springing (time to wake up)

violets, spring, farm, The farm has moved into March gracefully, with so many beautiful signs pointing to the shifting seasons. The first flowers are blooming–the always cheery and bright and abundant daffodils, the lovely forsynthia opening its own yellow petals one by one, and the violets, with a sweetness we can nibble. The air is full of breeze, and sound. Like the birds singing so happy to find food more easily, and the frogs, awakening.

strawberry, spring, plant, greenhouse, farm, farmingsalad mix, baby lettuce, spring, greenhouse, farm, farmingbraising mix, greenhouse, farm, farming, springgreen onions, farm, farming, greenhouse, spring, seasonal eatingA walk through our greenhouse these days, literally so green right now, provides a wonderful respite from the sight of the fields, still only slowly coming back to life, muddy and waiting. And an equally wonderful respite for our tongues. Fresh food, again. Our taste buds, singing too, we aren’t really that different from the birds.

And the earth calls, wake up. Wake Up!

And, I answer, I always answer, yes.

whether the weather

farming, patience, almost springThe snow here has given way to rain, rain that has been strikingly absent for us during this dry and crisp winter. And this morning, as those drops fall heavy on the house in a strong, beating rhythm that awakened us to our day, as I sit here with my coffee and listen to the the sound of water tapping metal, steady and sure, I notice the comfort it brings, the relief. Coming to this valley, lush, green, and moist, I didn’t know whether I would be one to hate the rainy season or not. Would I fall prey to despair, saddened by so much grey? Or was it really that bad?  How wet was it? Were these just exaggerations, weather tales lengthened by the human imagination, tricks of the mind, the way we seem to never recall weather accurately?

I’m not sure what the truth about the weather here is, nor if there really is ever any truth to the weather, but I do know that a lot of people come out here and feel like they are home, and that I am one of them. The grey, monotonous sky offered itself to me in a warm embrace. The fog laying on the hills, the Douglas fir rising predictably from the hilltops, it all said yes to me.

And although I know place isn’t the beginning or end of our happiness, it feels good to feel at home in your landscape.

All the early plantings we sneaked in the ground in January did not weather this last bit of weather so well. As my husband says, though, seed is cheap. We will replant.

I keep thinking about the home I left behind me in Nebraska. I am surprised at the very visceral feeling of discomfort the thought of frozen ground gives me. Maybe I am not all that strong after all, abating melancholy in such a dreary place, if I feel stricken down, now, at the thought of not always being able to touch the earth, feel the dirt,  I realize that I have become dependent on the land. To feed me, even now, in what is for us a harsh winter. I am under-evolved, slave to the soil, the life that doesn’t stop living itself out here.

Part plant myself, perhaps. I can’t remember how I survived anywhere else.

But we do, and we can, anywhere.  What people don’t always realize about all this rainy weather out here, unless they work outside or with the natural elements, is just how often the sun still does come out. But it catches me, often at sundown on many a wet, winter’s day. As if to say, it will never be all this way or all that way; it will, however, always be okay.

Or, rather, that it will always be.  And that, itself, is good enough for us all.

farming, pacific NW, Oregon, sun, rain, weather, mindfulness

learning to play in the snow

snow, farm, winter, funThe snow started falling Thursday.  Just the sight of it in the sky is pretty exciting around these parts since it doesn’t happen that often, but that it was slowly starting to stick to the ground, that the forecast predicted accumulation, this was big news.  So, we sent the papa to the store early, before the roads turned for the worse, and then we settled in, expecting at least one special snow day.  What we got instead was four of them, along with nearly a foot of perfect, fluffy snow.

It was amazing.

And so much fun.

snow fun, snow play, the importance of play, snow daysnow play, learnig to play, snow funsnow fun, play, the importance of play, snow funWith the landscape transformed, and everything on hold, we took to imagining we were in a cabin in the mountains.  We made the event into a little vacation and it has been just as relaxing and invigorating and awesome as a real get away.  It helped that at this time of the year we don’t have our weekend markets to get to, or pressing work, no major missed obligations.  Letting go of the “normal” and embracing the surprising, turning the worry into wonder, receiving this weather as a gift, it wasn’t too hard, which ended up making it such a blessing in so many ways.

tractor, snow, farm, winterIn all the busy that is life, the day to day to day, it can be so hard to really nourish ourselves, to fill up our tanks, keep the holy light within us burning bright.  I often think that I do a fine job of this with all the quiet moments with my thoughts I cultivate, the breathing, the stretching, the meditations, the time in nature, and so much reflecting; but there is a flip side to that type of practice that is important too, one I tend to shy away from.  You see, my first instinct upon trekking out into the snow is to marvel at the beauty, the stillness. I watch, carefully, the birds that appear alone in the landscape, drinking from the warm water that runs out of our kitchen into the field, checking old, dead sunflower heads for any remaining seed.  I listen and think how on a regular day even the small amount of traffic on our country road is noisy compared to this deep silence.  I bring along the camera, I notice the white, the red, the blue, the color the snow adds to the landscape in winter when things are all brown and grey, such a surprise.  I enjoy myself in these activities, immensely.

