about (to bloom) the movement of grace

spring, blossoms, blooming, spring, blossoms, bloomingI took these pictures a few days ago. Already, these pink balls that dotted the limbs of this ornamental plum tree have opened, transforming in just a few days this image that caught me, the about-ness of it all so perfect and true.

Last week, we started back up with our farm harvests, started back at our farmer’s market. I waited until the very last minute to wrap my head around the changing schedule, our winter way so nice and restorative this year, but once I turned on the music in the wash station, cleaned and organized everything out there, started washing and weighing and gathering the produce together for our farm members and market customers, it all felt right. Saturday morning at the market, with all the fine people to see, the camaraderie, the community, and us a part of it, it fit back on like a glove.

spring, farming, community, farmer's market, graceprovidence, grace, loveSome friends and I have been having an ongoing discussion about the evolution of our understandings of the world and our spiritual place in it. About how learning to let go of the idea of keeping it all together ourselves, of the image of a perfect us or a perfect life, of the notion that we are in full control of this ship, how in this process of letting go and in finding the moment, we are finding more peace, more happiness, more power to implement real change, real transformations, and more love for life as it is, messy and beautiful and sad and wonderful all at the same time. Contrary to logic, somehow giving over power has this way of creating something really powerful.

One friend likened this to the idea of Grace, and I remembered back to when I was studying philosophy and literature in my college days. I read a lot of Christian writers, and I had an affinity for the beautiful way G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis understood their faith, so different from how I perceived it as a child, deathly afraid of the dark, already burning in the fire that is spiritual fear. That, for me, was no way to connect to the Eternal, so although I didn’t return to church, I did begin to appreciate the concept of Grace. I did begin to see that it was working in my life, that it always had been. Now, I am more apt to connect with this feeling during meditation, when always, the first sensation I notice is overwhelming gratitude, for all the things in my life, not just the good. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve known keenly it was where I was supposed to be. If I paid attention. I always saw signs telling me that I was on the right path, always books came to me that I needed, always lessons that I needed when I might have lost track of my way, when I might have lost sight of the why of it all.

Always, moments of surety.

Like yes, on Saturday, when we returned to market farming for another season. Like yes, today, and every day, that I get on here to type.

Like a few days ago, on just another Sunday afternoon, while my children took the raft out into the flooded field and splashed in the mud and enjoyed their childhood and my husband wrapped me in his arms as said, “I love my life with you.”

Yes.

I couldn’t see it when I was growing up, my father was a No kind of person, but still this morning I listen to the music he handed down to me and because I am a Yes kind of person, I cry and wish for this perfectly imperfect man to still be walking the earth so I could share a cup of coffee with him and talk, like we always did, about how to be good and make the world right for everyone.

Sometimes I wonder why I should be so blessed, why I should feel that my life has meaning. The short answer is that I shouldn’t. None of us and all of us deserve everything and nothing at all. I haven’t had it easy, by any means, but I do have it great right now. And that is enough. Tomorrow is another day, and I can’t predict what is to come. I can’t make the good times stay. And that is okay, too.

The truth is, I have no answers, and I realize that I never have, only glimpses and movement, ideas that fit as my life continues on through its days. Perhaps the Truth, which I have always sought, isn’t something to be found. Maybe there are no answers to any of these larger than life questions, but I can’t stop asking them, and maybe that is enough for me to always find myself right where I am supposed to be, in both hard or soft times.

Right now, I find myself like the balls on this tree, ready to bloom into spring, then summer. The hard working, fast moving season on the farm. My body rejoices to be under the sun, in the dirt, eating fresh food. There are times in our lives that we can’t appreciate until we are well through them, the layers of meaning fully integrated, but this season isn’t like that at all, it is all feel-it-as-it-happens. Being right here, right now, that is my focus. I am sure I will have things to look back on that mean more to me in the future than they do now, but I am also trying my hardest to make all the meaning in the moment, too. And this one thing I do know to be true, I love my life, too. Graciously. That is one thing I can and will always try to do. Perhaps that is the thing that has made all the difference.

spring, farming, community, grace, blooming

august setting: seasons on the farm

sunset, queen anne's lace, farm, farming, seasons, august “These are our few live seasons. Let us live them as purely as we can, in the present.” Annie Dillard.

A reader left this quote in the comments the last time I managed to squeeze a little time out of the day to write over here.  Annie Dillard is one of my all time favorites, and this, this was just right.  For all of our breathing moments, for sure.  But as a reminder to breathe, too.

I’ve been thinking a lot this summer about seasons.  About how much they dictate life on the farm, and about how disconnected they sometimes are from the reality of modern life.

