filled up, full moon

full moon, october, farm, sunset, life learning, gratitude, mindfulness, loveYou wouldn’t believe, the sky here, is so blue this October.

A new color scape for my eyes–a perfect, clear blue sky mingling with those browns and yellows and greens–I feel like I’ve never seen it before, like it is brand new.   And even though I can’t paint, I wish I could.

All my paintings right now would be of the bright green grass and the dark, green evergreens that from afar, look like someone’s quick sketch against the sky, aglow with golden light and foiled so perfectly in this autumn story against the turning leaves of those trees shedding their skin, shaking off the summer in brown and yellow.  Wondering, what parts of us are deciduous, which, ever staying?

I want to find these exact four colors and paint them like swaths next to each other and hang it on my wall so I never forget how beautiful they were, together, this fall.  The perfect combination.

By the middle of the day, if I am harvesting, I can strip down to bare my arms to this warm enough, October sun.  It is all kinds of glorious.  But in the morning,now, I must layer.  Wool, warmth, to protect me from the quick intake, the cold breath.  It takes time for me to expect, and to want, that kind of greeting from the morning air.  But it signals the season, a must.

I watch a rotund, Autumn moon rise, and know that the fields are not so full any more, but that I am, filled.

There is still a brink, but I am no longer tottering.  The kids and I are nearly in our fall groove.  It is nice.

Moving through life, things change, always.  Nothing is static.  Every three months, the world here turns itself inside out, a brand new season.  And for us, on this farm, that means a brand new rhythm.  It is good practice for living, so much change, over and over again, throughout the year.  Always moving forward, always changing, but blessed be, always in a circle.

Each time around, we know some things, and some things, we don’t.

But all this movement, all this circling, it teaches us.  We learn the big truth, that we can never just stay put.  That life is flux.

We know that all we can do at any moment in time is fill ourselves up on whatever is around us, whatever that is.  And that we can’t hold onto any of it, that we have to let things keep moving, no matter if we are ready to or want to, or even if we feel like we can”t live with all the letting go.  And we learn that even if we want to move on, that adjusting takes a lot of time and energy and is no simple thing.  We learn, really, necessity.

We know, deep in our bones now, that the deal we make with life is this, forward, forward, around, around, until eventually, we fly off the wheel.  No one moment in time contains us.  Keeping on is all we can do.

We know that holding on and digging deep, that these things only serve us if we accept them as fleeting.

That all we have is this.

Folding into a warm embrace when we can.

Laying down, and deeply tending, roots, that will and can, never hold us.

love flows

 

beach, love, mindfulnessthrough you, through me,

love flows and sets us free.

love, beach, mindfulnessToday, my only goal is to exhale, deeply.

Exhale back into space and time, my home, my kids.

Our last summer farmer’s market was Thursday, and although we will continue harvests for our CSA and our weekend market for another seven weeks, these last many weeks, from September until now, are the crazy-making time on the farm.  The nearly too much time of the year, the so very much food in the fields, the explosion, the reverse of the calm before the storm.  The storm, before the sweet calm.

And doubling up on markets to boot.

A friend asked me earlier this year if our work out here on the farm and in the shop felt sustainable, and I responded then, not quite in the thick of the busiest time yet, that I had come to accept that our summers were not a picture of balance.  In fact, for so long I kept trying to find balance until I finally got a clue and changed my perspective on the whole thing.  Balance, at certain times in your life story, isn’t the right word to be searching for.

But things do need to be sustainable, and I knew then, when I answered her, that it was sustainable because it wasn’t this busy all the time.  We have a little dark side of the cycle out here in the winter, a time of rest, and it regroups us, even if it is nearly impossible to remember this during the wild ride of September.

Nevertheless, we are here now, slowing down.  The summer crops are spent, the fall and winter crops are growing still, but slowly, soon to stop for the year and simply await harvest or flowering, come spring.  The leaves are changing color too, which out here means yellow.  Golden, against the ever present green and the turning to brown all around.  These colors, this time, it stirs you, in the deep parts.

I want to let go of all that intensity, and fall back into my heart, the only place that matters.  The trappings of life, even a good and happy life with days of living free, on a farm, and working hard, can oddly still detach us from the heart of the matter.  The point of this whole mysterious thing that falls between our first and our last breath.

Love.

And why this takes so much intention to hold onto, is really the mystery to me, but I know it, deep down, and I return to it as often as I can remember to.

So, today, at least, I have enough space around me, in what is to come this week, to really see these sweet faces around me, to know that I won’t have to worry about my-busy versus their-needs.  It is a relief, for me.  I am the worst multi-tasker.

You see, the truth is, I don’t want to be anything at all, really, when I grow up.  Why should we be something?  I just want to be love and be present, in this love.

