cucumber dreams

cucumber vines, beauty in nature, love, farmingThey say time flies when you are having fun, but really, after a certain point in your life, time flies no matter if you are having fun or not. I haven’t been able to get a blog post in since the first morning yawn of April. That is a long time ago. But no, really, it was just a blink of the eye.

I had planned on keeping everything under control this farm season, my house, my writing schedule, my mama-hood-y goodness. I would still make time for us to see friends. I wouldn’t have a mountain of crazy to uncover come late autumn, I wouldn’t disappear. I wanted to keep summer from barreling over us faster than we could keep the purposeful and intentioned steps of our feet on the ground. But summer. Farming. Maybe it isn’t really possible.

I am trying to be gentle on myself. I have these four children, and we are all in this together, and no matter how much of a super-human I feel like I am supposed to be, I am not. I am super, but I am also human. I feel compelled to do all these things, but I don’t see for a minute how I can do them all well. As the children get older, they find that just being on the farm and snacking on fresh food and having life be consumed by this one thing that is such a good, good thing, such a necessity in times gone, isn’t as enough as it once was. And I think–rather, I know–that I need a few more hands in the field and in the home and that my two are not as enough as they once seemed, either. And another summer is going to be gone before I know it. Another year. I don’t like the feeling of life controlling me, but perhaps all along I was wrong to think that I could control it. I feel a bit like a rock, stuck, wondering if there is really any purpose to this madness. I wonder, too much, perhaps, about everything.

So, I try not to. Instead, I get up, I walk the fields, my fields. The plants, my loves. I marvel at the coming abundance. I sweat, I ache, I let my body do what it was made to do. Move and work, provide. I think, on the summer solstice, of winter. It isn’t that far away. I let go a little, and let those vegetables wait while I find my breath and stay present with the kids, my dear sweet children. I want to fix what I perceive to be broken, but there isn’t a fix, not at this moment, not now, midsummer. So, I surrender as best I can, not knowing what to do, but doing the best I can for now.

I eagerly await the first cucumber. I will let it be divine.

It will be, divine.

From seed to seed

spring, farm, farm life, pride, ego, letting goThe world around me is fully greening up now. It is a beautiful sight, all plant growth expanding, even though, as always, the wild plants and perennials take off infinitely faster than the wee little cultivated seedlings and transplants we have tucked into the fields ourselves. They are growing, certainly, but it is like watching the pot, so to speak. It is slow compared to our desire, and slow compared to the explosion of grass and weed that is so full of force and life in the spring by comparison.

Still, we have a good harvest coming in, the last push of the overwintered plants in the field are making florets now, giving us a whole other crop to eat, and the greenhouse bridges the gap by growing food fast enough while we wait for that same speed to issue forth out of doors. All green food, in spring, all great food. Spinach, lettuce, kale, turnip greens, and arugula. And wild harvests galore, because so much of the early spring weed growth is meant to be eaten, it’s true. Nettles, dandelion, wild mustard. I am making herbal vinegars with all these plants I need to pull up anyway, a nice way to hold onto all the goodness these wildings want to give away right now, even if they are growing in all the wrong places. Like we do, the earth and I, we are dancing together the dance of the season. Even the onions, right now, are green. And the garlic, too.

But it isn’t as easy to find that same green-ness in ourselves, not always, as we age, as life adds layer upon layer to our skin. I found myself in tears yesterday, in the wash station with this week’s spinach, because my oldest child is almost thirteen years old. That is only five years, by the books, five years, and there you have it, a childhood. And I know, I know, that it isn’t really left much, already, not truly even five years more. This slayed me, for some reason, out of the blue, while I worked, because his childhood is one of the most important things to me in the world.

It is so hard, this parenting gig, and I have done so many great things as a mother and so many things I wish I could take back. I started out thinking I would do everything right. I didn’t accept at all, on the outset, that life and love would be perfectly human, and that I too, must be.

But I know better than to let the sadness, the worry, wash me away, so I came inside and gave this young boy, on his way to young man, a hug. I let go. Letting go is all that we can do. Over and over and over again, the only way to keep moving forward. I have faith, too. That is just as important.

I never expect the earth to hold on to last season. I know, each spring, that we are on a new ride. Sure, I have lessons learned, I have new ideas, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect this time round. And yet, I know, too, that I can just as surely count on things to grow, for food to be produced. The earth provides, every year, again and again, without any trace of growing older, without any hint of defeat. Without worry or weight, things just follow through, as best they can, from seed to seed.

So, must we.

 

 

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

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

this sunrise is the only sunrise

sunrise, nature, life, gratitude, loveHappy New Year!

January is here in all its quiet and subdued glory.  After all the hoopla of the holidays, I always think it feels just right to get back to the routines, to embrace fully the structure of this first, uneventful month of the year. In our home, on this farm, this month is, like it is for so many people, completely under control.  We have lots of goals and lots of plans, and for now, we have the time, space, and energy to keep to them, the path clearly laid out.  This is a beautiful thing.

The tricky part is–and we all know this well–not all of this is likely to hold a whole year through.  Life will have its way, too.  There will be detours unforeseen.  For us, no matter the plan, there is that moment every farming season when the only control possible is to let go of control, to simply let the water pull us under, knowing that the only way to make it out alive is not to hold our breath or struggle against things, but to instead just become the fish. To let ourselves be fully immersed.  We will be there again, I know, busier than busy, lifting so much life in our arms from this ever abundant earth.  That is part of our goal, after all, even if that itself becomes its own force to be reckoned with, a force that our neat and tidy days of January can scarcely hope to keep shackled to the shape we’ve drawn for it here in this stillness.

Right now, we make lists, order seeds, plan and schedule, and it soothes our human instinct to have order, to be in control, just as much as the times of feeling out of control beautifully humble us each year when we find ourselves at the mercy–in ways both wonderful and challenging–of the natural world.

mt hood, farmscape, sunrise, beauty, life, love, gratitude, natureRight now, waking in the dark, writing every day, having the time already for a break at sunrise to watch the red sky awaken the world around me–believe me, there is a part of me that wants to stay right here.  This feels perfect.

But this isn’t how life works, and why should it?

Life is a force to be reckoned with.  All we have is this moment.  The real resolutions, each year, the ones that matter to us most, the ones we hope to keep true at their core and really want to bring to light can’t be heavy with their own stomachfuls of stone.  Sometimes, what may masquerader as strength in January can end up being a mere veneer, hiding underneath it a brittle underbelly that just can’t weather the storm.

After thirty-seven years and so much paying attention, this is one of the good lessons I know I’ve learned, but the kind that I need to always remind myself of, especially now, in sweet January.

Don’t forget to tie up those hopes and dreams and innumerable plans with the highest quality rubber bands you can buy. 

The kind of strength this ship needs is the kind found in elasticity, not rigidity.

Wrap me around this life, a million times over in any sort of direction, and I swear I won’t break.  And when I’m unwound, I’m still the same still thing I was, not bent at all.  The shape remains.

I swear this to myself, right now, in this peaceful, perfect moment, this one sunrise.  And, I’ll try, at least, to say it with each other predictable morning sunrise I get to see.

rilke, sunrise, nature, beauty, gratitude, flexibility“If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.”

Alan Watts.