Lazy summer days.

Not quite.  Definitely not on the farm.

Summer is the busiest of all the times.  We take breaks, here and there, as we can, but the longer than long days are filled to the brim with work.  Sun up to sun down.  Five to nine, as another farmer splendidly put it.  We squeeze in as much as our minds and bodies can manage, and as the children allow without reminding us that working in the dirt is not exactly play for them…even though it is for us.  Thankfully.

They remind us that time with friends and dips in the river are necessary parts of summer too.  As well as whole days away from the beating rhythm of the farm, at the beach or in the mountains next to a sweet, quiet lake.  We really do want it all, so we try for as much as we can.  But the truth is, we can’t fully live in two worlds, so we mostly live and breathe farming in the summer, and I often feel this crashing together of two different ways of life throughout this season that for most people signals play, but for us signals work as play.

But even more than this disjointed idea of a “summer off” that we are, by trade, removed from, the end of summer-back to school time of year feels even more disconnected from what is happening in our lives on the farm than ever.  It arrives at the time when the farm is coming to full fruition for the year, and our work, though growing shorter with the shorter days, keeps up at its summer pace, if not becomes more busy.  We don’t really quiet down out here until we are through September.

Oh, September!  The most abundant month of the year.

Even though preparing ground and sowing seeds and planting transplants is busy in the spring, and a constant job up until just now, even with it done for the year, our work load is still heavy.  Weeding won’t end until the rain comes in earnest.  And harvesting is huge right now as summer crops ripen daily.   We need more time for keeping up with that, as well as more time for selling this massive abundance of our wonderful produce, not to mention more time for preserving as much as we can for our family while this abundance is here.  We are still so busy.

But the schedule around us begins to change.  School starts, different bedtimes are in order, different daytimes too.  People seem to temporarily forget that our mid-week farmer’s market is still going on even though it is not, by their books, summer any more, and we always kind of languish a bit in our shoes, standing at our booth with the most produce of the entire year and moderately slow market traffic.

Disjointed.

The life that we lead has to be flexible and malleable in response to the natural world.  It expands, then contracts.  It is tempered to the reins of the physical seasons .  It keeps a steady beat, it keeps a yearly rhythm, but it changes vastly throughout the year, and is in no way arbitrary nor under our control.  This isn’t really how the modern, non-agricultural world keeps time.  Most of the year, for most of the folks, schedules can be kept at almost the same day to day rhythm for the entire year, with only the wild and crazy mix up of Christmas and a short “summer” to temporarily detour them from that order.

It is much different for us, and I admit, I sometimes find it hard to bend our lives to fit into the schedule of the rest of our world.  A friend and CSA member, who catalogues Medieval manuscripts, wrote to me, “The prayer books begin with a calendar, and the illuminations include a “labor of the month” for each month of the year. Summer through autumn shows farmers working in the field, cutting hay, tending crops, harvesting and crushing grapes. In December, the labor is killing the boar for the Christmas feast. In January (and sometimes Feb as well) the “labor” consists of sitting by a fire! Your schedule is far more in tune with human history and the seasons than the summer vacation that resulted from industrialization.”

And there is peace to be found, for me, in her comment.  I know we have chosen a way of life that is more like lives lived in the past and that feels good deep in our ancestral bones.  But more than that, I really do believe that what we do out here on the farm is paving the way for the future.  It feels as visionary as it is a hearkening back.  It is the straddling, in the present, that is the challenge.

The next eight weeks or so will only be more hectic and crazy than the rest of our already wildly busy, summer farming season because I have to divide my attention between our own summer farm schedule and the coming sooner than the farm’s “fall” schedule of our lives.  The thought of it makes me feel a little weak in the knees.

But, I am alive.  I can still breathe.  It will be, and always is, okay.  I love this time of year when the harvest is so amazingly full, it only makes sense that the schedule mirror that abundance and become fuller, as impossible as that seems.  The sheer putting forth of fruit from the earth at this time of year seems impossible too, but to be able to give so much in such a compressed amount of time is as simple as breathing for the earth.  I am sure I can do as much too.

Because after all of that fullness and hard-working and time squeezing, we do fall, naturally, into a very quiet time out here on the farm.  We do come to a point in the year where we have plenty of time.  We relish sitting, sitting made better because it is by the fire.  And for about two months, January and February, tending the fire day and night really is almost all of the work of the day.  Not entirely, of course.  We do have work to do year round, but for a stretch of time, in the deep of winter, we are, nearly, still.

