By Matt Heisler
24 May 2011
I attend college in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, a town that is completely oppressed by highways, chain restaurants and a business that parallels its lack of color. It sounds like any other town, but trust me, it is the leech of your sanity. Without hesitation, I like to return to my home in Pownal, VT so I can just sit in a field and photosynthesize. On this particular day, I took a walk through Strohmaier Farm and the adjacent roads. As a photographer, I need to expect the unexpected, but I did not expect the farm to be so rich with character on a cloudy, humid day. Maybe it was just the manure.
I've lived next to this farm my entire life, but I only used to visit it as a kid, eager to see the cows. Now, as a slightly older kid who had already played enough video games for the day, I decided to go see the farm's natural aesthetic power, as well as the cows (Massachusetts does not have more than three or four cows east of Berkshire County, and I do not believe that is an exaggeration at all). On my journey, I encountered three friendly dogs that would not leave me alone, two vocal turkeys that demanded a distance of one hundred feet at all times, and dozens of cows and goats completely apathetic to my presence. I exchanged pleasantries with one or two of the farmers, but they were few and far between. That was fine for me, because I was struck and somewhat comforted by the lack of human presence anyway. Human documentary has never been my strong suit or my passion. As I discussed before, I went back to Vermont in order to neutralize my palette, if you will. On Strohmaier Road, there are no Olive Gardens. There are no Macy's. There are a handful of earnest, hard working families who eat what they grow and live a life of practicality. On this day, I passed through their places of business and photographed their infrastructure and their animals, which, if anything, allude to a world far more natural and organic than the worlds of commerce and and industry that we all find ourselves stuck inside. Tomorrow I might not be so fortunate with where I am, but that is exactly why I took advantage of today.
I find no greater importance than to visit the quiet outdoors. It can be a farm or the top of a big hill. There, you can't hear cars, you can't smell burgers, and you can't see neon lights. You can hear the wind, you can smell the air (or the manure), and you can see clearly. I encourage you to leave the city; the pigeons and fur coats will be there tomorrow. Who knows how long Strohmaier Farm will be around for you to go see the cows?