thick in the mystery of it all

loveImagine, here, the longest, sweetest, exhale of all. Every bit of tension in the shoulders, the low back, the stomach, released. Summer has gone.

Not that fall doesn’t come with its own troubles, especially when big changes take place that land you, once again, (always, I worry), under the weight of financial stress. But the fog, the cool night air, it wraps its arms around me, this house, slowly finding order from the chaos of the busy farm season, the children, all of us, it seems, and there is a comfort there. We keep moving forward, truly we do, but always in our own slow, steady way, always coming back to our center, which revolves around each other, our relationships, our duty and care for one another. It is hard, at times, when I want things to be easy, but then I remember, it probably isn’t easy for anyone, life, not if you are actively engaged in the living of it, anyway.

But it is in those tough spots we rub up against throughout our lives that we usually find the most meaning, our own meaning, if we are looking for it. I’ve answered a million questions that stalked me this summer just by facing the fire of it all. And for someone like me, that’s what I am here to do, so I can be fully present and wide open to the flow of life through and around me, so I can be of use to this world in the ways that I find laid out before me.

What am I really rambling about, anyway?

So much, and so little, I suppose.

This year, this year of the horse, has been nothing short of the wild ride I could feel it mounting to be back in January. And as challenging as it was for me, for the people in my life I love most of all, and as challenging as it continues to be, I find the ride and all of the ups and downs that come with it all worth it all.

Because I can’t imagine it another way. Static doesn’t hold much appeal over here and besides, we know and hold onto the fact that there is no arrival, it is all about the movement and what we choose to do with the moment that matters in this game. So, worry and joy live side by side, trial and bliss. We keep moving because life is moving. We live fully in the fog in the fall, we face the sun in the summer. We stand in the fire come winter, so we can rebirth ourselves each spring. We grow, wild, here on this farm. Together, apart, thick in the mystery of it all.

insight, follow your dream, mindful living, intentional living, conscious living, inner work, small farming, writing, life learning

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picture perfect summer’s night

It is hot this weekend.

We are sweaty and smiling, splashing in and out of the small kid’s pool in the front yard.  And spending the bulk of our late afternoons at our favorite creek, further up in the hills from the farm than the river just down our road, but better when it is really hot and the crowds are out and the colder, mountain water feels just right.  We can’t work much in the heat, so we play.  We break into the small stash of frozen raspberries and blueberries even though they were meant to be saved for winter.  We treat ourselves.  We are summering.

I love this weather.

I love the feeling of being baked, like the earth, to perfection.  I drink it in, I feel myself unfurling.  I need a good dose of it to make it through the grey Pacific Northwest winters of my adopted home.  I am, by the sun, a leo after all.

And the plants are soaking it up too.  Well watered, they love the heat just as much I do.  I feel like I can almost see them growing by the minute.

But even more than the intense middle of the day, when the temperatures peak, what I really love, and miss the most from my childhood’s Midwest summers, is the evening time during an Oregon heat wave.  Perfect summer nights, still warm, without a need for a sweater, but still cooler than the day.  If I were younger, I would just throw down some blankets on the ground and sleep outside.  If I could, I’d find some water to swim in under the moon.  Those are the kind of summer nights I love.

Last night, we walked the fields in this perfect slowing down, simmering down time of the day.  The sounds of the birds and the bugs, happy again to not be sweltering, filled the air alongside the blanket of dusk.  I had my camera back in hand after a very long two week break of lending it to the oldest boy for art camp.  I missed it, missed looking at our space through the lens, capturing this light.  I gobbled it all up and stuffed it into digital files again.  It was lovely.

This year’s growing season has been amazing.  The weather, the plantings, the success.  A true gift.  I wish we could bottle it up and pour it over ever year to come, but we know all too well that this isn’t how the game of farming works.  Nevertheless, it does feel like it was meant just for us, a balm from the universe to heal the wounds of last season, the first year that ever had us doubting our chosen profession.

Looking around last night at all the happy plants, pest free and thriving, the happy soil, the growing perennials, the beauty of our home, I almost couldn’t believe it was real.  We are truly blessed.   And we really do love what we do and all of the things that are a part of that, the good and the bad.  We are happy, despite everything that could get in the way of our happiness, and that is about the most anyone can ask for.

This place is ours.  Our vision turned reality.  The cumulation of all our choices so far.  It feels good to be able to say that we don’t regret any of it.

Last night was perfect summer’s night.  Picture perfect, yes, as captured in photos.  But more than that, it was, just like any other night in our lives, imperfectly perfect.  It was us walking our land. Food growing, and weeds too. Naked small people running around that I couldn’t take pictures of, sometimes stepping in the rows, sometimes running through the wild.  They were stitching their own sense of summer into their bare skin.  My only hope for them, and for all of you, is that there are enough golden moments in the journey to always make the whole thing seem to shine.

farm, farming, csa, field, summer, summer night

 Shining view of our lower field.  We’ve planted more space down there than ever before this year.  This golden, golden year.

farm, farm life, father, son

Down the hill with papa on a perfect summer night.

tomatoes, farming, farm, csa, organic farming

All kinds of tomatoes growing, growing, growing.   And not too many weeds, hooray!

carrots, beets, lettuces, succession planting, farm, farming

Succession plantings=success!   Carrots, beets, lettuces.   These, we keep planting every few weeks into September. 

salad mix, lettuce, farm, farming

Up close, salad mix.  And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

lettuce, field, farm, farming

Even sprouting up in the wrong place, she grows.  Lettuces are almost as beautiful to me as flowers.

cabbage, farming, farm

Red rock cabbage, even though you are behind schedule, the color of your leaves will always make me swoon.

irrigation, farming, farm

We make do, it is what we do.  Meaning, no fancy irrigation equipment here!

sprouts, succession planting, farm, farming

We were once this fragile too.

tomatillos, farm, farming

Tomatillos make me drool! 

green beans, farming, farm

Beautiful bean planting, so healthy and happy, and no pests.  Good.

love, farming, farmer, green beans, farm

I really am loving this year’s bean plantings.  And every year, more and more, I love this farmer too.

view, farm, farming, home, love

This is our home.  Sweet, sweet, home.

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.