From seed to seed

spring, farm, farm life, pride, ego, letting goThe world around me is fully greening up now. It is a beautiful sight, all plant growth expanding, even though, as always, the wild plants and perennials take off infinitely faster than the wee little cultivated seedlings and transplants we have tucked into the fields ourselves. They are growing, certainly, but it is like watching the pot, so to speak. It is slow compared to our desire, and slow compared to the explosion of grass and weed that is so full of force and life in the spring by comparison.

Still, we have a good harvest coming in, the last push of the overwintered plants in the field are making florets now, giving us a whole other crop to eat, and the greenhouse bridges the gap by growing food fast enough while we wait for that same speed to issue forth out of doors. All green food, in spring, all great food. Spinach, lettuce, kale, turnip greens, and arugula. And wild harvests galore, because so much of the early spring weed growth is meant to be eaten, it’s true. Nettles, dandelion, wild mustard. I am making herbal vinegars with all these plants I need to pull up anyway, a nice way to hold onto all the goodness these wildings want to give away right now, even if they are growing in all the wrong places. Like we do, the earth and I, we are dancing together the dance of the season. Even the onions, right now, are green. And the garlic, too.

But it isn’t as easy to find that same green-ness in ourselves, not always, as we age, as life adds layer upon layer to our skin. I found myself in tears yesterday, in the wash station with this week’s spinach, because my oldest child is almost thirteen years old. That is only five years, by the books, five years, and there you have it, a childhood. And I know, I know, that it isn’t really left much, already, not truly even five years more. This slayed me, for some reason, out of the blue, while I worked, because his childhood is one of the most important things to me in the world.

It is so hard, this parenting gig, and I have done so many great things as a mother and so many things I wish I could take back. I started out thinking I would do everything right. I didn’t accept at all, on the outset, that life and love would be perfectly human, and that I too, must be.

But I know better than to let the sadness, the worry, wash me away, so I came inside and gave this young boy, on his way to young man, a hug. I let go. Letting go is all that we can do. Over and over and over again, the only way to keep moving forward. I have faith, too. That is just as important.

I never expect the earth to hold on to last season. I know, each spring, that we are on a new ride. Sure, I have lessons learned, I have new ideas, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect this time round. And yet, I know, too, that I can just as surely count on things to grow, for food to be produced. The earth provides, every year, again and again, without any trace of growing older, without any hint of defeat. Without worry or weight, things just follow through, as best they can, from seed to seed.

So, must we.

 

 

about (to bloom) the movement of grace

spring, blossoms, blooming, spring, blossoms, bloomingI took these pictures a few days ago. Already, these pink balls that dotted the limbs of this ornamental plum tree have opened, transforming in just a few days this image that caught me, the about-ness of it all so perfect and true.

Last week, we started back up with our farm harvests, started back at our farmer’s market. I waited until the very last minute to wrap my head around the changing schedule, our winter way so nice and restorative this year, but once I turned on the music in the wash station, cleaned and organized everything out there, started washing and weighing and gathering the produce together for our farm members and market customers, it all felt right. Saturday morning at the market, with all the fine people to see, the camaraderie, the community, and us a part of it, it fit back on like a glove.

spring, farming, community, farmer's market, graceprovidence, grace, loveSome friends and I have been having an ongoing discussion about the evolution of our understandings of the world and our spiritual place in it. About how learning to let go of the idea of keeping it all together ourselves, of the image of a perfect us or a perfect life, of the notion that we are in full control of this ship, how in this process of letting go and in finding the moment, we are finding more peace, more happiness, more power to implement real change, real transformations, and more love for life as it is, messy and beautiful and sad and wonderful all at the same time. Contrary to logic, somehow giving over power has this way of creating something really powerful.

One friend likened this to the idea of Grace, and I remembered back to when I was studying philosophy and literature in my college days. I read a lot of Christian writers, and I had an affinity for the beautiful way G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis understood their faith, so different from how I perceived it as a child, deathly afraid of the dark, already burning in the fire that is spiritual fear. That, for me, was no way to connect to the Eternal, so although I didn’t return to church, I did begin to appreciate the concept of Grace. I did begin to see that it was working in my life, that it always had been. Now, I am more apt to connect with this feeling during meditation, when always, the first sensation I notice is overwhelming gratitude, for all the things in my life, not just the good. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve known keenly it was where I was supposed to be. If I paid attention. I always saw signs telling me that I was on the right path, always books came to me that I needed, always lessons that I needed when I might have lost track of my way, when I might have lost sight of the why of it all.