My children, on the other hand, immediately started to play, hard.

And although I consider the things I enjoy to be play for me, it wasn’t until the second day into our snowy-ness that I agreed, mostly to appease the children and their father, to get on the snow gear too, to ride the snow board, to sled down the hill.  And although I thought one time down I would have done my duty, I realized instead (of course!) that this was too much fun to be done with.  And as I warmed up from the up and down of it, the motion and moving, each swoosh of it all, I tapped into a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while.  I felt young.

In the middle of gliding down our powdery hill, going up over the small little jump the kids had made and landing, usually, in a tumble of giggles and yahoos in the snow, I realized that there is a fine line between accepting yourself for who you are, and loving that and being okay with that and doing your own thing and not trying to do all the things, between that and remaining stagnant and forgetting to be inquisitive and not trying new things. Between that and not remaining playful.  

Another fine lesson in balance it was, which seems to be life’s running theme.  Not black, not white, it keeps saying. Not stillness, nor flurry. Not just the in breath, not just the out.   The lesson, for me, was this–it is good for you to find things not just breathtaking, but breathmaking.  Check, I get it.

And I think my kids enjoyed what they saw as a different side of me.  A little lighter, a little louder.  A lot more than I was that morning.

snow, farm, snow day, funfarm, snow, snow days, funsnow, fun, snow day, farm, wintersnow, fun, farm, snow daysnow, children, fun, snow day, farmI am certain this is something I need to explore more this year, and the many more to come.  It seems like just the kind of thing to do when one is nearing forty.  Probably as good as all that loving and learning and accepting of me as the wonderful person I am was in my thirties, a (near) decade that I loved.  As I did my twenties, with all that questioning of all the things.  I want them all to be good because they all are.

Life is a magnificent journey, never stagnant, so I can not be either.

for the year of the horse (a poem)

chinese new year, oal oak tree, setting intentions, new moon, poetryOn This Chinese New Year’s Eve

I cut my hair.

I wanted to enter
the wooden horse of this new year
re-framed, re-styled, ready for anything.

Because this year, I want, fiercely, many things.

Like your legs intertwined with mine
in the motion of waves
all the time
as if there is no time.

And the kind of success
measured in limitlessness.

I will hang the red banner.
Spill the blood of so many oranges
or lap the juices with my tongue, at least,
let it dribble down my chin in fervent prayer.

Because this year, I want to enter like a Trojan horse.

For better or worse,
things must happen
and we must make them.

this moment is mine

soil, love, farming, planting, weather, small farmI don’t regularly reserve this space for straight up farming posts very often any more, but, this!  When the weather turns warm and sunny and unseasonably dry in January, dry enough to plant a little patch of ground, to smell decomposing earth, to softly crumble in your hands, then yes, farming it is.

And yet this post is not just about getting a nice little peak back into the living, breathing land again, ready to grow for us some more, it is really about this constant I keep coming back to as I relish the days this week.  That there is never just a give, or ever just a take.  This December, we had an unseasonably cold stretch of days with near constant below freezing temperatures that turned our fields, usually winter hardy here, to mush.  The more tender Asian greens, the chard, the spicy arugula, all died back to the ground.  The only things left standing were the kale, ever our hero, and the collards, kale’s just as lovely cousin.  Alive, yes, but with some frost damage.  Alive, yes, but with only enough good leaves to harvest from gingerly.  It has been, in many ways, a hungry month since then.

So, when mother nature turns around and gives us extra-dry, extra-sun, and we get to make up for loss with some extra planting to cover the difference, we take it.  And even though it is easy to think of this all as give, I remember the take.  Even this could just as easily become that.  We are certainly taking a bit of a gamble.  These crops could end up not making it (though I think they will).

And even though I try not to think about it, even this missing precipitation, I know, it isn’t all good, even if it is momentarily good, for us.  Is there ever a moment in time that is just right?

Or are they all perfectly not?

Watching my husband in the field, moving barrow full of compost with my children in tow like a hen with her chicks, the sun streaming into my heart and the worms wiggling in the baby-boy’s hand, I press the moments into my mind, snap shot, snap shot, snap shot, this is good.  I think about the next moment in time, for just a second, then stop myself, because I know I’m not guaranteed it.

But this one, it is mine.

farmer, farming, planting, sunshine, love