SummerHarvestWeb - Flipbook - Page 33
Gus Knight, of a succeeding generation, raised beef cows on
his families’ thousand acres without the mania for the show circuit. He retired very early from the corporate world of oil and gas
exploration as a geologist in Midland, Texas, and came back home
to raise cattle. And thus he did, with a beautiful herd of Herefords, and lived a charmed, graceful and enviable life with Jane.
We should never underestimate, however, all the hard work necessary to do this. Gus Knight was always at it, rain or shine.
With Jane’s passing, there is not a single Knight left here in the
Somerset Hills, after close to one hundred and twenty-five years.
Do I suspect that a singular sensibility has passed? I know it. Gone
are many of the large tracts of land and the regal cattle breeders,
gone are the large herds, and many of the gentlemen who so
loved this landscape – loved this country life. I was privileged
years ago to view Mr. Turnbull’s handwritten Black Angus breeding records from the 1930s. They were detailed and accurate; energetic and delightful.
Jane Knight grew up in Keene Valley, New York, near Lake
Placid. A cultured country woman, she immersed herself in the
most elegant pastimes: Her work for the Episcopal Church, the
textile arts, particularly knitting, gardening of all types, and painting, in both oils and watercolor, later in life. She was self-taught
and painted birds, wildlife, horses, landscapes and the ethereal
sunlight. For she so loved the countryside – our countryside.
Several years ago I asked her if I could plow up part of her
hayfield and plant tobacco –Pennsylvania 41, a dark cigar leaf.
How many farm owners hereabouts would agree to this? I can
hear them squealing now as I’m writing this. However, Jane said
“Fabulous! I love the smell of newly-plowed ground.” For she
was of the country, and understood and embraced country things.
But later, she called to ask me if tobacco was legal to grow. Of
course it is! Tobacco is indigenous and native to North America,
and I suspect it was growing here wild in pre-Colonial times.
So, the world turns. We know this. The seasons change, the
epochs change, but I sorta kinda try not to change. I wear the
same type of clothing and footwear I did when I was ten years
old. I find myself buying the same foods at the supermarket,
month after month. I have a well-worn groove and I prefer to
stay in it – for it is home to me and it is familiar.
But the loss of my dear friend, Jane, has honestly rattled me a
bit. I find now that I am super-vigilant, intensely cognizant of
God’s gifts to us all: gifts of grace, elegance, intelligence, friendship, perception and gentility. This is all that we could ever ask
for. And it is all here for us.
So we march on – march on through time, with a heightened
and acute sense of the ephemeral nature of all that is around us.
And, I at least, am determined to pay attention, to look, to see,
and to listen to both the very young and the very old. We should
tell all those around us that it is an honor and a privilege to be
alongside them, not in front of them or behind them, but that we
honor them and cherish them just as they are. And I study and
have immersed myself in the natural world for years, for here I
have found solace, contentment, and some critical, profound and
intense life lessons. I will always be a student.