The smell of tomato as we began to plant this year’s crop was strong, reminding me of that one and only singular taste of summer to come. Salivating, taking in the sun and the beauty of this after dinner hour, it was a very easy job to get started on. My oldest son was helping–some–but more than physical help, he was definitely good company. It was all bliss and joy for a while.
But because it is good to be honest and because it is the truth, 300 plants in and only a third of the way done, in need of water and upset with myself for not being able to plant in a straight line without a string (which I did not bring down to the field with me), I was exasperated, despite all the lovely around me.
So, I stopped for the night and just let the sunset wash away the day as it so brilliantly does, knowing that piece by piece is how any good job gets done anyways. We would start again tomorrow.
Which we didn’t. That tomorrow was yesterday and early on in the day found me injured beyond simple repair. A funky back tweak and I was laying in bed for most of the day.
Tonight, the farmer is in town at a banquet being held to recognize distinguished community members, of which, he was named outstanding young farmer. We were named together, but really, he is the farmer and I am merely the paid help and fancy PR rep. And even though we are both a bit cynical at times and feel neither young any more, nor all that outstanding as farmers (aside from the fact that we are still here and haven’t (and won’t) give up despite all the challenges), we were deeply thankful for such an honor.
And, I was really looking forward to a night of recognizing the many other wonderful folks in our community, growing and strengthening connections new and old and all that, in addition to receiving our own accolades.
But instead, I am home still dealing with this intense back pain/injury that I shouldn’t even have, hobbling around the house not planting the rest of the tomatoes, or attending this lovely banquet. And two kids have sore throats, coughs, and mild fevers. What!!
The timing kind of surprises me. I tend to expect the best, and things tend to work out favorably for us–knock on wood–but whatever, right?
The thing about life is that we don’t get anywhere overnight. Or in one night. The tomato planting is a big one, the road to our farming award seven years long, and I am trying to do it all for the farmer while he keeps up with two businesses through the busy planting season for the first time ever. Slow and steady and all that good stuff really does apply.
And, this man, who has been amazing, doing practically all the farming for most of our seven years out here, really is the one who deserves to be out tonight, getting some attention. Because the truth is that he could really care less, in the very best possible sense of this expression. He does little in his life for acknowledgement from the outside world, a trait I truly admire in him. So, in my book, he doubly deserves this.
Meanwhile, the other night as my son and I sat by those trays of un-planted tomatoes and watched the sun set–and the sunsets on our farm are truly breathtaking–I didn’t think for a second I wouldn’t be out there finishing the job the next day, but that is how it ended up. Another lesson in letting go, I suppose. They are all around me.
But even sore to the bone and so very ready to feel better, we get to do the same thing again tonight. Being here, witness to such beauty every night is its own reward too. And such rewards can go a long way to keep us up and at them when we might rather crawl into bed. My goal is to finish that planting job sometime this week. My back should play along (with the help of some acupuncture I hope!).
And my sweet husband, who works as hard as all the other outstandingly hard working farmers out there, can work just as hard but without too much worry about not getting it all done, because we now know that if we just take each day (and setting sun) as it comes, piece by piece, it all adds up to a lifetime of accomplishment. Learning that lesson is perhaps one of the best rewards of these last long, hard, wonderful years.
Because life will be full of rewards, some big, some small, but not always in the way we imagined. And the most important thing to hold onto is that life itself is really the biggest one of them all. But we have to show up every day to really get that. And sometimes for years on end, we might need to just keep at that one thing, over and over again, showing up. Simply paying attention and working hard and loving life for the glory of nothing at all.
Perhaps, for nothing at all, but the mere but spectacular glory of one more day to watch the sun explode in color as it nestles into the hills of the horizon.