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  • Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
    Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

    –William Shakespeare

    As you might have gathered from my previous two posts, I spent part of the weekend on the farm. Mr. Bill Timpner's farm in Pinckneyville, Illinois. My friend Rose lured me there with the promise of a good photographic opportunity, but kept very quiet about everything else. Thus I was ill prepared for my encounter with Bill, a vivacious 83-old farmer, tractor enthusiast and collector of vast amounts of stuff.

    Bill is the closest I have ever come to meeting an equivalent of H.E. Bates' "Pop" Larkin. Transpose the rural English setting into a rural American one, and you have it. I spent the good part of a whole afternoon viewing the entire farm plus contents, including cows, geese, guinea fowl, farmed fish and a pair of reclusive goats who pretty much owned the place.

    The most impressive building on the estate is the barn you see above. It's a working barn with livestock on the ground floor, but upstairs is a hay loft that once a year is converted into a dance floor for a genuine barn dance. Bill told me that he's had as many as 276 people up there, and that speaks well of the enthusiasm of the Pinckneyvillers and of the sturdiness of the structure.

    By the end of the day I was so saturated with farm lore that I was nearly comatose. I wouldn't have missed it for anything though, even though it's going to take a few weeks to tease out the deeper meaning of it all.

    For there is real depth here. Six generations of Bill's family, past and present, have lived on that farm. Standing on the second floor ramp of the barn and looking out over the land, Bill was able to point out each building as a mark of his family's history. To me, with family in England, America, and South Africa, such a compression seems almost miraculous.

    It's autumn now but I don't feel it. Bill's 83-years of enthusiasm really do seem to mark out an eternal summer.

    I do believe I'm ready to look at another tractor.
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