burn to shine

Because truly the world is burning right now, and we are all standing in the fire. I choose now to soften all the way, to bare myself, open wide, and write it all down to make sure we know it is okay. That we are okay. More than okay, we are divine. We will always rise from the ashes.

 may day, new beginnings

It is nearly summer solstice. We, our family, here on this farm, are traveling through this season without farming for an income any longer. We are traveling around the circle of the seasons and so much is the same while so much is different.The intense push, hard in all the ways, that last season gave us to finally let that business go, that one-time dream, one-time call, has settled. The egos have survived, even when they thought they might not. Letting go has usually been something I feel I do so gracefully. But this was hard. Really hard.

Mostly because we always think we have to be something. We were farmers. We were farmers for our community. It was a big part of the way we moved inside our space. It had been our life for eight years. Our plan for more like thirteen years. And I like change. I embrace change. I daydream about change. But this threw me to the wolves. I couldn’t see clearly. I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure after so long holding sure like a hostage in my tightening chest and it was frightening. I somehow thought our world was going to crumble. That things were breaking.

And yet, that isn’t all the way true. What I really knew, so very deeply, was that our world was going to expand. That breaking it was necessary to enlarge it. That we needed so desperately to move on. And, goodness, the world has grown and we keep growing and our farm is still here and we are still here. Growing food for our family, spreading compost out all over our beaten hearts and healing some of the parts of life that had, like much of our farm, been neglected and overgrown.

The story is so cliche it kills me.

Farming.

It is such good honest work. It means something know matter what. And it is also so fucking hard. The money is too thin and too bare even though you are putting your heart and soul into that dirt. The awareness of the true cost, the labor, that all food is born of, is mostly lost to really all of us, even my silly farm kids living this life. There is so much to write about this. How to make the small-scale sustainable farm sustainable, for the farmers? Nourishing and not depleting, for the farmers? So many pieces still to puzzle out in this movement. I have essays going and so much to say and so much I still want to discover about something I truly believed in and hate feeling jaded about.

But here we are in June. And after all that revolutioning, inside and out, we are basking for now in the glory. The glory of a new path. Writing about farming and gardening for my family, I can still do this. I can tell the stories that are mine to tell in the hopes that we all keep moving forward. Not just the small farm and farmer, but us, the people, connected here on earth through the clay that clings to our skin and through time and space by the crying or bubbling of the stars inside us. The threads woven by words told true and with an open heart have a power of their own. They create a net that can hold us all on this journey into a new world.

Because truly the world is burning right now, and we are all standing in the fire. I choose now to soften all the way, to bare myself, open wide, and write it all down to make sure we know it will be okay. It can be uncomfortable. It should be uncomfortable. But it can be okay. We are okay. More than okay, we are divine. We will always rise from the ashes.

Burned. Grown back. It happens, and we can fight it or find our selves more truly and lovingly inside the flames.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Let’s burn to shine.

Together.

may day,new beginnings

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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.

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.

this rewarding life

tomato planting, farming, family, csa

sunset, farm, csa, farming

The smell of tomato as we began to plant this year’s crop was strong,  reminding me of that one and only singular taste of summer to come.  Salivating, taking in the sun and the beauty of this after dinner hour, it was a very easy job to get started on.  My oldest son was helping–some–but more than physical help, he was definitely good company.  It was all bliss and joy for a while.

But because it is good to be honest and because it is the truth, 300 plants in and only a third of the way done, in need of water and upset with myself for not being able to plant in a straight line without a string (which I did not bring down to the field with me), I was exasperated, despite all the lovely around me.

So, I stopped for the night and just let the sunset wash away the day as it so brilliantly does, knowing that piece by piece is how any good job gets done anyways.  We would start again tomorrow.

sunset, farm, field, farming

sunset, farm, field, farming

Which we didn’t.  That tomorrow was yesterday and early on in the day found me injured beyond simple repair.  A funky back tweak and I was laying in bed for most of the day.

Tonight, the farmer is in town at a banquet being held to recognize distinguished community members, of which, he was named outstanding young farmer.  We were named together, but really, he is the farmer and I am merely the paid help and fancy PR rep.  And even though we are both a bit cynical at times and feel neither young any more, nor all that outstanding as farmers (aside from the fact that we are still here and haven’t (and won’t) give up despite all the challenges), we were deeply thankful for such an honor.

And, I was really looking forward to a night of recognizing the many other wonderful folks in our community, growing and strengthening connections new and old and all that, in addition to receiving our own accolades.