That is really why I came here in the first place.

keeping our heads above water in the deluge

after the storm

farm, farming, wetland, flooded veggiesflooded veggies, farm, farmingwet carrots, flooded veggies, farm, farmingbattered beetsfield of greenssurvived!This weekend, our little neck of the woods was visited by three storm systems that brought with them some “unseasonable” amounts of rain, pretty high, unfriendly winds, and a quick and somewhat depressing end to my just begun love affair with the new season of autumn. I felt cheated.

Because even though the Pacific Northwest is known for being a wet place and all, our late Septembers and Octobers really are usually quite beautiful, with a fair share of beautiful, sunny, crisp, fall-like days.  Sure, there are rainy days in the mix, too, but we don’t usually feel inundated until much later in this precious season.  And so earlier last week, when I had finished the wild and overloaded part of this year’s tomato harvest, and the shorter day length started to make for shorter work days, I found myself breathing deeply into this sweet time of the year, ready to relax. So much less hectic, but still so abundant.

I was already revelling in these changes of schedule, of harvests. I love the beginning of each new season so equally, I have to call them all my favorite.  My taste buds were singing, happy and excited for the new foods on our plates.  Our meals were a perfect combination of the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.  Arugula, lemon cucumber, and colorful mixed cherry tomato salads with balsamic vinaigrette.  Roasted zucchini and sweet red pepper tossed with turnip green pesto.  Kale, glorious, delicious kale, back from a summer’s hiatus and cooked into stews with beets and the last of the tomatoes, the sweet, paste varieties. I had even gotten to a little fall house cleaning and the kids were all working their way into our homeschooling groove.  It felt perfect.

And all in all, this whole year has been pretty perfect.  Especially on the farm. Busy, yes, and a bit of a scramble on the labor front as I realized about halfway through the year that “the farmer” wasn’t joking when he said I needed to take over the farm business for him while he expanded his woodworking one.  But the weather!  The weather this year was perfect.  If you have followed along with us for long or been part of our farm community in real life, you know that the weather has not been so perfect these last couple of years.  And so, this–this was wonderful.  So wonderful  I even mentioned earlier this year that I thought it was a little gift to us from the universe, a nice, soothing balm for our farming wounds from the year before.

And it really has been.  But as I took notes and made plans for next season, I tried to remind myself that I can’t really expect anything, at all, from the weather or a growing season.  Especially not perfect.

As farmers, we tend to take the most immediate data and apply it first to the coming year.  It is assumed, and generally true, that the issues that have come up in prior years have already been addressed, and so each year we tweak things a little with the added layer of knowledge the previous growing season has given us.  We can’t always plan for things we can’t conceive of, but those we have seen and dealt with, we generally will always plan for, even if they never happen again.  The question that kept coming up for me was how to adjust plans after a great year when you know you can’t plan on another such year again? And I wondered, is that a good way to live, to not count on the perfect year?  Where was my faith, my trust?

The truth is that each year, perhaps besides our very first, has always been as good and bad as it could be, perfect in its own imperfect way. And maybe I cursed us without knowing it, as I thought about all of this, but I don’t think so.  I do tend to go forward, believing.  And I really was sure that this season would end as perfectly as it began, until this weekend’s weather changed that, pretty dramatically.  All that “unseasonable” rain led to part of our growing space that was still in production going under water.  “Surprise, surprise”, the world seemed to say, because even if we know that our lower field, a seasonal wetland, is destined to go under water every fall with crops still in it, and even though we know that no matter when this happens, it never feels good, we also felt like we knew the general time frame to expect this to happen, which was nowhere close to this early!

But it did, and it is kind of terrible, but it is kind of okay too.  Those things we have learned already, from other seasons, had led us to plant our rows in this field in a manner that let the water move away from the vegetables as much as possible, and this meant that at first, especially, the water didn’t pool where crops were planted–a good thing!  And this year, we had a separate field for our fall greens that we had observed would stay dry longer than other spaces, and this field, my field of greens, stayed dry and harvest-able–so, so good!  The crops in the field that did, eventually, get too wet in the end, were summer crops we could say good-bye too, like zucchini and pickling cucumbers, or crops we could store, like carrots and beets and our winter squash planting.  It took more work than I imagined it would to harvest them all at once, but I did, and now they are out of the water and ready to store for the next few months as we finish out our CSA and market harvests for the year.  All good!

Not a perfect, happily ever after ending, but a perfectly okay ending, this storm proved to be.

And that is kind of my favorite secret of being grown up, anyway.  The knowledge that happily ever after isn’t perfect like we may have imagined it would be in our limited, juvenile experiences.  That it isn’t always smooth sailing or just right conditions that will make us happy.  But, rather that it is vastly more perfect for being messy and hard.  That growing, sometimes on our own, sometimes together, but always, growing, is the important part, not any particular outcome or expectation we may have once put our faith in.  And that, truly, in all times, good and bad, it is, life, important and wonderful, for what it is, our life.

