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

summer of dirty feet

You touch the one sticking out of the sheet,
searching
for a little relief, the cool of morning.
I feel you, feeling me
finding my dirty foot
turning you on,
the work these feet have done this year.

Of course, all things want to grow.
But we are prone to stagnate,
wilt,
even falter,
to save ourselves from the labouring,
to save ourselves from this contraction, and the next, and the next.
Afraid to ride these waves, unrelenting, never-ending.
We think it is easier.

But, here I stand, so dirty, worked hard,
stronger, better,
grown.

And even though I try to wash my feet before bed,
letting the mud of the tended soil
wash
away,
to come to bed clean,
to keep the night sacred,
to touch the holy space that is you and I, together,
with feet as clean as a Daughter of God,

most nights,
this year,
I forget.

But this summer of dirty feet,
and your touch, simple, gentle,
fully upon them,
it is all just about growing, right?

We can’t do anything else and survive.
And besides, this is all I have ever known how to do.

I’ve always invited the mud..

blackberry bramble

farming, challenges, family, summer, sunset,

Perhaps you have wondered where I have been. Not here, no. But, under the sun, every day. It has been the strangest, hardest summer around in a while, and though the thorns have dug in deep, and I find myself living ahead of myself, my mantra almost every day, “next summer, next summer, next summer,” I come back around, always, by sunset. Then I remember, the plenty of good, too. We have gone to the river practically every day, the kids transformed into the most beautiful fish (and one mermaid). And I know that this summer is this only summer, so I don’t forget to let the smell of the blackberries, overripe from all the extra heat we’ve had in our normally more moderate clime, so sticky and tasting like kool-aid, I don’t forget to let this wash over me and sink in. I don’t ever want to jump ahead, I always want to feel it all. It always come around, like me with every sunset, to have been good in its way. I am always grateful, in the end.

sunset, farming, summer, challenges, gratitude, joy

sunrise on sunflowers on the last day of august

sunrise, sunflowers, farm, august, end of summer“August rain:  the best of the summer gone, the new fall not yet born.

The odd uneven time.” 

Silvia Plath

September dawns tomorrow.  Many mornings this week dawned moist, cooler, with the smallest hint of changing seasons.  It is close.  The beginning of the end.  Although my own sunflowers bloomed early this year, in a year where everything was early, this morning when I woke before the rest of the house and stepped outside to catch the rising sun on the inhale, the sight of them with the kiss of sunrise on their petals really hit this truth home for me.  Autumn is coming, but not quite here.

And what makes this in between time so uneven and odd, I think, for everyone, is that we are beginning to long for the sweet, slow contraction that comes with fall.  After the way summer explodes us, opens us wide to the world, its full days and full living, we grow tired of all that expansiveness.  In spirit for sure, but as farmers, in body too, now that hours upon hours have been spent picking summer crops in the same repetitive position.  Our backs and legs begin to complain.  We begin to long for a little bit of structure and containment.  The wild abandon feels too much.  We want the growth to slow.  We want to turn inwards, face away from the sun some.

And this inkling tickles us while we wait for the world to fall in upon itself.  We know what we are letting go of~summer~is worthy of our love and we know that one of these days will mark our last swim in the river, our last chance to camp in the tent, our last outdoor summer potluck or gathering.  We know we can’t wish it away too soon because we know will miss it.  That by the end of winter we will feel all of this in reverse.  This uneven tinkering between the end and the beginning is always filled with this mild angst.

And so I fret a little myself, torn between a really strong desire to not weed another single row of vegetables for the season and to give my neglected home a thorough cleaning and an equally strong sensation of wanting this time to last forever, of wanting to harvest and preserve as much as possible, to really keep at it for as long as the sun will allow.

sunflowers, sunrise, end of summer, autumn, seasonsSunflowers are always the one for me right now, my guide, so to speak, at this time of year.  The way they follow the sun while it lasts is as good a reminder as any that this is what our trade calls us to do while we still can.  All the hay isn’t in, so to speak, we can’t quit now.  And even some cool morning weather and some fallen rain and some gentle winds that speak of change can surprisingly balance with the days that are still hot and are still long enough.  The way I told it to my market customers earlier this week was this, as the weather literally changed back and forth over and over again throughout the day, “how crazy is this day!”

Perhaps we are all going a little stir crazy, not in the exact way we are when we long for spring and call it cabin fever, but in much the same way.  We desire some time in our “cabin”, won’t that be nice.  And much like we feel when spring turns us out of doors again, amazed and refreshed, this we will feel when we do finally get to tuck in for winter.  Having to get through the crazy-making in between times only means the respite that follows will be that much sweeter.

sunflower, seasons, autumn, end of summer, august, farm

sunshine and lollipops and lots of tomato sauce

heirloom tomatoes, canning season, sustainable farming, farming, gardening, tomato sauce, summerWhen I am walking the rows of tomato plants in late August, so much sun on my back and sweat on my brow, and the sticky smell of tomatoes mixed with fermenting blackberries surrounds me, both intoxicating and suffocating, I remind myself to soak it all in.  In field work, and hard work of any kind, mantras help.  Remember this in your heart, in your mind, in your body.  Remember.

The smells, the heat.  The feeling of my body moving.  There is something so settling about the grey that will cover the skies here in the Pacific Northwest come late fall, and then stay all through the winter and spring.  Those skies create a sameness that spreads out covering everything, and although I love it like a favorite blanket, I know that it is all the better for this time of year right now.  For hot sun and dry ground and ripe tomatoes.

The tomato harvest in our wild, sprawling tomato patch is like a treasure hunt.  An eye spy game of finding the red hidden within all of the greens and browns and goldens of the tomato plants and the weeds.  I watch the tomatoes pile up in the path as I make my way through the rows, my loot.  The feeling of so much.  I am filled.  While I bake in the sun to gather these stars of the summer, I think about how later that night I will take all of the not-pretty-enough-for-market fruits inside and commence the never-ending pot of tomato sauce cooking on the stove-top season.  I imagine the wonderful aroma that will fill our home, and the wonderful flavor that will fill our bellies, later, when this sun is long gone.

I fight off the longing for fall.  All of the ways that I can.  I know well enough by now that love for any one thing is brightened in its contrast.  To cool off, after all that work, we will pull some popsicles out of the freezer.  We sit on our porch facing west and linger.  My children, too, grow like the tomatoes and I can’t slow it down nor speed it up so I try to take it all in.  The hot sun and dry ground and ripe tomatoes.  The sunshine and lollipops and lots of tomato sauce.

mindfulness, summer, popsicles, children, parentingmindfulness, summer, popsicles, parenting, childrenmindfulness, summer, popsicles, parenting, children