Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Wish List

Snow is a game changer. Essentials come sharply into focus, even as it blurries and softens  the landscape, like the long imagined oft waited for first kiss from a  crush, or the nail in the coffin completed hail Mary pass in the last seconds of the 4th quarter. It tests the design of the pastures and paddocks. The plan of your fencing. It reveals the weak spots and brings to boast the bright spots of the farm. It transforms the trek to the barn into an artic expedition. You wipe your chilled and chiseled jaw with the back of your mittened hand and pretend that you have to draw on all your physical strength to make it to the barn and back…you burst in upon the cow and goats, with a breath of flurries and a small flood of snowdrift and settle yourself on the overturned milk crate for the evening’s milking…you begin to daydream about the blizzards you read about as a girl, in Laura Ingalls’s Wilder’s books and in Sarah Plain and Tall…and you grin as you admit that your knee-high wade through the powder and up the hill did not require tying a rope from the house the barn, as it did in those stories…but was still admirably glorious none the less…Soon you are uncertain as to where your allegiance lies: to the woodstove fire in your living room, with the pot of hot cocoa on the stove, or to the barn, all asnug in snow drifts on the outside and nests of hay on the inside where the animals have nosed little caves in their piles of stemmy alfalfa. With a sizeable river of snow between them it is a sincere toss-up.

The truck you borrowed from the neighbor won’t start. It is stalled down the hill, by the house, stacked 5 ft. tall with hay bales. Even if it could be started, it could not navigate the drifts between it and the barn. Snow reveals a lot of isms in life. One ism being you really don’t need to go anywhere in winter at all. Another being: there’s more in your kitchen cupboards and freezer than you think. Yet another: Automobiles are great as far as plowed roads go. Our royal dumping of 2 feet made us quite instantly grateful for Maj and Marta. It occurred to us that without them a sizeable storm like the one we had Sunday night could easily strand us, just as it has stranded the truck. We hitch up the Fjords and begin a morning of hayrides up and down the driveway, shuttling our bales to and fro for storage in the barn.
The snow is much needed moisture, and has come just after we newly seeded the hay field…it is a welcome gift, even if it does turn a 10 minute chore into a 3 hour one. It is a farmer’s relief, covering over all the unfinished tasks, and giving instead the limitless dream filled possibility of a white canvas, a fresh sheet of paper unfolded before the windowpane, and long evenings to plan the filling of it. The husbandman’s satisfaction, in seeing his earth bride roll over, and pull up her quilt of white over her shoulders after a season’s worth of sowing, and birth, and growing, and death.

But then there is that weighty quiet that comes with a good snowfall. That heavy silence which pushes you back upon yourself and presses with expectation.  It’s the Eliza Doolittle question that a snowed in day brings with it: the “But what is to become of me” question she asks Henry Higgins after his grand experiment has been tried and is over…the whole farm and fields and flocks and herds ask it…”But what is to become of me?”

The waning daylight hours make us sleep at 8 and awake before the sun, greeting the dark dawn with the Eliza Doolittle question and with a tet e tet with the Sun. “There was a time, old fellow, when I cursed your insesent cheerfulness…you were up before me, grinning down upon the work I was to be about, and refusing to go to bed at a decent hour, you kept me at it far into evening…but where are you now? See here, I’m waiting for you to show your tardy face so I may be about my chores, and my hens may be about their laying…but you stay so long abed and when you do show your mug, it is a pale one!”

Eager to show their support for our family, and for our fledging farm here in the St. Croix Valley, a few esteemed souls of the village here have asked us to write a Christmas Wish List for the farm and post it here, on the blog site…

There was a time, recently, in fact, where I would have listed up a veritable laundry list of farm needs and desires, and thrown my full weight (sizeable, these days) into a shameless public plea for said items, well aware that we have friends flung far and wide whose graciousness and support would be likely to compel them to come to our aid…

But oddly enough, the closer we get to Christmas the less inclined I am to meditate on our needs and wants. It is hard to stomach the asking when the country of the Christ child lies is so much turmoil and strife. I am finding the more my mind circles around what we need, the less I prepare to meet the needs of others, including those closest to me…becoming embroiled in that strange paradox, that the more secure you are, the more cut off from hope and faith and love…and the less secure, the more you cling to those fragmentary scraps of the immaterial, yes, but the all-important certainly, those virtues from which other goods grow…

Our struggle here, right now, is the same one that is happening in the Holy Land. It is a fight for ownership of dirt. A desire to encircle a piece of land with one’s own chalk or piece of twine, or a contract, and call it “ours”. Not simply for the wealth that such ownership may provide, but for the freedoms it harbors, and the shelter it offers for the family with small children for whom so much of the world is an Inn with no room.

