thanksgiving gold

thankful, thanksgiving, farm, farm life, gratitude, simple lifem life, gratitude, simple lifem life, gratitude, simple lifem life, gratitude, simple life

“There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” –Leonard Cohen

Today, the farm is quiet.  It is clear, frosty, and golden out there.  Inside, the fire is kindled, the coffee made.  It will be a slow day.  Tonight, we will have a small feast with the grandfolks.  Simple.  Wonderful.

I love Thanksgiving a whole lot.  I love that it is on the eve of advent, of deep winter.  That we are done with harvest for a bit, that I can wish for snow and not worry about trying to gather vegetables from under it.  That magic fills the cold air.  But more than anything, I love it because I love giving thanks.  Whenever I slip into meditation or deep relaxation in a yoga class, this is the feeling that floods my veins.  I am so damn grateful, for it all.

All the wonderful, obvious things, sure.

But perhaps even stronger still is the gratitude for the rest of it.  All my mistakes–and there are plenty.  All the hard times–and there are plenty of these too.  Every good and bad part, mixed together into the story of this life.  For all of that, I am thankful.

I haven’t always felt this way.  Most of us, probably, start our journey into adulthood with some notion of a happily ever after that is all “good”.  But one of the blessings, in my mind, of growing older is the hazy way the good and bad start to blur into a deep, vibrant hue that is all its own and that is far richer and more complex than any of our youthful black and whites.  Everything begins to shine golden, not just the sparkly parts.

And since I’ve been at this for a while now, and because it is now my second nature, I come to this day easily, gracefully.  I like that.  But I get that it isn’t like that for all of us all the time, so please forgive my gushing, I am sure it can be annoying at times.  Because the truth is this, it is all a mess, for all of us, I just happen to think that it is a beautiful mess.

But, it did take time.  Honesty.  Forgiveness, of all kinds.  Open eyes.  An open heart.  Trust me, with these, the thankfulness will come.

But for me, now, this is my practice, my breath, each day.  And so, each year, on this day, I find myself with lots to write about.  Just for fun, this year, I rounded them all up–2008, 2009, 2010, 2011(1, 2, 3), 2012 (1,2,3).  If you look through them, you will see that there is both a progression and a sameness.  So is life.

Today, my list is short and sweet.  I also find that the tiniest element of humor is there, which for my serious, somber self is a good sign.  I think that as I get older, in this regard, I am getting younger.  And lightening is nice.

So 2013! Let’s get something down, for the record!

Right now, I am thankful for:

  • time to write, whenever and whatever, even on Thanksgiving morning!
  • phone cameras, instagram filters, and an easy, quick way to satisfy the creative impulse in my busy farmer-mama days
  • three year olds, for perspective (and for keeping me humble)
  • the smell of three year old nurslings, like the pheromones of a man, which have been shown to calm and bring a sense of well being to a woman when she is held, putting my nose to my son’s head and holding him in my arms still regulates my nervous system instantly, just like when he was a babe–I think this is related to the circularly perfect nursing relationship.  So, whenever I get a little worked up, all I have to do is pick up this boy and inhale.
  • acorn squash–a seriously fine replacement for former fave, delicata squash
  • the always forgiving and in love man that is my husband
  • AjjA Wood, taking off beyond our dreams
  • all of the members of our farm family for their continued support and participation in our farming and eating adventure
  • good food–that feeds my body and my soul and keeps my family healthy–from our land and the land of our neighbors and this valley, a veritable garden of eden
  • the most perfect growing season on (our) record–I am more than imaginably thankful for this one (farmers live and die by the weather)
  • three “big” kids–this one is bittersweet, but it is also a lot of fun to see these sweet little ones grow up, and it makes having just one “little” one seem so stinking easy!
  • a home, we owe a lot of this to the grandfolks, and I hope they know how thankful we are for that
  • plant medicine and learning new things
  • McMinnville Community Accupunture, for taking care of me when I don’t take care of myself, and always working miracles
  • deepening friendships and creative collaboration
  • my brave brother whom I am missing a lot today
  • the golden, frosty, dry weather we are having, the kind of weather that reminds of November back home in Nebraska, reminds me of Thanksgivings from my past, and mingles my loves for these two places in the sweetest way this holiday
  • you, all of you, humans, reading this or not, I am thankful to share my world with you and all of your golden human-ness

And now, it is time for a mimosa with my love, the cook today, and some games with the kids by the fire.  Bliss!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!



Woodworking on the farm

This was the table we enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner on this year.  It replaced the first table the farmer built, exactly two Thanksgivings ago.  And while I loved (loved, loved, loved) that other table, my new one is really a thing of beauty.  Crafted not just by the farmer, but primarily by his new business partner and our dear, dear friend, not to mention the boys, who helped sand it and sand it so that it would be ready for our feast, it was truly a gift to be thankful for this year.