But instead, I am home still dealing with this intense back pain/injury that I shouldn’t even have, hobbling around the house not planting the rest of the tomatoes, or attending this lovely banquet.  And two kids have sore throats, coughs, and mild fevers.  What!!

The timing kind of surprises me.  I tend to expect the best, and things tend to work out favorably for us–knock on wood–but whatever, right?

The thing about life is that we don’t get anywhere overnight.  Or in one night.  The tomato planting is a big one, the road to our farming award seven years long, and I am trying to do it all for the farmer while he keeps up with two businesses through the busy planting season for the first time ever.  Slow and steady and all that good stuff really does apply.

And, this man, who has been amazing, doing practically all the farming for most of our seven years out here, really is the one who deserves to be out tonight, getting some attention.  Because the truth is that he could really care less, in the very best possible sense of this expression.  He does little in his life for acknowledgement from the outside world, a trait I truly admire in him.  So, in my book, he doubly deserves this.

Meanwhile, the other night as my son and I sat by those trays of un-planted tomatoes and watched the sun set–and the sunsets on our farm are truly breathtaking–I didn’t think for a second I wouldn’t be out there finishing the job the next day, but that is how it ended up.  Another lesson in letting go, I suppose.  They are all around me.

But even sore to the bone and so very ready to feel better, we get to do the same thing again tonight.  Being here, witness to such beauty every night is its own reward too.  And such rewards can go a long way to keep us up and at them when we might rather crawl into bed.  My goal is to finish that planting job sometime this week.  My back should play along (with the help of some acupuncture I hope!).

And my sweet husband, who works as hard as all the other outstandingly hard working farmers out there, can work just as hard but without too much worry about not getting it all done, because we now know that if we just take each day (and setting sun) as it comes, piece by piece, it all adds up to a lifetime of accomplishment.  Learning that lesson is perhaps one of the best rewards of these last long, hard, wonderful years.

Because life will be full of rewards, some big, some small, but not always in the way we imagined.  And the most important thing to hold onto is that life itself is really the biggest one of them all.  But we have to show up every day to really get that.  And sometimes for years on end, we might need to just keep at that one thing, over and over again, showing up.  Simply paying attention and working hard and loving life for the glory of nothing at all.

Perhaps, for nothing at all, but the mere but spectacular glory of one more day to watch the sun explode in color as it nestles into the hills of the horizon.

Oh, these celebrations!

Last week was…

  • writing some words for this sight
  • Halloween-ing with a cute little kitten who wondered slowly through the night, finding the highly decorated houses the most interesting thing of all (aside from the special piece of fair-trade-organic dark chocolate that turned him into a cute and tired zombie).
  • Also Halloween-ing with the spunkiest, sweetest, camera happy witch ever, and her great protector, Captain America.  All the while being slightly freaked out by the first “creepy” costume for our family, the inspiration for which was “creepy doll”, but which  morphed into a banshee-type, blood splattered bat wielding creature of some kind.  Yikes!
  • Loving the farmer dressed up in fairy wings and a dragon’s tail, the cutest dragonfly ever; and loving that all night he was a little freaked out by my hardcore 80’s punk rock get up.  FUN!
  • And amidst that fun, lots of rationalizing Halloween as best as I could by focusing on the many positive aspects of shared human celebrations.  Still, I spent Halloween night secretly happy that it seemed like less people overall were handing out candy.
  • Relishing the tradition we now have of celebrating, right after the more dark and trivial fun of Halloween,  the festive and light el Dia de los Muertos.  This year, we added to the alter of my folks, the farmer’s grandma.  I love sharing this day with the kids, who did not know any of these very important people well, but get to hear stories about them and spend a day or two with pictures of them front and center.  It brings them, and our connections to this life through them, fully to our attentions for that time in such a meaningful way, all while lightening the weight of death for us all.
  • Wrapping up all that celebrating with a somewhat clean house and a trip to the woods.  Good!

As flowers die and leaves fall, we can see a semi-state of morbidity around us.  But just as easily, we can turn our eye to the beauty inherent in this design.  Celebrating.  That is what we do as the earth dies before our eyes, as we confront our own and our loved ones mortality.

The raucous week of Samhain has moved us into the gracious month of giving thanks.  Gratitude is best applied as a way of life, but we can all find a little more room for it in our hearts this month. In the Gaelic tradition, we have moved into winter.  It is still quite a bit like autumn here, and that is wonderful.  But the winter is a time of sharing this human experience–and the fears and wonders that it encompasses–with each other through the most love filled celebrations of the year.

Happy November!