We are now working out the details of our CSA Farm Shares. In order to preserve our farm’s integrity, our family’s sanity, and our CSA’s sustainability we are preparing to offer our farm shares to a more limited group of people. People who are willing to come out to the farm to pick up their shares, who understand the importance of small, local farms, and who are willing to invest in one because they understand it is an investment in the essential fabric of their community…and not a luxurious indulgence in a fad. Friendship, not consumership, is sought. This has long been the CSA movement’s challenge, to rally towards a modern day grasp of what the small family farms of the early 1900s had: true community. Corn Husking Bees, Threshing parties, Barn dances, and strawberry pie. Letters home, Letters to your sweetheart, and a neighbor’s helping hand.  Now some may accuse me of Pollyannaism. Of being overly Nostalgic before my time. Of being a Luddite. What has gone before is not better for being in the past no more than “progress” is better for plowing into the future…we must judge things based on what they are in the here and now, for their intrinsic natures, and their natural ends…and something in me begs to be excused from the adult world which finds its wisdom in insurance policies, lawyer’s fees, gasoline, and posturing. I think the CSA’s best hope is that at rock bottom people suspect that eating can and ought to be a little bit more simply come by than it is now, with the obligatory trip to the Super Market Middleman store, and that culture can and ought to mean more than skinny jeans, and I phones. What is missing is the good work to fill our days with, to take pride and delight in, and for the sake of which we bow our head in humble nod of thanks to the neighbor with his much needed and timely offer of help…

So perhaps after all I will print our Christmas Wish List…and it reads something like an Irish Limerick:

May we ever and always have good work to do,
Good Land to do it on,
And good Friends to help.
(With Cider both sweet and hard to crown it all…)

