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.

 

wash station wednesday: time travelling, bob dylan, and us, tangled, together

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.

Together.

In the shop

in the shopin the shop IIin the shop IIIin the shop IVBowls of wooden love.

You can fill them up with what you will.

But before any of that,

they were filled with the devoted and patient touch of two craftsmen.

Creators.

Sharing with the tree~art.

And the beauty inside of everything.

AJJA Wood!  Back today at the Portand Saturday Market!

From the trenches of a holistic life

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There were some great big sunny days this week!  So much sun that I was able to grab handfuls of it and stuff it in my pocket to pull upon when needed, because it was needed, being squashed between rain and more rain.  Serious, heavy rain.  We’ve had so much early flooding this year, its surprising even when we know not to be surprised by the weather anymore.

On the sunniest and warmest of these days, the kids and I walked to the main field together, presumably to pick grapes to snack on because the farmer had admonished us for letting the very last of them languish up there.  We were definitely too late on that one, the grapes were completely done for.  It seemed like an odd expedition anyways, here at almost Christmastime.  But then again, some of the things we found along the way weren’t really of winter as I still think of it–the mid-western type, where surely no flowers are still blooming?

The baby was very proud of his calendula blossom.  He was fascinated by the running water.  We found exactly enough apples left on a tree out there to feed each of us–and my oh my, were they sweet and good.  I thought about how much better it would be to have more of them still, to save them for December, or late November at least, this variety is so much sweeter then.   I made a mental note for next year.

It was a glorious day, almost beyond glorious (that sun!).  But I was burdened with a little melancholy too.  As we walked through the quiet, mucky rows of spent food and tattered beet greens, I couldn’t help but think of how this weekend would be different.  No harvesting at all, not even the farmer walking the fields.  The first week without a harvest in a long, long time.

He has been day and night in the wood shop, getting ready to start a new market this weekend in the city with the woodworking business.  Our booth at the most wonderful (idyllic is the slogan), local, year round market was taken down last week.  We have been bringing our winter produce there for the last two cold seasons, spending every Saturday there for the last two and half years, and it has been so great.  But it is definitely time for us to find a better way to manage just about everything on our farm and home better, and this was part of that lofty goal.

It was an amazingly hard decision.  Taking things down last Saturday was heartbreaking.  All of the other vendors there are like our family.  Our children roam that space, interact with their community there.  We all barter and exchange goods in a way far removed from societal norms.  The whole experience enriches us beyond measure.  And all of those intangible benefits made the business decision that much harder to make.

In the field, with my sadness–because of my sadness–I found myself coming to terms with it all.  That this impacted us emotionally struck me as a great and wonderful thing.  It was like a perfect affirmation that we were, in fact, doing things the right way.

Shouldn’t all businesses be so connected to their community, to the people involved far and wide, to altruisms, expectations, intangible rewards?

Wouldn’t that trump a business model based solely on numbers?

I’ve always liked to apply the word holistic to our farming enterprise.  Much like it is used in the natural health fields, I think of our farm and the way we choose to farm and run our business as whole.  Our lives, the lives of our customers, out greater community, the world at large.  The micro-organisms in the soil, the macro-organism that is the entire farm.  It is all connected, and we like to look at it in its entirety.  Taking in every aspect of it, from the human to the bacterial, from the profit margin to the life experience, we have never been the type to be able to separate or isolate one part of it from the other. To hold any one part above the rest and focus too much on it.   Just like with our own health, if we don’t consider all of the aspects of what make a thriving person, we know we won’t ever have true well-being.

And so even though part of me was cursing the fact that we felt this way, that we have to worry about these larger ties and commitments to building something for our community besides our own farm, that we can’t just easily say that it isn’t the right thing for us at this time because we are also concerned about what the right thing is for a whole host of other people, that we are so unforgivingly idealistic…even though all of that weighs on us sometimes, I am glad for it.

There is much talk right now about what the end of the month might bring, if anything at all.  Prophecies, doomsdays, jokes, fears.  I do not get worked up about these kinds of things usually.  I let it all come and go, and I’ve always felt like as human beings we are just the same stories playing out over and over again, good and bad.

