—on the table
just as his footsteps
reached the bottom stair.

We drank water
ate fast and said little.

Cattle and hogs with needs
keen as our own
waited, eager but wary
even as we fed them.

We were killers with a handout.
They felt our hurry
and the hint of death in it.

“Mornings on the Farm” by Dennis Ward Stiles, from The Fire in Which We Burn. © Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2009.

RIP, Virginia Matthews

So it’s raining and I’m sitting here in Atlanta reading every story in the newspaper to pass the time. And I come across the obituary of Virginia Matthews, mainly because the title catches my eye: “Family’s 50-acre farm meant the world to Winder resident.” And I read every word of this story, too. Mrs. Matthews and her husband, Jack, bought their farm in the 1960s for $7000. It became her most treasured possession, a place that gave her and her family peace. Grandson Chris Griffith likened the family retreat to Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” in which the author sought a better understanding of society through quiet solitude in nature. Coincidentally, the newspaper notes, the farm is on Walden Road. Virginia Acree Matthews, 79, died Tuesday on her farm in Winder, Ga. Here’s her story for your own rainy day reading. Rest in peace, Virginia.