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.

hot, sweaty, dirty, love

hotsweaty + dirtyloveToday, we planted and planted and planted.   The soil is perfect.

I’m not sure where the rain is hiding, but for this pacific Northwest farm, the sun is like a dream.

And for this summer-heart, dirty-hands-happy mama, this is love.

weeding: outside and in

weedingcatching the sun

I love weeding, love it.  I think I heard someone once say that they don’t believe people who claim to enjoy this task, but I think it is as different for everyone as different their personalities.  I do find weeding meditative, I love to clear space both in the garden bed and inside and even within my thoughts, which is why I write, after all.

The farmer is more of a busy bee.  He flits from task to task and gets things done in a circular way.  He weeds to get a result.  But I sit down and zone out.  I move straight down the row, and if the small children allow, I will get to the end and walk away feeling like I finished something, refreshed, accomplished.

The smell of the earth close by, the sounds of outside.  Maybe I love it so because it is a respite from the lovely loud noise of a busy home.   But I have been thinking about this, bringing forth metaphors while I find time this early, early spring to start clearing away the mess of winter’s entropy–what does the way I garden say about me?

The tasks that lead up to are my favorite.  I can spend hours weeding, but also transplanting seedlings, starting seeds.  What I don’t always love to do is harvest.  Washing and preparing veggies for market is great, and market is always fun.  But the real act of completion, the harvest itself, I shy away from.  The farmer is fast and efficient and so even though I help when I can and often for ourselves, I can not harvest for hours and hours without going a little batty.

But I want to change that.  I want to have something to harvest for myself this year. I am so good at the meditating, the planting, but always afraid of actually letting something come to fruition.  So busy with thinking, always thinking.

In praise of this habit, I will say that cultivating the inner workings of a mind is a good thing to do, that I find peace in my soul’s place in this world.

I just want to bring some of that light to bear above the ground.

This year, soon.

I want to do the more tedious (for me) work of harvesting.

the quickening


The quickening.  Can you feel it too?

That is the word that has been coming to my mind again and again  these past few weeks.  And lo and behold, it is also one (of the many) names given to this week’s full moon.

The beginning of things.  Or more accurately, the middle.  Almost the tipping point, but not quite.

The slow, gradual journey to fecundity, started with tiny seeds, and now itching our skin from the inside, almost ready to be found on the outside, in our bodies moving, full again.  Full of life, which of course we are all through these sleepy winter months, but still, full in louder ways, full and abundant–that is what we are now stepping foot after foot towards. It’s thrilling.  And the word on the tip of my tongue so perfect, so encapsulating of these feelings stirred in the blood by so little a thing as earlier sunrises and daffodil shoots.

When you feel those first few butterfly flutters of new life in your womb, the moment is a rush of excitement and awe, wonder and delight.  But everything is wrapped in the yarn of anticipation.  Don’t we love those little fingers and feet brushing against us from the mystery of inside out?  Even when all that is to come is still hidden.  Everything is unknown.

the mystery of seeds

Of course, we feel this way about a farming season too.  The eager anticipation that begins with making the plans, ordering the seeds. Germinating before germination. Cleaning up the seed starting greenhouse, mixing the potting soil.  And then, sowing.  Tediously filling up a large space with very tiny things.  It is all so good.  Good because of what it means, what it intends–because the real birth of a season comes much later when we see what kind of spring weather we’ll have, how much rain and when and for how long, and whatever other particular awesomenesses or challenges arise from the earth along with those plants.  A mystery teasing us now in its all promising way, quickening our pace bit by bit until soon it will require full laboring.

And then, reaping, always abundantly, one way or another.

But for now, I will stir that word around in my mouth a while longer.  I know too well that the cycle goes by faster and faster with each breath.  The quickening.   For now, while we are still able to pause and savor it all easily, without too much weight or worry, we will revel in the magic that is the unknowing, in the promise.  Spring is magic.  And hope, faith.

All things sweetly anticipated and reverently moved towards are more graciously received.  The whole process is a joy, each part inseparable from the whole.

My pulse quickens at the thought of those long, ripe days of summer; I seriously long for hot and sweaty skin, I do love the sun so.  But when it arrives, it will be all the better because of this season of calm.  Watching those perky daffodils grow without any hurry, their greens a cheery sight, there yellow bonnet flowers so much the more, I attempt the same myself.

It is the quickening, but that translates to slow and steady, inch by inch.  It is a happy pace, and definitely a picked up pace.  But not rushed, nor wild.  It is that special place between worlds.  It carries movement towards, healthy, sure growth.

Like an expectant mother, we wait.  But like her too, we nourish ourselves while we can.  We prepare for the birth of the season.

the quickening

summer: check in

Another beautiful summer week, we’ve been busy weeding wonderful summer crops that are flowering and fruiting and almost ready for harvest like green beans and cucumbers, planting winter crop starts like crazy and working up the rest of the ground those transplants and seeds will go into, and taking a wee bit of time on many of these hot days to splash in the river!
Still, as hot as it is, I think that until crops like green beans and cucumbers and summer squash start making there appearance (next week or so for some of that), these beginning of the season harvests are the ones people have the hardest time with.  Larger farm operations utilizing acres of greenhouses or growing with synthetic fertilizer on black plastic can grow things faster than we can with the slow but steady release of nutrients organically provided from well tended soil and out in the field.  With things even behind by a few weeks, it can be hard to wait, but there will be weeks and weeks of those crops we associate with summer eating; once they start, they must be harvested over and over again!
The idea of helping out on the farm and of work parties continues to come up in conversations with members and we are still trying to figure out how to make that work in a positive, fun, and helpful way.
All in all, things are well and good on the small cosmos of our farm.  We are trying to stay present in the moment and not live too much in next year, a tricky thing to do in the business of farming it seems, since we are in the thick of summer at the same time we are planning and planting for harvests up to nine months away!  Still, it is summer now, and there is nothing quite so beautiful as the sunlight glistening off the river droplets all over my children’s bodies as they splash around, nor anything quite like watching summer plants grow, so fast and vigorous compared to the rest of the year.  We all can probably do that in these months if we keep ourselves well watered and in the sun!