Monday, November 12, 2012


4 days ago I took what I thought would be the last photograph of our Jersey cow, Honey.
It's posted below under "How to Give up on A Farm".
The day before she was to be sold a neighboring farmer came up the driveway with some corn stalk bales for bedding for our dairy animals...
I remember looking out the window at his act of generosity and thinking:
Seems like everyone else is fighting harder for this farm's future than I am.
The thought was a jolt, and electric charge inspiring me...but the facts of our life at the moment, and the crunch of things were ready to jerk me back from full digestion of that inspiration...
When a farmer with livestock fails to bring in a hay crop, the coming of Winter feels something like a death knell. With barn full of hay  the snow fall becomes a blanket, covering over work well done, and peaceful security...but the Winter weather stealing over the landcape, filling the sky, the chill in the air, the drop in temperature, the loss of daylight...all of it, over an empty barn and empty pocket book brings a stiffness to the bones, a tightness in the chest...You start to mentally delete animals in your mind's eye. You feel like your milking someone elses's animal. You shrink from the farm that has sustained you all year, emotionally and physically, afraid to give it anything more of your heart...breaking under the ridiculous strain of not quite enough cash.
Jerry deposited the corn stalk bales near the coop and his machine came to rest on the hill.
He looked out over the goats and Honey and her calf. "I didn't know she had a heifer!" He grinned admiringly. I broke forth with a guilty tale of woe and told him how we were going to sell her the next morning. Nothing feels quite so wrong as telling an "oldtimer" that your going to sell the cornerstone of your farm: the milk cow.
The story of how we came to sell Honey was simple enough. In a time of lots of liquidaton, and Fall butchering, Shane had sat on the edge of the girls' bed and said: "We are not going to sell Lemon. We'll keep her over the winter, and breed her for piglets." Lemon was from the beginning, on account of her unique color, the favored hog on the farm....and given the skyrocketing price of feeder pigs, the idea seemed an ideal investment. We'd get 8-10 piglets out her, and have feeders to sell in the Spring, and the girls would be allowed consumation of at least one cute animal attachment.
It proved , eventually, to be an Aggememnon promise, or at least seemed to be. Things got too tight, and when it came time to butcher the other three hogs and three more lambs besides, the price of Lemon was needed to pay the butchering costs. Money is always such a bother on the farm. The farm produces plenty of things: grain, poultry, meat, milk, eggs, cheese....but money has yet to grow on trees or bushes or stalks....and the butcher would, all things considered, rather be paid with a check, than with chicken. We sold Lemon, cringing at the broken promise....and our 4 year olds inability to believe we could break a promise, and must not be explaining things right when we tried. Her absolute faith was both heart rending and inspiring. A gift almost too heavey to bear.
All this over a consarned pig!
The day the butcher arrived, we had no trouble loading all three of the other hogs into the trailer. But suddenly he slammed the door shut, as some of his other "customers" were trying to make a break for it.
I had one of those God given pauses, looking at Lemon, left standing alone in the pen, and very distinctly understood that I would not be much of a wife if I didn't find some way to help my husband keep his promise to our girls. So, watching the dollar signs crumble and slip through my fingers, I heard my voice say: "We're keeping this one." The butcher could here the weak knees and flummox in my voice "Really?" he asked "Well, that makes it easier for me...they're about to bust out of here!"
Cussing softly I released the bewildered Lemon with a shake of the head and an affectionate pat on the rump. I told myself "This is where emotion gets you" as I walked up to the house...knowing all the time, that it wasn't emotion that saved that hog from the slaughter.
I figured I had just one last asset large enough to make up the refund dollars for the two folks who had bought Cow and calf.
Everybody seems to know without thinking about it, that a cow is a cornerstone for a farm. A farm with a cow can feed a family, their hogs, their cats, their orphan goat....a cow's schedule requires something from the farmer that will mean the sucess eventually of a young farm: absolute loyalty and persevearance. You cannot skip a milking time. You must muck out her stall. You must take the time to train her...because she's a lot bigger than you!
But those moments, leaning into her flank....are moments that wed you to the whole shebang.
They are the farmer's time for contemplation...and even in the worst of times, prove therapeutic at the very least.
When I told this tale to the farmer with the corn bales I was mindful that he knew what a shame it was to be losing an animal we had tamed from cow number 364 to "Honey" queen or the Little Flower Farm Dairy herd. My mind began to plunge down into the different ways I could have been more mindful of our newly seeded hay pasture, wondering where I had gone wrong to have arrived at such an impass.
He broke in on these thoughts with "Well, how much is she worth to you?"
I didn't understand the question.
"What are you selling her for?"
When we told him he asked if a thousand dollars would do us."I had a good year" he said "My wife and I don't need it."
I looked at the man. And promptly burst into the most shameful torrent to tears you ever did see.
They were words I needed to hear, and certainly never expected to. Not from a near stranger.
" I learned a very important lesson in my life many years ago" he said, when he returned later with money for Honey's redemption, "I was combining for Mauritz (the man who built your farm) years ago in that very field there, and a neighbor kid came up and asked for some work to do. He was a scrawny nothing of a kid. And I kept wondering what kind of work I could possibly have for a kid like him. So I told him I'd think about it. I got back in the combine and was going over the field and thinking what I could have him do...and I realized there was a heck of a lot of rock in that field. I could use someone to pick rock. So I went over to his house and knocked on the door. And you know what? That scrawny kid turned out to be one of the hardest working people I have ever seen in my life. I learned from him, and I'll never forget it, that everybody deserves a chance. People need help. We got to help eachother."

When I thanked him he said:
"You'll sleep well tonight. Nothing worse than thinking about selling a good animal. You don't sleep well on it." And then he was gone.

The next day I told him that milking that morning was different. "I was milking my cow", I said, "and somehow if felt entirely different and peaceful."
"I thought it would be" was all he said, "I thought of you this morning."

This was all from a man of very few words...I certainly don't have enought to tell this tale to its entirety. Suffice to say there's a cow in our barn, and on our weather vane. There's history in our fields, and absolute MARVEL in our hearts.

Sometimes it feels as if everybody else is fighting harder for our farm than we are. Sometimes that's a beautiful thing.

