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There are risks in becoming visible.

When we expose our greatest hopes and precious

things to strangers, we may be thought a fool. But the ordinary treasures we share may
touch lives in ways we cannot imagine. This is the story of one hopeful fool.

The Foolish Farmer of Erewhon

~ a bloggers tale

He prepared them lovingly, his precious mementos “Who will come?” she asked derisively. “You are a
and carefully pressed flowers. He arranged them foolish old man” said the woman, “and if anyone
prominently on simple benches near the road. Just comes, they will think you mad”.
beyond, by the barn, a rough oak plank set across
two tree stumps formed a crude table to display all “Friends I have never met will come”, said the
manner of clippings and cards that flapped in the farmer without certainty.” Strangers will come who
breeze—some brittle and yellow with age, others did not know that they wanted to know about these
crisp and white from yesterday’s journal. things that they see here until they have seen them.
In seeing them, they will see into me and trust me,
Someone might care to turn the thin pages and and we will share the deep things
read the forgotten stories, said the of our hearts with each other, me
farmer to himself. Up around the and my visitors.”
bend near the low-water bridge,
photographs were pinned hap- The farmer was not content
hazardly on the dark trunks of the merely to provide his spectacle
maple trees—dog-eared, roughly for the eyes. He was careful to set
framed or not at all; some new, out chalk boards nailed to road-
most sepia toned from the passage side trees. He placed pads of pa-
of time, worn with a patina of love per on the display tables so that
and memory. Trinkets and curios, his guests could tell him about
found things and very private bric- their lives and direct him to their
a-brac lined the dirt road along a worlds. With these wonderful
quarter mile of this seldom traveled leavings, he would be able to visit
path in a remote part of a sparsely his visitors all around the realm
peopled region of the rural land of and see their treasures and know
Erehwon. their found things, sepia memo-
ries, and golden dreams.
Here was more than the eye could take in: fruits
and seeds; scopes and lensed instruments for see- And so, the days and weeks passed. Visitors did
ing things close or far away. There were buckets of come down his road, but more often than not, they
garden vegetables and small cages that held insects drove by without stopping. Yet the farmer thought
or small birds or lizards that the farmer had ten- in their passing they might have acknowledged in
derly captured, just for a day, so that his visitors some small way his racks and tables and adorn-
could come to know that these things exist in the ments. Many came down his road quite by mis-
farmer’s world—though not in theirs, perhaps. And take, looking for the shopping mall or seeking out
everywhere —wildflowers, mushrooms, liverworts some strange and terrible story not contained in the
and slime molds—things to the farmer most famil- farmer’s collection. Some who came surely thought
iar, yet wondrous and special—piled and stacked him mad.
and scattered.
But lo, wonder of wonders, a few of the wanderers who passed his way tarried, even occasionally han-
dling one or two of the treasures on the rickety tables. They turned them over curiously in their hands.
Once a visitor exclaimed “This is the most wonderful thing I have ever seen” as they examined some
small caged creature that was so commonplace in the farmer’s life that it was barely worthy of note. This
delighted him no end, and he was eager to tell his wife that indeed, his treasures were becoming treasures
to one in a hundred of his guests; and, as he told her with great satisfaction, this was enough.

But in truth, he was always disappointed that they remained strangers as they drove away. He soon
learned to take joy in the fact that they had come at all.

Sadly the chalk boards and scratch pads and

the green rusty mailbox near the stone walk
to the farmer’s door remained mostly empty.
From time to time, a visitor would pen “hello
I came by”, or “my name is Mary. Nice tables
and stuff”. The farmer was always thrilled to
see that the page was not empty, but dejected
when he had given so much of himself and
learned so little of his visitors. He began to
feel foolish and doubted himself and won-
dered why he felt the need for such open
display of his silly yard-sale memories and
special things that were sacred only to him.

And yet, in his more hopeful moments, he

thought “There is a point to this and a purpose for Good that I cannot yet see. If I am faithful to my
dream, they will come and stop. They will share and invite me to their roads. And when the strangers
are able to put their precious things for all to see on all the roadsides of Erehwon and the larger world
beyond, we will grow to trust and care for each other. We will learn from and come to understand those
that seem strange and unfamiliar, as I must seem now to my visitors.”