Always, moments of surety.

Like yes, on Saturday, when we returned to market farming for another season. Like yes, today, and every day, that I get on here to type.

Like a few days ago, on just another Sunday afternoon, while my children took the raft out into the flooded field and splashed in the mud and enjoyed their childhood and my husband wrapped me in his arms as said, “I love my life with you.”

Yes.

I couldn’t see it when I was growing up, my father was a No kind of person, but still this morning I listen to the music he handed down to me and because I am a Yes kind of person, I cry and wish for this perfectly imperfect man to still be walking the earth so I could share a cup of coffee with him and talk, like we always did, about how to be good and make the world right for everyone.

Sometimes I wonder why I should be so blessed, why I should feel that my life has meaning. The short answer is that I shouldn’t. None of us and all of us deserve everything and nothing at all. I haven’t had it easy, by any means, but I do have it great right now. And that is enough. Tomorrow is another day, and I can’t predict what is to come. I can’t make the good times stay. And that is okay, too.

The truth is, I have no answers, and I realize that I never have, only glimpses and movement, ideas that fit as my life continues on through its days. Perhaps the Truth, which I have always sought, isn’t something to be found. Maybe there are no answers to any of these larger than life questions, but I can’t stop asking them, and maybe that is enough for me to always find myself right where I am supposed to be, in both hard or soft times.

Right now, I find myself like the balls on this tree, ready to bloom into spring, then summer. The hard working, fast moving season on the farm. My body rejoices to be under the sun, in the dirt, eating fresh food. There are times in our lives that we can’t appreciate until we are well through them, the layers of meaning fully integrated, but this season isn’t like that at all, it is all feel-it-as-it-happens. Being right here, right now, that is my focus. I am sure I will have things to look back on that mean more to me in the future than they do now, but I am also trying my hardest to make all the meaning in the moment, too. And this one thing I do know to be true, I love my life, too. Graciously. That is one thing I can and will always try to do. Perhaps that is the thing that has made all the difference.

spring, farming, community, grace, blooming

springing (time to wake up)

violets, spring, farm, The farm has moved into March gracefully, with so many beautiful signs pointing to the shifting seasons. The first flowers are blooming–the always cheery and bright and abundant daffodils, the lovely forsynthia opening its own yellow petals one by one, and the violets, with a sweetness we can nibble. The air is full of breeze, and sound. Like the birds singing so happy to find food more easily, and the frogs, awakening.

strawberry, spring, plant, greenhouse, farm, farmingsalad mix, baby lettuce, spring, greenhouse, farm, farmingbraising mix, greenhouse, farm, farming, springgreen onions, farm, farming, greenhouse, spring, seasonal eatingA walk through our greenhouse these days, literally so green right now, provides a wonderful respite from the sight of the fields, still only slowly coming back to life, muddy and waiting. And an equally wonderful respite for our tongues. Fresh food, again. Our taste buds, singing too, we aren’t really that different from the birds.

And the earth calls, wake up. Wake Up!

And, I answer, I always answer, yes.

whether the weather

farming, patience, almost springThe snow here has given way to rain, rain that has been strikingly absent for us during this dry and crisp winter. And this morning, as those drops fall heavy on the house in a strong, beating rhythm that awakened us to our day, as I sit here with my coffee and listen to the the sound of water tapping metal, steady and sure, I notice the comfort it brings, the relief. Coming to this valley, lush, green, and moist, I didn’t know whether I would be one to hate the rainy season or not. Would I fall prey to despair, saddened by so much grey? Or was it really that bad?  How wet was it? Were these just exaggerations, weather tales lengthened by the human imagination, tricks of the mind, the way we seem to never recall weather accurately?

I’m not sure what the truth about the weather here is, nor if there really is ever any truth to the weather, but I do know that a lot of people come out here and feel like they are home, and that I am one of them. The grey, monotonous sky offered itself to me in a warm embrace. The fog laying on the hills, the Douglas fir rising predictably from the hilltops, it all said yes to me.

And although I know place isn’t the beginning or end of our happiness, it feels good to feel at home in your landscape.

All the early plantings we sneaked in the ground in January did not weather this last bit of weather so well. As my husband says, though, seed is cheap. We will replant.

I keep thinking about the home I left behind me in Nebraska. I am surprised at the very visceral feeling of discomfort the thought of frozen ground gives me. Maybe I am not all that strong after all, abating melancholy in such a dreary place, if I feel stricken down, now, at the thought of not always being able to touch the earth, feel the dirt,  I realize that I have become dependent on the land. To feed me, even now, in what is for us a harsh winter. I am under-evolved, slave to the soil, the life that doesn’t stop living itself out here.

