This week marked the start of our summer farmer’s market season. Wednesdays are now full harvest days for the farmer, who handles most of the actual harvesting. He is fast and efficient, and can get right out in the field with the rising sun. For me, instead, harvest day really means wash station day. After breakfasting, and face washing, and getting every one dressed and settled on some activities or ready to go outside, I spend harvest day cleaning, bundling, and counting vegetables.
And each season, towards the end of the year, I find myself wrapping the whole thing up in my head as a soundtrack. The wash station comes alive with music throughout the year–loud, getting work done music–the likes of which we don’t really employ in the house too often. Unless we are all working together cleaning up, or for our often enough after dinner dance party-do the dishes get downs, inside our home, loud music does not go over that well with four children’s voices to be heard and all of the other noises of their living and playing. The wash station is the last refuge for me, for such. I relish it.
Yesterday, starting the season and starting the day, I reached way back in time for some classic Bob Dylan~Blood on the Tracks. It was just right. And even though there were many other songs in the air throughout the rest of the day as we bagged lettuce and bunched radishes, it was those songs from this brilliant, heart moving album that stayed in my mind. With the first bit of “early in the morning, the sun was shining” I, too, was back in time.
Hair blowing in the wind, hot summer sun shining on bare arms, a moving car, an unknown road. Young.
Music is, for some people, as necessary as water, and I am one of those, no doubt. I see all of my life through the sounds that touched me in the times I was moving through them. From waking in my early teens on Sunday mornings to the sounds of my father’s loud music heralding in the day–Cowboy Junkies or U2 on the best days, and I would just lay in bed and listen, gazing out my window, so completely sure that anything in the world was possible, or some days, Dwight Yoakam or Johnny Cash or some other semblance of country music that was probably on the better end of that spectrum than not, but which I could not at that time find any way to appreciate, and I would cover my head with the pillow till it ended–from then to today. Soundtracks.
Thanks to my father, who was questionably qualified to raise children but had pretty great tastes in, and a deep appreciation for, music, I gladly inherited this love. And I am sure he is the one to first introduce me to Dylan too, but I didn’t came to love these old songs when he did. It wasn’t until I had left the home, and was free in almost every way, till they meant anything at all to me.
After moving out of the home, during my college years, I spent as much time as I could travelling around the country, trying to see it all and have as many adventures as I could. And so much the better is music on the move, in the travelling vehicle. More often than not, that travelling involved, or revolved around, live music as well. Dancing, laughing, the sounds brought the whole world together, it seemed.
But even then, and definitely now, I knew that this was not the only reason for hopping in a car with dear friends and taking off. The lure of the open road, of spending months at a time on it, living off of it, was that it allowed for the thickening screen, even then at that age, of societal constraints to fall completely away. It magnified every true thing. Karma was instant, your attitude determined everything, an open mind was wholly necessary. You encountered, every day, things new and out of your control. From the many and beautiful but different and new landscapes of the land, to the many and beautiful but different and new faces in every new town. Everything was unique, surprising. There was always something to learn.
And sometimes the most wonderful parts of it all bubbled to the surface through the cracks in the adventure, the car troubles or the getting lost. The peeling away of it all and seeing that you could either be ugly under pressure or your most magnificent.
The times in between travels, in the day to day of classes, studies, restaurant jobs, and relationships, my goal was always to remember those things that seemed so clear on the road. The lessons learned.
The farmer had some wanderlust in him as well, which eventually led him to me, standing, waiting, in the middle of everywhere and nowhere at all, the middle of the country itself (or quite close to it anyway). And our own love story unfolds in a journey we shared across secret rivers found on the roadside in Kentucky, all night drives in hopes of watching the sun rise on the Atlantic Ocean, mosquito filled tents in Minnesota, and ultimately, many, many concerts along the way. Him, my own travelling minstrel, my favorite musician of all. The mingling of all these passions unfolding through a summer, the sounds still the sweetest soundtrack of all.
And now we are farmers.
A farm is, in so many ways, the complete opposite of life on the road. We weren’t even sure, so many years ago, could we really settle this love of the new, this love of adventuring?
Of course we did, in every possible way. We were crazy to settle down back then, even in our uncertainty. We tied ourselves not only to each other, but to four children, a home, a community, and ultimately, a piece of land. Stewards of each other’s hearts, four small pairs of hands, and fourteen acres (in desperate need of some care), we were bound beyond bound, called to duties of the highest order. The weekend camping trip has even became nearly impossible.
But, we have never looked back.
As the signature sound of a one time poet-musician filled the air yesterday and I travelled to this other time, I had the smallest, faintest whispering of desire for that feeling. That feeling. On the road. Is there anything like it?
But throughout the day, reflecting and remembering, it came to me that this completely settled life we chose instead, the seeming opposite of wandering, offers us, daily, that same instant reminder of what is important and true. Being tied to the land and its cycles is perhaps the only other thing for us, folks in need of constantly removing the screens that blur or block the underlying meanings, that can satisfy. Life on the farm gets us back to where we started from, and everyday we observe the magnificent mystery of living a life on this earth. Every day, lessons in optimism and perseverance, in what it takes to make it through every twist and turn of this, life, the ultimate adventure.
The constant reminder, the sure knowledge, that good work returns more blessings than not.
It was a very rainy wash station day, this first Wednesday. And the first market of the season~buckets of rain. But it was also a very good day, back together with other farmers and market friends, seeing some new faces, all of us together for a wet day of community.
“You do what you must do, and ya do it well.”
To be tied to all of this sounds better than all the songs combined and is a song unto itself. Down the road of a new season, we travel.