How to Give up on A Farm

When the first Frost comes forget the Springtime.

Listen to the people who say you have "too much on your plate."

Stop pulling on your boots with resolve.
Stop field work.
Stop milking.

Stay inside the house, in the warm kitchen thinking about how difficult it is to have to go out and do chores.

Talk only about money-namely your lack of it.

Calculate how much you are paying out for hay because you didn't get a hay crop of your own in this season. Tell yourself you deserve a new outfit more than your horses, sheep, goats, and Jersey cow and calf deserve a couple day's worth of hay.

Ignore the fact that the late chore time in the barn, after dark, after the kids are tucked in, have been some of the sweetest moments between you and your spouse. Concentrate instead on how many invitations you have had to turn down on account of Honey and Dixie and Lupe's milking hours.

Tell yourself there's not much difference between the stuff you are raising and the stuff in the store.
Speak about the struggle. Be silend about the contentment.

Ignore the fact that you feel most comfortable in your mucked up barn boots.

Stop wrestling with God. Start suspecting Him. Dabble in blame of him and anyone around you.

Convince yourself that the farm is crushing you.
Stop standing still and just looking at your field, or farm, or animals, planning out the potential, painting plans and dreams.

Fear poverty.

Stop taking it a day at a time.

Believe you are entirely alone in your desire for the farm's success.

Stop praying.
Start conceding.

See other people as opportunities rather than inspiration.

Accept a life not lived deliberately.

Do not harden your body to the elements. Tell yourself you deserve a rest. Take it.

Take a premature open grave of walking death. Tell yourself you're doing it for your kids- ignore all the good it has done for them already and take for granted all it continues to do for them and you even when the chips are down.

Pray like the ethereal and unceasing angels.
Love like a flesh and blood man.
Embrace the fact that you will be a mystery of irresponsible ridiculousness to many.
Remember the dreams of your 6 yr old youth and join in creating them with your children.
Forgo the new coat to fill the barn with hay.
Do not speak of the money, but of the moments
in the barn in the lamplight,
leaning into the soft flanks, tugging teats, filling pails, filling hours.

And even that will not be enough.

There will be a breath. A catastrophic moment on the brink of absolute loss: liquidation...

and then someone will do something. Tell a story. Give a hand. Keep a promise. Write a check.

And you will be shocked by the action of God in the small stillness of the human heart. The commerce between strangers that can occur at the cross section of an old fashioned family farm and a hell of a lot of effort. You will never be able to say: "I did it. I saved the farm" You will be ever mindful of the word: "WE."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Second Spring

We're experiencing something of a second Spring here on the farm.
On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, we awoke to excited summons issued to us all to come out to the barn...
In the lamplight a stumbling shape courted Honey's side...and there she was! A beautiful little heifer..."Mushka" is her nickname. Borrowing a page from "SARAH PLAIN AND TALL" the girls have christened her "Moonbeam". She needed a little initial help latching on...but all doubts as to her nursing abilities were abandoned upon my nestling the milking bucket beneath Honey's udders, and relieving her of a few pints of her swollen soon as the new little one sensed competition, she made swiftly for my elbow, nudging me aside so as to finish the job herself.

A week later the phone rang. A friend's friend had found a baby goat in the woods near Stillwater.
More like a pet dog, than a goat...we brought him on board in the hopes that in a few months, this little French Alpine will be able to breed our girls..."Barley Legs" has been met thus far with diffidence on the part of the resident troupe of dairy does...Honey, suspecting him of secret "dogness" has taken to pawing the ground and charging the partition whenever he pokes his darling little head through, curious about her and the calf. Maternal instincts, being sometimes necessary, other times somewhat monstrous...