Part plant myself, perhaps. I can’t remember how I survived anywhere else.

But we do, and we can, anywhere.  What people don’t always realize about all this rainy weather out here, unless they work outside or with the natural elements, is just how often the sun still does come out. But it catches me, often at sundown on many a wet, winter’s day. As if to say, it will never be all this way or all that way; it will, however, always be okay.

Or, rather, that it will always be.  And that, itself, is good enough for us all.

farming, pacific NW, Oregon, sun, rain, weather, mindfulness

learning to play in the snow

snow, farm, winter, funThe snow started falling Thursday.  Just the sight of it in the sky is pretty exciting around these parts since it doesn’t happen that often, but that it was slowly starting to stick to the ground, that the forecast predicted accumulation, this was big news.  So, we sent the papa to the store early, before the roads turned for the worse, and then we settled in, expecting at least one special snow day.  What we got instead was four of them, along with nearly a foot of perfect, fluffy snow.

It was amazing.

And so much fun.

snow fun, snow play, the importance of play, snow daysnow play, learnig to play, snow funsnow fun, play, the importance of play, snow funWith the landscape transformed, and everything on hold, we took to imagining we were in a cabin in the mountains.  We made the event into a little vacation and it has been just as relaxing and invigorating and awesome as a real get away.  It helped that at this time of the year we don’t have our weekend markets to get to, or pressing work, no major missed obligations.  Letting go of the “normal” and embracing the surprising, turning the worry into wonder, receiving this weather as a gift, it wasn’t too hard, which ended up making it such a blessing in so many ways.

tractor, snow, farm, winterIn all the busy that is life, the day to day to day, it can be so hard to really nourish ourselves, to fill up our tanks, keep the holy light within us burning bright.  I often think that I do a fine job of this with all the quiet moments with my thoughts I cultivate, the breathing, the stretching, the meditations, the time in nature, and so much reflecting; but there is a flip side to that type of practice that is important too, one I tend to shy away from.  You see, my first instinct upon trekking out into the snow is to marvel at the beauty, the stillness. I watch, carefully, the birds that appear alone in the landscape, drinking from the warm water that runs out of our kitchen into the field, checking old, dead sunflower heads for any remaining seed.  I listen and think how on a regular day even the small amount of traffic on our country road is noisy compared to this deep silence.  I bring along the camera, I notice the white, the red, the blue, the color the snow adds to the landscape in winter when things are all brown and grey, such a surprise.  I enjoy myself in these activities, immensely.

My children, on the other hand, immediately started to play, hard.

And although I consider the things I enjoy to be play for me, it wasn’t until the second day into our snowy-ness that I agreed, mostly to appease the children and their father, to get on the snow gear too, to ride the snow board, to sled down the hill.  And although I thought one time down I would have done my duty, I realized instead (of course!) that this was too much fun to be done with.  And as I warmed up from the up and down of it, the motion and moving, each swoosh of it all, I tapped into a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while.  I felt young.

In the middle of gliding down our powdery hill, going up over the small little jump the kids had made and landing, usually, in a tumble of giggles and yahoos in the snow, I realized that there is a fine line between accepting yourself for who you are, and loving that and being okay with that and doing your own thing and not trying to do all the things, between that and remaining stagnant and forgetting to be inquisitive and not trying new things. Between that and not remaining playful.  

Another fine lesson in balance it was, which seems to be life’s running theme.  Not black, not white, it keeps saying. Not stillness, nor flurry. Not just the in breath, not just the out.   The lesson, for me, was this–it is good for you to find things not just breathtaking, but breathmaking.  Check, I get it.

And I think my kids enjoyed what they saw as a different side of me.  A little lighter, a little louder.  A lot more than I was that morning.

snow, farm, snow day, funfarm, snow, snow days, funsnow, fun, snow day, farm, wintersnow, fun, farm, snow daysnow, children, fun, snow day, farmI am certain this is something I need to explore more this year, and the many more to come.  It seems like just the kind of thing to do when one is nearing forty.  Probably as good as all that loving and learning and accepting of me as the wonderful person I am was in my thirties, a (near) decade that I loved.  As I did my twenties, with all that questioning of all the things.  I want them all to be good because they all are.

Life is a magnificent journey, never stagnant, so I can not be either.