Our schedule, although it isn’t always in step with the rest of the world, has become, for us, familiar.  I don’t fight it any more with trying to mix other people’s realities into ours.  It is comforting in its own steady and predictable way, even if I don’t have help at bedtime with my four children, whose bedtimes are near sundown in the summer, nor do we have a whole day off as a family aside from the couple of camping trips we do make time for in a summer.  We do have a lot of down time together in the winter, a lot of time to catch up on sleep and rest.

We do have lazy, winter days.

This circular rhythm, we have come to know it and love it.

It is marked by the plants growing outside and the hours of the sunrise and sunset.  The temperature.  August begins with blackberry feasts in the morning and after dinner, and ends with Queen Anne’s Lace all around, catching the last rays of the setting summer.  We won’t be tucking ourselves into autumn until the equinox.  Or even a few weeks after that since our “summer” market season continues into mid-October.  Into pumpkins and winter squash.  Then, we will rest, as a farm, and the school mom shoes will not feel too tight slipped over my field shoes and my fingers, happy for the dirt under them, will likely find more time to get inky–metaphorically speaking.

For now, I hold on to an imaginary handle bar.  The end of the roller coaster ride of the busy farm season is the wildest, and so we will aim to make it the most fun and sweet and lively too.  I’ll somehow aim to embrace the two worlds we live in by choosing this way of life, the past and the present.  And truthfully, it is three worlds to embrace, to breathe in simultaneously with each breath, everyday, because through this all I am holding the small hands of the future in mine, as well.

summer, i give you, my all and more (an invite for you to give some too)

summer, local food, farming, Hello and hello.

It has been longer than long, it feels, since I have been able to get to this space.  I have been a bit in the weeds, quite literally, but also metaphorically.  Sorting and cleaning the mind while I work outside is almost as good as sorting and cleaning it out at the keyboard.  Much like the sun, which reached its zenith last week, heralding us into summer, our own scales have tipped, dropping us smack dab into the wild side of our year.

Summer.

It is loud.  It is busy.  It is fuller than full, and that is why I love it so.  Me–and all this food growing out here–we’re exploding like crazy from our roots up, up, up towards the sky.  It is hectic, and I may feel like it is altogether too much.  But instead of that, after bursting wide open, I know, I remember, that I will get to fall gently back into the warm blanket of the earth come autumn, that I will get to wrap myself up again come winter with all the hints of the seeds of next year tucked safely in my womb.  I breathe and keep going.

Summer.  It’s so, so good.  Welcome.

And quickly, before I sign off to go back outside with the setting sun to finish washing some of tomorrow’s market veggies (beets! carrots! chard! kale! broccoli! new potatoes! basil! salad mix! lettuce heads! fava beans!) and ready the fruit (gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries!), I want to invite you all, from the local folks and farm members reading to the many new and wonderful far flung readers here in this space too, to take a look at the most important kickstarter campaign of the next 24 hours!

Good friends, great project.  And they need your support to finish this right.  This seemingly humble butcher shop will benefit not just our own local eaters, but you all.  It is a part of the larger, necessary, and oh so important, real food movement.  This involves us all.  And we all can help make this happen, together, bit by bit and place by place.  Thanks for giving it a look!

Their kickstarter campaign: Meat @ Grain Station Marketplace

Picture 1We enthusiastically invite you to join in McMinnville’s growing craft food scene. Our community needs a source for local, pastured meats sold fresh year round. Kyle Chriestenson and Amanda Perron plan to give you just that at MEAT. Our butcher counter will proudly feature pastured animals from some of the areas great small farms and ranches, processed with a passion for quality and flavor. This is the first step in a larger vision, that includes retail, wholesale, deli, and catering. We look forward to growing with the help of our friends and family. Join us in launching this project off to a great start, it will take all of us to make this dream a reality.  Click HERE

Eating with your heart

heart-beetbig heart-beetBe still, my heart.

After seeing those pictures that come and go on the internet showing the correlation between the way food looks and the part of the body it is especially good for if eaten, I often find myself doing the same when I look at food.  When I saw this giant beet, the result of what we now know is the miracle of growing food under plastic in spring, new to us this year but quite nice as it turns out after all the hemming and hawing that took place deciding to bring this into our farming picture, my first thought was that it looked like a heart.  That I should eat it, right then, for my heart.

True, or not, we sliced this beauty up and roasted the whole thing, and I did end up eating almost it all myself, right then, since not everyone on this farm loves roasted beets like I do.  And I did feel that my heart was filled, in more ways than one.