The trees are dropping their leaves...the bees are going into hibernation. The new kittens in the barn are exploring nooks and crannies in the hay, and we're finding little nests in the stack of bales in the Northern corner of the barn, where the hens have made cozy corners for themselves. Every day at 3:30 the kitchen is kindled with orange light, that comes in through the windowpanes in search of my teapot. It settles on the honey jar and spoon, and little package of loose green tea and insuates things...
We're coming into the hallowed season of simply comforts. Half the potatoes are still to be unearthed from the field, and the stewing hens must still be dispatched...but in the meantime, there are inch thick pork chops to fuel us, and the antics of stumbly chumbly baby legs testing themselves in the pasture to cheer us...
I'm slowly finding my way back to pen and paper again...and the pasttime I call "thinking" is being dalleyed with once more...I'm soon to strike the balance again between pitchfork, pail, pot, and I'm hoping to post more again in coming days...
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Twice-a-Day milking

The milker in the family is the first to notice the shortening daylight. The familiar walk up to the barn, swinging the pail and calling the "girls" in becomes a path darkened with new shadows splotched with orange sunset...When our bedtime ritual has overextended itself....or when I give in to "just one more story" or "one more Scotish lullaby" I light the oil lamp and stumble over the cats on the back stoop on my way up for the evening milking. I've given up faith in battery operated flashlights. My experience with them has been similiar to my misadventures with vacuum cleaners and pick-up trucks. When they want to work, they will, when you need them, they'll fail. A barn, at milking time, by oil lamp takes on iconic hues. The curvature of the roof and rafters lit by the flickering wick could be Bethlehem or Norman Rockwell's 1940s or your Great Grandpa's hayloft. Five cats fan out beneath it, lapping up warm milk, and the sight of them, the sound of the cow at her hay, the warm orange glow and soft teats encircled in rythmic milking....the swash of the milk in the paill....all this, in a barn surrounded by black night, crickets and bullfrogs...makes for a kind of feast for the 5 senses. A riotuos buffet for ears, eyes, nose, hands...the sense of taste is content to be absent, having indulged in a Sunday dinner of raost chicken and gravy. Time on the farm is measured in quarts. It is the milking chorse that bookends the day. No matter how many harried discussions you have about how you're going to pay your hay bill or who to slaughter or sell or when to put the cover crop in, the getting up and going to milk sets it all in motion everyday-no fail. Starts you in on the farming before you can question whether you should be doing it, whethter you're any good at lean into the barrelled side of Dixie or Lupe and content in those moments on that overturned crate, you fill a pail with the warm foaming liquid proof- the "something to show for it all" reward at the beginning and end of each day...tightening the farmer's heart to the farming by bonds of sensual affection after the strange dreams of night and the struggles of the day. The cats have begun to sit, enraptured, beneath my arms and knees, watching all that white gold squirt down from the funny beasts I call goats. Every time I see them sit like that I can't help but believe that cat's understand MIRACLES. Sometimes if they're impatient for their share of the spils they'll give you a swat or two at Dixie's hind legs as if to hurry the milk machines up. Eventually, when they've had their fill, they'll splay about the barn with their swollen bellies and lick their faces lazily and watch me finish up with evident satisfaction. It's clear to them that we run a "delicious" factory, and who would ever roam away from a land flowing with delicious and honey? You would think the twice a day milking would become a tedious task, but mercifully it's anything but. In the oil lamp glow I'm daily reminded that I'm with the cats....yesterday I happened across a new mess of them in the goat's pen...Mama had given birth to a new litter of kittens, 3 of them orange tabbies. The heavy pail I tote back to the house for straining and cooling is the poem that signifies a re-filled heart renewed in the DESIRE for just staying put.

p.s. having trouble loading photos recently...stick with us folks.....

Monday, September 10, 2012


Hi Folks!

We have two pastured hog shares available now!
We have decided to butcher two of the ones we were going to overWinter in the barn...

So if you'd like to reserve your half or whole, please
send your check and contact info to:

Shane or Chiara Dowell
c/o Little Flower Farm
14707 Nason Hill Rd.
Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047

Whole: $600

Pork will be available Mid-October. They've been on pasture since arriving as little itty bitty feeders, and have reaped the benefits of herbal worming regimens. No antibiotics EVER.
We also have a few LAMBS available. They will be ready end of Sept.

