The natural question is, "So, what do you grow at the farm?
"Do you have cows? Corn? Chickens?"
My smart-alecky (but not untrue) answer is that the principal crops of the Would-Be Farm include burdocks, porcupines, and rocks.
Rocks are the only one of those things I've harvested year after year.
It's a kind of obsession, wanting to shunt small boulders and flat stones hither and yon.
Pull a rock from a garden bed, fit it into the border.
Roll one boulder next to another to make a lookout perch.
Set a big flat slab just where you need to step.
Create rock terraces up a slippery slope.
Excavate a tiny pool and line it with mossy cobbles so the spring melt-water will fill and then drizzle musically along its merry way.
Florida offers so little in the line of rocks, at least in our sandy neck of the woods.
But the Would-Be Farm contains lifetimes' worth of movable stones just waiting to get picked up and placed elsewhere.
Heaven knows there are stone workers by the shovel-full up the family tree: tin miners in Cornwall, copper miners in Tennessee, the odd silver-miner crushed in freak accident in a Colorado mine.
And after all, I'm not the only one in the family who likes to rearrange the rocky furniture of the world.
I've known my sister to leap from a running car when she spots the stone she needs for her rock-garden.
My own Daddo –– a carpenter and a mason –– showed me to mix cement and set bricks when I was but a wee nipper.
The local quarryman who does the heaviest lifting (making driveways, delivering gravel, etc.) at the Would-Be Farm needs only to be briefly reminded that I am Aunt Prudy's niece and he lights UP.
I know she had the quarryman and his crew move and readjust rocks over and over and over again until she had her flagstone patio just the way she liked. It's to her credit that the quarryman made it beautiful and remembers her fondly.
Making a stone surface like that is not just a matter of skipping a few stones into leveling sand and calling it good.
I believe that if you gather five or seven flagstones, there's only going to be one or two "correct" configurations.
And a person might have to tidily-wink rocks around and then contemplate the composition for a few days before finding the right arrangement.
Stones have their own logic and preferences.
What can be more beautiful than an elegant old stone wall? Running mostly straight, like a seam across a landscape -- ooh, ahh.
I'll own the sentiment second-hand.
I'm not proud.
If I hadn't learned to notice and love the ruins of old farms from my mother, I'd have adopted it from Robert Frost.
Though, in all fairness, I think Frost came from Mumsie as well.
I remember the blue light of the overcast sky reflecting ice into the dim living-room. The sinking presence of cold at the glass. And the dozens of running, stumbling starts it took for one of us to finally say the poem complete from start to finish.
Many years later, reading Frost's "Home Burial," a second time, maybe because my own name was in it –– I inadvertently learned that stories about pain are better than ones that start and end in happiness alone.
Not an original impulse. Never is, under the sun -- so wrote a world-weary Sumerian* 5,000 years ago.
Although, I remind myself cheerfully, if we each of us waited for a truly original impulse or thought, we would all be mysteries to each other.
My second favorite Sumerian quote? "What kind of a scribe is a scribe who does not know Sumerian?"