How nice it is to arrive after a two-week road trip in lovely Shenandoah farmland to find friends and secular goddaughters far up a gravel road on a hill overlooking the valley. Youthful high-jinks, biscuit making, cooking, easy local touring, and plenty of high-energy hilarity with the children. One of us painted the scenery. I watched two kid movies. Over the five days I spent there, we attended an annual ice cream social attended by the entire county (it seemed), visited tiny local museums, bought delicious tomatoes at a farmer’s market, got lost in a huge antique store, and bought freshly ground flour at a still-functioning 18th-century mill. Not much flopping, as we call long, lazy afternoons sprawled in chairs and sofas with books. But we had fun. My eldest secular goddaughter and I savored our one night of sleeping al fresco. I watched the day dawn. She slept through it.

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We visited nearby Polyface Farms, which figures prominently in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Boring. As it should be. A well-run farm with animals leading boring but seemingly comfortable lives is boring. Industrial farms are more interesting for the wrong reasons.

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