The Ripshin Goat Dairy
The Ripshin Goat Dairy, a sixth generation farm, drips with a heritage of thoughtful people. Gardens throughout the property, speckled generously with sculptures, a testament to their love of art and all things beautiful. And I walking through the property, plucking ripe blueberries from a bush for an afternoon snack, feel as though I have been bestowed with such an honor to witness it all. I could not have anticipated the joy that I would experience, but I will relive it for as long as my memory serves me.
Her eyes were sky blue and her soft white hair pinned haphazardly back, with the confidence of someone who doesn't require precision, because in the messiness of life, they see beauty. She wore a white button down shirt that set like a heaven sent cloud gracing the horizon, effortlessly. Liza spoke with a refinement of understanding deep truths of life. When you meet someone like Liza, you feel you've met her before, the warmth sparkles in her eyes and you feel as though you are conversing with your sweetest memory.
I was seeking a reprieve from demands and heartache, and I could not have imagined stepping back into a place and a time where my tender soul was shaped from broken pieces into a sensitive vessel eager to explore the great depths of the human experience. To feel with others as if we are one, and to know deep loss that only comes from knowing great joy. Nonetheless, stepping onto the Ripshin Goat Dairy transported me in an instant to a simpler time, where beauty and truth were not only honored, but cultivated. This is living.
Liza invited me to roam freely about, and suggested the gravel path that would take me to the Yadkin River, where I could sit on the rocky beach. And with each step along the cornfields, the little girl full of hope and impossible dreams began to wake up. I had silenced her for so long, being practical and safe had become my safety net in a cruel and uncertain world; no place for the innocent whimsical dreams of a girl who hasn't learned to accept defeat. We can fight joy and dreams when it is a weak melody playing in the backdrop of our everyday life, a quaint idea to visit and leave it where it lay. But when the orchestra of senses beats out a harmony so loud and all encompassing, the joys and the dreaming cannot be fought; they must be felt, they must be acknowledged. And that is what I felt with the crunch of my feet against the gravel, the breeze whispering through the mature cornstalks, the heat of the day slowly slipping into the coolness of dusk, the birds singing overhead, the gentle giants of mountains spread out before me. It spoke to her, that little girl who dared to dream, and I quite literally leapt with joy and ran and stopped only to breathe in with intention, all of the beauty that could not be held or restrained, but flowed with abundance.
On my way back, I stopped to meet Farmer the dog and Dahlia the goat. Farmer, I will have to see him once more before I leave. He understands joy and he jumped with it at the sight of my entering the gate. His large furry frame moved with such animated happiness that the grumpiest of person would have a hard time not laughing at his antics, and then as if remembering his manners, he sits abruptly, looking with eager anticipation to be pet. He knew something about loving freely and without shame; I want more of what he has. I would have loved on Dahlia more, but every attempt to do so was met by Farmer's soft muzzle coming in between and demanding the affection for himself.
William was collecting eggs nearby and when I first met him, I dumped on him all that I was escaping from and how truly stunning this property was. I barely took a breath between declarations, and he smiled slightly and said politely, "well yes, it is a nice place." His calm demeanor quieted the highs and lows of all that I had just heaped onto him in our first meeting; a gentleman. In the coming days, William would invite me in for a tomato sandwich on his homemade sourdough bread. "I have an idea", he said as he pulled out a mason jar of the pesto that he and Liza would make in large batches. He toasted the bread, "just enough to take the chill off" and we smothered the sandwiches with the most flavorful pesto I have ever had; and my children have deemed my pesto the bee's knees (okay, they just say it's the best they've ever had). I will forever remember that sandwich, and whenever I have one, I will remember William's generosity. I will remember the fresh blueberries he shared with me and the mischievous smirk he gave me when he said that he was going to taste one, then grabbed a fistful at once.
We never know when a place or person will knock us off our foundation, redirect us, remind us of something once lost. Those are the precious gifts of life, when we get to experience pure unadulterated beauty, something that is fostered with intention and care throughout time. We can't bottle it up and sell it for a premium. It can't be fabricated or forced, it can only happen when authenticity meets consistency, and whether intentionally or not, seeks to multiply itself. That is what I stumbled upon with Liza and William. To them it is a way of life, perhaps they don't consciously think about it; but the intuitive person cannot step foot on the Ripshin Goat Dairy without feeling they have found something invaluable.
Thank you, Liza and William, most likely without intending to, your gift breathed life into me.