But something hit me over the head a few months ago and has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, things are changing.  It is hard for me not to imagine the coming youths living any way but holistically.  There is so much growing interconnectedness.  And seeing these threads that connect us all, and choosing to live and act with this in the forefront of our minds, maybe that will bring an evolution of sorts.

Or maybe I am, once again, being overly idealistic.  I know that for us, we aren’t very good at doing things any other way.  Even though we won’t be harvesting for market this winter, we are still moving forward.  Easing the burden a bit by harvesting by special orders each week, lessening the overhead, still getting what we do grow in the winter into the hands of someone in our community, from some wonderful local chefs to a handful of  hungry community members waiting for the bulk of our production to kick in.  It is all good.

We say this all the time, I know.  But even though things change and morph constantly, and the line we are walking on is not a straight shot like we were led to believe it would be, so far in this life, we wouldn’t want it any other way.

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A heart full, thanks giving.

This year for Thanksgiving we mapped our hearts, calling forth the things, big and small, we are filled with gratitude for.  As you can see, the six year old girl in our house had plenty of things she wanted to list, all good things too, I think.  Who isn’t thankful for fairies, rainbows, and butterflies?  Fun, family, and friends?  My own heart was divided in much the same way as it is every year.  The pillars, the foundation, the same.  Those things I have vested most of my energy in are the very things that support me so well.

In fact, besides the annual love letter to our CSA members which will follow, in looking back at my other Thanksgiving posts (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 three times) I could see that the trend holds true.  The things I am thankful for only grow more deeply important to me each year,  more deeply sustaining.  The small parts might change some, but not even they do always.  Delicata squash and arugula are still the two veggies that made the list, so seasonally delicious at this time of year, I can’t help myself.

The things that have subtly changed this year are those growing children I live with, a year more into being who they are, a new age and stage for each of them.  This year, it is the strong love of an eleven year old boy that I am especially blessed with, the goofiness now gracing our house more often than not from the eight year old boy , who also happens to give the best snuggles.  The fierce opinions of a six year old girl challenging me to continue to make room for all the peoples of this home, thankfully accompanied by some fierce love and a big, big heart, not to mention stellar storytelling skills and a beautiful imagination.  And there is the wonder of seeing the world through the two year old’s eyes, the joy of slowing way, way down and just being present with him.  Love.

Of course, the farmer is my never ending source of inspiration.  I am eternally inspired by his gentle, caring nature, and thankful, always, for his never ending ability to make me laugh.  And to make others laugh too.  I am thankful for how genuine and lighthearted he can be.

Sweet and good friends, the wood stove, all the children I know, new babies, gardens and canning jars, books, writing, music, sunshine and rain,  all of it, everything.  I am in love with life beyond measure.  I can’t help but be thankful for it all.

But it is important, like always, for me to say that I am truly, honestly, more than can really be conveyed, beyond words thankful for the support of our community for our farm and most significantly, the support of our farm members and the thanks they keep giving us.  This was the first year where I feel like our faith was really tested.  To be frank, there were times in the year we were imagining all kinds of different scenarios for next year, the first time we ever felt like we might eventually lose faith in farming itself if we didn’t change something.  Maybe no farmer’s markets, maybe no CSA. We just weren’t sure it was working.  We have calmed down a lot, and although we do know that we have to structure the farm according to its own unique characteristics, the one thing we were sure of in the end was that the CSA was the best part of our operation.

And that was because of all of your thanksgiving to us.  The love, joy, happiness, and yumminess you let us know our farm and food gave you.  We realized, like always, that we are eternally grateful to have all of you in our lives.  This mutually beneficial set up is really working.  We are so, so thankful for the CSA model, our CSA members, and the immeasurable rewards we all reap from this one little (or big) part of our lives.

Some things never change.  The cornerstone for a thankful life is knowing those things that really matter, that really make the difference.  Knowing them, being grateful for them, nourishing them so they keep on nourishing you.  With that equation, a heart should be full and strong and ready enough to forge ahead through another year, able to take the good and bad that may come along in that course, without too much cracking as a result.  The territories mapped out just enough to be sure of, with just enough open for the new things, big and small, that might need a spot too.  That is where my heart stands.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!