Place Where You Live:

New Windsor, Maryland

Among the Stalks

Atop my roof, a glance in any direction would yield: house, house, house, house. Raise your head a little, extend your view a bit further, and you’ll see land. There may be cows there, corn here, but all around are farms. New Windsor, Maryland makes up a small portion of Carroll County, a chunk of land extending down from the Mason-Dixon that no one seems to have heard of. Apparently acres upon acres of crop and pastures do not bring in very many tourists.

This, of course, is not entirely true. Occasionally, a fellow Marylander will know of the county, but only in terms of pejorative generalizations; I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been the butt of a hick joke, my friends spouting lines like, “She can’t read; she’s from Carroll County.” There seem to be assumptions that farming is a fallback, an occupation that families turn to when they’re too ignorant and parochial to work in another, more industrial field.

I would challenge this entirely, and not only because my farm-raised friends are some of the most intelligent, hard-working people I know. Ties to the land do not limit one’s scope, but instead give an unmatched insight into what others have the luxury of ignoring—the world, and how it breathes.

For all its flaws, I am not the least bit ashamed of where I come from. You will find stereotypes, and you won’t find much in the way of shopping. But I’ve never liked shopping much anyhow. I can walk through town, hearing only the breeze, the occasional car, and a few pleasant greetings. I can run down the road, alone, but have the company of attentive dairy cows. I can mark the seasons with corn stalks. If we seem to be stuck in another time period, perhaps we simply haven’t lost sight of old values, of the inextricable link between humans and our environment. We can’t lose sight of this. I can hardly think of a better obligation.