The little boy wanted to help slice it, not easy since beets are pretty solid pieces of root food, but we pretended.  We had fun.  We looked at the surprising inside design of this heirloom variety.  We marvelled, together.  I took photos.  Our oldest boy, my visual artist, took photos too.   And my mind strung together thoughts.  Theories on feeding your family well and with joy, and on the need for a healthy, loving approach to food, free from fear.  I played with words, with phrases like, eating with you heart and food for your heart-beet.

beets, heirloom, seasonal eating, local foodbeets, heirloom vegetables, seasonal eating, local foodBut in my heart, I know that modern day diet theories are a sticky issue.  One I prefer to stay out of, mostly, besides shout outs about the obvious things, like DOWN WITH MONSANTO!  Truly, though, I lament the fact that it is all so complicated.  Complicated, more than anything, by the fact that there is a whole food industry that many of our human kin rely on to feed themselves that appears to care nothing at all about really feeding us.   A food industry that not only appears to not care about that seemingly significant idea in regards to food, but also doesn’t seem to care that they are quietly (and sometimes loudly) making us and the land and all the other creatures around us sick instead.  And for so many of us, sick and wanting to feel better, or simply fed up with eating from the hands that bind us, look around for something better.  A little blind, we seek and grasp for a way, but we are not really sure what that is because that ship has long since sailed.  We have lots of ideas, but lots of them are different from each other.  And so much fear surrounds us because of this, fear of eating the wrong way, that we still don’t eat the right way because we feel confused, unsure, and mabye not better.  And to hope to fix this broken machine seems mildly hopeless, making it all the worse.

I have my own theories for my own family, but I like to keep them as such, theories.  They work for us and stem from our own personal experience with our own personal bodies and health.  I know what makes me sick, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well as what makes my children’s bodies out of whack, and their minds and spirits.  We come from a long line of food allergies and we have our own set of things to consider.  So, we do.

As should we all.

But getting to that point, the point of knowing what works for you and what doesn’t, of where and how to source the food that will really feed you the best, personally, isn’t easy.  And so, to say you should eat with your heart doesn’t really work at all for most of us, unless we have already cleared a lot of the post-modern cobwebs out from inside, and can hear, loudly enough, that beating vessel for what it wants to tell us.

What to do?

Thinking about this mess, it struck me that we do, indeed, have something we can all agree on, something we can all do without fear or worry or confusion.  That the easiest, simplest, truest thing that can be said about eating and thriving and feeding ourselves well and whole, without complication, is this–eating fresh, bright, and beautiful vegetables, in abundance, is the right place to start. 

Whether you plant your own small (or large) garden and eat your own harvests, or you head to a farmer’s market, easy to find these days, and eat the harvests of other farmers like us, or even if you just go to the regular market and look for the brightest, most beautiful, and fresh looking produce you can find and bring it home, this is the place to start.  Eat them, everyday in every way. This is a powerful and fulfilling way to eat no matter anything else.

Or so my heart and head decided, stewing about this all, beet in hand and then in tummy, the other day.  I know, without a doubt, that this food feeds the whole me.  And the whole you probably wants a bite of this beauty too,  this vibrant, healthy, uncomplicated, sweet kind of food.  There is little bad you can say about the humble vegetable class.  Besides the sometimes unpleasant flavor of less than fresh broccoli, it is all good.  This, I feel sure about, even in a time when sure is hard to come by.  So.

Eat Your Veggies!  With love.

beets, radish, carrot, spring food, local food, seasonal eating

News! News! Market Credit/Shares Now Available!

InstagramcarrotsThis just in.

Local folks!  Growing Wild Farm is now offering market credit/shares.  This is a wonderful option for those of our shoppers who prefer picking and choosing what vegetables from the harvest they would like to take home each week, but who have also wanted to become more a part of our farm family.  A CSA is not for everyone, and this we can appreciate, so this year, we are offering a market share option.

Paid in $90 increments, market members will receive a $100 credit at our farmer’s market booth.  Then with ease and without worrying about how much cash to bring each week, you can just swing by and grab what catches your fancy.  We will subtract it from your credit until it is used up.  Then, you can pay again.  We, in return each week, will harvest a lovely selection of what is ripe and ready from the fields, with lots of our standard favorites~salad mix, beets, kale, chard, onions~plus loads of summertime goodies~summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  We will also send out our popular and helpful weekly newsletter to each of you.  Part cooking ideas, part farm philosophy, you will get a big hug of farm love to your inbox with fun, interesting, sweet, and new recipes both for your kitchen and for living.

And all of our farm family is invited out to share in the summer-loving potluck evenings we host once or twice out on the farm each season.  Consider joining us in the adventures and flavors of our 2013 farm season.  Come by the market booth and sign up today!