This weekend’s deluge was just another interesting part of our story, something to experience with both dread and then gratitude, something to laugh about for its absurdity, to learn from in small and big ways.  My children love having water to splash in and their adventurous, happy take on things reminded me to lighten up.  And as for growth, yesterday, in rain gear and water past my ankles, bringing in those storage crops, I experienced perhaps the hardest day of work I’ve had out there in those fields this year.  And it left me feeling sore and tired, but it also left me feeling wildly alive.

And in that moment yesterday, I felt such a deep connection to that land, deeper than I have even felt from living here on it for seven years and helping Andre run the farm business on it for six years, and even more than I have from seeing it deeply with my writer’s eyes and loving it greatly with my big, old heart.  This year of really working hard with it, this soil and land, has tied me to it even more.  It is powerful stuff.  I felt schooled, in the best possible way.

And so today, even though some of us in this household, including myself, are under the weather after so much weather this weekend, I still feel great.  The sun is shining, I do believe we will still have plenty of lovely autumn days to come. And I do think I may just be able to relax, proper like, beside the first fire of the season, soon. And tonight for dinner, maybe we will dip into our first acorn squash too.  Both have not quite been necessary yet, but both will serve to kind of rekindle the love affair I do still want to have with this time of year after our somewhat stormy start.

And I’ll let this weekend’s deluge drain away down my back, smooth and easy, so that I can move forward without too much weight to carry, while I simultaneously keep it flooded in my veins, as all good parts of our story are, perfectly imperfect as that may be.

a monday getaway

monday getawayfreedompeacemuch needed.

Because, sometimes, all the work in the world should, and can, wait.

Especially if you, like me, are like this swell guy–

“I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”  -E B White

Thankfully, all of my chosen professions–mother, farmer, writer–combine the two.  But, all of them are also HARD work.  I get tired.  We all get tired.

So, when the farmer says lets pack a lunch and go to the lake, I say okay.

Even if the tomatoes, split from the rain, don’t get processed and are fed to the pigs instead.

Even though I want to paint the walls of my home and chop all the overgrown blackberries in the landscape before we have our open farm potluck in a few weeks.

These days, who knows how many there are?

We center our lives around doing good work, and honestly, it sometimes feels too exhausting.  But hey, even though we chose to farm not as a hobby but as a profession, and even though we chose four kids instead of one or two, and even though we chose to homeschool all of them (hundreds they feel like, sometimes) to boot–even though all of that, we really are free and independent and go to sleep with tired, happy hearts.  We really are living the good life, as good as life can be, for us.

And so, that is why we do it.

For Monday getaways.

And, all the other stuff, good and bad, in between.

sunshine and lollipops and lots of tomato sauce

heirloom tomatoes, canning season, sustainable farming, farming, gardening, tomato sauce, summerWhen I am walking the rows of tomato plants in late August, so much sun on my back and sweat on my brow, and the sticky smell of tomatoes mixed with fermenting blackberries surrounds me, both intoxicating and suffocating, I remind myself to soak it all in.  In field work, and hard work of any kind, mantras help.  Remember this in your heart, in your mind, in your body.  Remember.

The smells, the heat.  The feeling of my body moving.  There is something so settling about the grey that will cover the skies here in the Pacific Northwest come late fall, and then stay all through the winter and spring.  Those skies create a sameness that spreads out covering everything, and although I love it like a favorite blanket, I know that it is all the better for this time of year right now.  For hot sun and dry ground and ripe tomatoes.

The tomato harvest in our wild, sprawling tomato patch is like a treasure hunt.  An eye spy game of finding the red hidden within all of the greens and browns and goldens of the tomato plants and the weeds.  I watch the tomatoes pile up in the path as I make my way through the rows, my loot.  The feeling of so much.  I am filled.  While I bake in the sun to gather these stars of the summer, I think about how later that night I will take all of the not-pretty-enough-for-market fruits inside and commence the never-ending pot of tomato sauce cooking on the stove-top season.  I imagine the wonderful aroma that will fill our home, and the wonderful flavor that will fill our bellies, later, when this sun is long gone.

I fight off the longing for fall.  All of the ways that I can.  I know well enough by now that love for any one thing is brightened in its contrast.  To cool off, after all that work, we will pull some popsicles out of the freezer.  We sit on our porch facing west and linger.  My children, too, grow like the tomatoes and I can’t slow it down nor speed it up so I try to take it all in.  The hot sun and dry ground and ripe tomatoes.  The sunshine and lollipops and lots of tomato sauce.

mindfulness, summer, popsicles, children, parentingmindfulness, summer, popsicles, parenting, childrenmindfulness, summer, popsicles, parenting, children