thick in the mystery of it all

loveImagine, here, the longest, sweetest, exhale of all. Every bit of tension in the shoulders, the low back, the stomach, released. Summer has gone.

Not that fall doesn’t come with its own troubles, especially when big changes take place that land you, once again, (always, I worry), under the weight of financial stress. But the fog, the cool night air, it wraps its arms around me, this house, slowly finding order from the chaos of the busy farm season, the children, all of us, it seems, and there is a comfort there. We keep moving forward, truly we do, but always in our own slow, steady way, always coming back to our center, which revolves around each other, our relationships, our duty and care for one another. It is hard, at times, when I want things to be easy, but then I remember, it probably isn’t easy for anyone, life, not if you are actively engaged in the living of it, anyway.

But it is in those tough spots we rub up against throughout our lives that we usually find the most meaning, our own meaning, if we are looking for it. I’ve answered a million questions that stalked me this summer just by facing the fire of it all. And for someone like me, that’s what I am here to do, so I can be fully present and wide open to the flow of life through and around me, so I can be of use to this world in the ways that I find laid out before me.

What am I really rambling about, anyway?

So much, and so little, I suppose.

This year, this year of the horse, has been nothing short of the wild ride I could feel it mounting to be back in January. And as challenging as it was for me, for the people in my life I love most of all, and as challenging as it continues to be, I find the ride and all of the ups and downs that come with it all worth it all.

Because I can’t imagine it another way. Static doesn’t hold much appeal over here and besides, we know and hold onto the fact that there is no arrival, it is all about the movement and what we choose to do with the moment that matters in this game. So, worry and joy live side by side, trial and bliss. We keep moving because life is moving. We live fully in the fog in the fall, we face the sun in the summer. We stand in the fire come winter, so we can rebirth ourselves each spring. We grow, wild, here on this farm. Together, apart, thick in the mystery of it all.

insight, follow your dream, mindful living, intentional living, conscious living, inner work, small farming, writing, life learning

Lines Drawn

ocean, beach, summer, growth, changeDrawing lines in the sand is futile.
The waves move up and wash away the ease of your gesture,
so soft,
the image of what seemed there, gone.
Imperceptible.

And even if your feet get wet, even if the world feels like it has stopped
spinning,
it hasn’t. It won’t. And the waves won’t stop, either.
They could take you away with them.

Because,

we are so light.

They just might sweep us all out to sea.
If our lines are not finally drawn.

 

blackberry bramble

farming, challenges, family, summer, sunset,

Perhaps you have wondered where I have been. Not here, no. But, under the sun, every day. It has been the strangest, hardest summer around in a while, and though the thorns have dug in deep, and I find myself living ahead of myself, my mantra almost every day, “next summer, next summer, next summer,” I come back around, always, by sunset. Then I remember, the plenty of good, too. We have gone to the river practically every day, the kids transformed into the most beautiful fish (and one mermaid). And I know that this summer is this only summer, so I don’t forget to let the smell of the blackberries, overripe from all the extra heat we’ve had in our normally more moderate clime, so sticky and tasting like kool-aid, I don’t forget to let this wash over me and sink in. I don’t ever want to jump ahead, I always want to feel it all. It always come around, like me with every sunset, to have been good in its way. I am always grateful, in the end.

sunset, farming, summer, challenges, gratitude, joy

cucumber dreams

cucumber vines, beauty in nature, love, farmingThey say time flies when you are having fun, but really, after a certain point in your life, time flies no matter if you are having fun or not. I haven’t been able to get a blog post in since the first morning yawn of April. That is a long time ago. But no, really, it was just a blink of the eye.

I had planned on keeping everything under control this farm season, my house, my writing schedule, my mama-hood-y goodness. I would still make time for us to see friends. I wouldn’t have a mountain of crazy to uncover come late autumn, I wouldn’t disappear. I wanted to keep summer from barreling over us faster than we could keep the purposeful and intentioned steps of our feet on the ground. But summer. Farming. Maybe it isn’t really possible.

I am trying to be gentle on myself. I have these four children, and we are all in this together, and no matter how much of a super-human I feel like I am supposed to be, I am not. I am super, but I am also human. I feel compelled to do all these things, but I don’t see for a minute how I can do them all well. As the children get older, they find that just being on the farm and snacking on fresh food and having life be consumed by this one thing that is such a good, good thing, such a necessity in times gone, isn’t as enough as it once was. And I think–rather, I know–that I need a few more hands in the field and in the home and that my two are not as enough as they once seemed, either. And another summer is going to be gone before I know it. Another year. I don’t like the feeling of life controlling me, but perhaps all along I was wrong to think that I could control it. I feel a bit like a rock, stuck, wondering if there is really any purpose to this madness. I wonder, too much, perhaps, about everything.