The level of craftsmanship has definitely improved here on the farm, and the love of that work, the wood working, has grown too.  So much so that these two men have officially, officially created a business.  AjjA Woodworkers.  They are making some wonderful things out in that farm shop.  We are still busy getting everything in order, but the website is up, and there will be a way to order online soon via both the site and and etsy.  For this year’s holidays, we can be contacted and will happily set something up.  Otherwise, this wood will mostly be making the local’s season bright.

luca's table

luca's table 2

And just like the oldest boy is getting interested in what I am doing and trying it out, our Luca is expanding his woodworking skills right alongside his papa.  He has always been more inclined to work with his hands and his body–in the field with his papa, or with some yarn and knitting needles, and most often, in the shop with some wood.  He made this table for me.  I knew he was working on it, and I knew he was having a hard time getting those legs figured out, and I think he may have gotten close to quitting a few times, but he did it!  And then, he was too excited to wait until Christmas to gift me with it, so he asked me if he could give it to me early.  I love it so much.  And it fits right in the space beside my bed.

I sure do love this overflowing.  The trying on of various creative means by our kids.  I know that when we do it, we stretch and grow, so I hope it helps them do the same.

As for my first table, that is where it has landed, in the sewing/painting room, ready for some holiday crafting.  Even though it stretches me sometimes, I can’t help but make at least something for everyone on my Christmas list.  I am sure that the next few weeks will be busy, but all around my home I have these handcrafted beauties to inspire  me.

my first table

my first table 2

let's get crafty

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! 

On Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you.


And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

                                                                             -Khalil Gibran

Searching and finding. I’m grateful for the trees.

Last week, we headed up to the hills to search out some chantrelle mushrooms.  We found a small handful, nothing to write home about like in other years, but the colors of the woods and the beautiful weather that day, so nice!

Even though we are a group that gets out of doors plenty, we don’t really get out into the woods nearly as often as we would like.  That dreaded word–busy–seems to so often trump most days.  But not as many days at this time of the year, and learning that balance just won’t look the same in the thick of summer as it does in the fall and winter is a good lesson.  Seeing the whole cycle, I see that there is a balance to that busy, and that is good.

But, as great as getting outside is in general, the power of the forest is still its own magical thing.

Depending on their age, the kids “feel” different things when we first get into it.  Sometimes they enter with the general happy to be out in nature attitude of the very small, or with the wild to be in the wild feeling of the older and rambunctious young boy; but sometimes, for certain among them, they have this period where they enter with a feeling of intimidation, the smallest traces of fear.  It can take a lot of breathing for those small ones to really let go and get into the better parts of the forest then.  And it can take a lot of patience from the grown ups who came along, who just know there are no monsters lurking out there behind the trees but also know that it is unkind to be flippant about such real and powerful feelings.

Besides, maybe we remember a little of that feeling ourselves. The forest is mysterious, alive.  It can be an unsettling place.  Familiar but so unfamiliar.

But even when we have a child or two in that phase, we eventually all are able to connect with that wild place.  We do all get to the point where we don’t ever want to leave.

On this visit, the boys were begging us to leave them for the week!  Have you ever felt that way?  Oh, I do!  I spent as much time as I could manage making little homes out of the forests of this country as I travelled in the summers of my college days.  I remember so many times wishing I could just stay out there where everything seemed undeniably True.

Any searching you take with you, the woods  seem to quiet and calm.  You find things.  Small things–textures, colors, sounds–and big things–poetry, peace, reverence.  The pace is slow, you inevitably relax.

We didn’t find very many mushrooms this time.  But we always find something.

And since I mentioned that this is the month for paying attention to those things we are grateful for, I should say that I am so very grateful for the proximity of the woods to us, our quick and easy access to them, and all of our minutes there.

Growing up in rural Nebraska, roaming rolling pasture at will when I was just a sprite, walking barefoot just five minutes to the banks of a gentle river where I spent hours upon hours working out the pesky details of growing up, and then spending one year in a city where I learned pretty quickly I did not belong, I have never had to go very long without recharging in nature.  I have never experienced the newly coined nature-deficit disorder.  In so many ways, it is hard for me to imagine the lives where this is possible.

But I am also acutely aware that my experience is limited.  And even though my presumption each time I visited a city was that each one was essentially the same and essentially not for me, I have spent some time in them.  The farmer himself is from southern California.  I see how cement can cover most things and how city parks can only go so far to undo that.

And so, since it is for me to need the forest, I am very thankful to have it.  I am actually  quite thankful to have not only the forest, but the mountains, and the ocean, and some wonderful rivers close by too.  Surrounding our lovely farm valley, welcoming my need to still my soul in their presence.

And just close enough, we have a pretty wonderful city to visit so that I can always gain some perspective once in a while.

How often do we get to remember that we may just have everything we need, right outside the door.