So, I try not to. Instead, I get up, I walk the fields, my fields. The plants, my loves. I marvel at the coming abundance. I sweat, I ache, I let my body do what it was made to do. Move and work, provide. I think, on the summer solstice, of winter. It isn’t that far away. I let go a little, and let those vegetables wait while I find my breath and stay present with the kids, my dear sweet children. I want to fix what I perceive to be broken, but there isn’t a fix, not at this moment, not now, midsummer. So, I surrender as best I can, not knowing what to do, but doing the best I can for now.

I eagerly await the first cucumber. I will let it be divine.

It will be, divine.

finding balance: wild cultivations

backberries, hemlock, weeds, farmthistle blooms, weeds, farm, thistlesamaranth, weeds, farmbindweed, morning glory, weeds, farmdock, weeds, farmlamb's quarter, weeds, edible weeds, farmThis week, in the back of my mushy brain, hot from long hours in warm weather weeding, weeding, weeding, this was my recurring thought, “why not go into the edible/medicinal weed business????”

I mean, seriously, these plants GROW! They clearly are the top in their class and need no help from us to flourish.

And not only are they really the best at growing vigorously, they are the best at harnessing nutrients and making them available to us. That whole thing about the narrowing of our food system to those forty or so vegetables you will find at our market booth or at the supermarket brings with it a two-fold problem, the first being this limited variety of foods we now eat.  But the other, more serious problem is that in the process of really cultivating these certain crops from spindly, wild, weeds into the nice, big, tasty vegetables we eat today, we lost, in comparison, the amount of nutrition we get from doing the right thing and eating all of our veggies.

I, for one, don’t get too hung up on this.  The fact is, we are where we are in history, and we can’t go back, we can only go forward.  That is what we try to do here on the farm.  And I also know from our own experience that not all of the wild edibles we have played around with eating can qualify as much more than survival food.  They just aren’t that exciting.  Still, I appreciate the wisdom of “weeds”, and have come to love and use many of them for both their taste and their nutritive/healing properties.  That strong, earthy taste you get from nettles and lamb’s quarters (bottom photo) is the taste, literally, of earth.  Those plants are just made of minerals.

And much like the vegetables we grow, which I see as both the best tasting foods for our plates and as important elements of our heath and well-being (hello my delicious daily vitamins!), some weeds are like this times one hundred.

Take the weeds I put in a jar of vinegar many weeks ago, to have on hand as a potent calcium supplement.  Most of these things I was weeding out of my landscape beds already, like yellow dock, plantain, red clover, dandelion, and burdock.  Others were from my herb garden, all of them planted last fall, so just itching to be put to use–Japanese mugwort, comfrey, wormwood.  I threw in some raspberry leaf.  I was given the idea by a friend, and it seemed like such a good use for these plentiful plants.

What ended up as a surprise, though, was that this vinegar, which I made to use medicinally ended up tasting amazing.  It is absolutely delicious.   We use it to make all of our salad dressings now.  Who knew, right?!

So as I weeded the seemingly monstrous invasion of some kind of amaranth in a section of one our fields this week, my joke was that the weed business was, truly, the business to be in.  And joke, though it was, we are almost ready to harvest one of the only other wild edibles besides nettles that we bring to market next week, its relative, lamb’s quarters.  It is, right now, a love/hate relationship.

Still, this subject has always fascinated me.  One of our goals on this farm is to nourish our land so that it can produce the most nourishing food possible.  But that the wild edible plants–the weeds–will always have be more nourishing fascinates me.  It also, thankfully, gives me a chance to pause and appreciate that in this somewhat constant glitch in of our system, the weeds, I can see the amazing beauty and design that is the natural world.  It reminds me that we, as land stewards and sustainable farmers, can utilize and mimic it, even if it is something we can’t fully recreate.

Because, in the end, we weeded like crazy this week.  We have our own agenda, and as pretty as those bindweed flowers are, that we have let them bloom is not great.  That they are climbing up our sweet, modern apple trees is not great.  They are not welcome here, on this farm.  At least in our fields.

And the agricultural mind has to feel this way, has to do this, even if we, on this farm, aim more for balance than anything.   The shifting and shaping of things towards our will is a part of farming.  We are amplifying what we what from any given piece of land, in terms of yield, by a lot.  We are doing the dictating.

So, some weeds, yes, we will take and use.  This is an area that I really do want to learn as much as I can about.  But, good lord, some of these weeds, though I appreciate them for their tenacity, their demise is the first thing I think about when I wake up.  There is much weeding to be done, always, at this time of year.  We have to work more than it seems like we have time to right now to get where we need to be.

But soon, the tiny plants we’ve put in the ground will be the vigorously growing ones, blooming.  And then, producing, wildly!  That they need a little help from us now is just part of the bargain we’ve struck with them.  The agreement of cultivation.  Of growing food.  And this has its own sense of beauty and design, even if its one best kept to by some really hard work on our part.  We keep our end of the bargain sewed to the seams of our dirty pants, our well worn, tired, and exhausted bodies, and our scratched and soar hands.  It evens out in the end, and I think this approach is a good balance for our times.  It’s our kind of growing wild.