Friday, August 31, 2012

"Walk up"

(week 13 Newsletter:)
of the first things that strikes you

while sitting behind the rounded rumps of two amiable horses, in a cart,
traversing an old familiar and common road is the newness of the landscape-and
the unexpected beauty of a place you’ve grown somewhat dull to and over-
accustomed with. Your eye, at that speed, can take in the full measure of the
sky and the light falling into little basins and clearings, settling into nooks
and crannies once un-noticed, now suddenly dear. You cannot ignore the effect
that a horse-paced mode of travel has on you- it brings with it sudden rushes
of delight (oh
rare and wonderful sensation!)

and beaming gratitude for all the richness that is living in a world of corn,
fat in the shock, pastures lush with clover and green, woods with slender birch
trees, leaves shimmy dancing in the breeze. People you pass do not suffer swift
judgment, but lingering and smiling observation accompanied with a grin and a
wave-so very different from the cloud of dust and exhaust that your car would
leave them with.
Pace is an important thing to consider in our lives. It can well mean the
difference between a life well-lived, children well-raised, and a life largely
missed, children abandoned to the ravages of Rush and Go and Hurry-We-Can’t –Be-Late.
A slackened pace can pick up many minutes and bind them into the bouquet of a
memorable and marvelous evening.
Nine years ago
I ran off to UCLA in a car borrowed last minute, with a friend (as eager for
ballet as I was, but unsure of the wisdom of our hell-bent venture toward
heaven), and a pocket filled with not quite enough money for a ticket to see
Suzanne Farrell’s ballet company perform many of the works she had danced in
her day as George Balanchine’s famous muse. I had the youthful, implicit,
slightly arrogant faith that so pure and so passionate a desire as mine for
that performance would not go unrewarded, and in a breathless tizzy I reached
the box office window and proceeded to beg for a deeply discounted ticket…equally
swift came the reply “I’m sorry, we’re sold out.” And as I reeled away from the
window I had absolutely no time to absorb my defeat, for a door-man came up to
me (with a much meandering pace) and mentioned he had the perfect view of my
little drama from the entrance to the lobby, and taking it all in, realize he
could be of some assistance. He held out a ticket to me and told me that woman
had given him the ticket saying her date could not make it, and that he was to
give it to the 1st person who looked like they could really use it….”so
hurry!” he cried as he finished his tale, and I ran into the theater, waving
goodbye to my friend who had pushed away the ticket when I had offered, and who
was content with the gallery….I was ushered to a seat 3 row from the stage next
to the most incredibly beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and as I sat down in the
cloud of her very expensive perfume, I marveled at the date who had not shown
up for her…the dancing was electric, exquisite, the execution flawless, the
dancers’ lines undisturbed, the night, an omage to the great work of
Balanchine, his APPOLO, the great Pas de Trois and Divertimento N. 15.
It was followed
by a rapid-fire Q and A session with the principal dancers and Suzanne Farrell
herself. “One last question” the moderator muttered into her microphone, and
suddenly, quite overcome with the emotion of the evening I found myself waving
my arms wildly, and called on. What followed was a kind of cathartic outpouring
of all my impressions of what was my very 1st ballet, and a back and
forth repartee with the dancers, asking them about particular sequences of
their dances, and their preparation and their motivation. One of my great
idols, Balanchine’s very dear Suzanne Farrell herself sat there speechless and
quiet, smiling as my exuberance exhausted itself and embarrassed the moderator.
I ended my fountainour gushing with: “Is it true that your war out you toe
shoes in a single performance? If so, can I have a pair?” The audacity and
idolatry so evident in this request, the evening was quickly closed by the
interviewer, the dancers ushered off-stage and the audience buried it in
laughter and commotion, the pace, shall we say, so hurried and unheeding was
too quick to bind the momentary passion into something more memorable than an
unusual Q and A.
But Suzanne
Farrell had not moved from her chair. She had whispered something to one of the
other dancers and was fixed on me in my seat, as the audience filed out of the
auditorium. She motioned me over, up to the stage. Needless to say I did a few
double takes and looked behind me many time, wondering if there was some
mistake. But there wasn’t. George Balanchine’s Suzanne Farrell bent down,
crouched at the edge of the stage. “Honey” she said in a slow drawl, “wait
here. We’re going to get you some shoes.”
We are living
in an unfamiliar age. As more and more of our population concentrates itself in
urban stings we lose our ties to the land. The generations that have grown up
on the farm that Mom and Dad built are aging now and rapidly passing away. We are losing touch
with that front porch/Sunday social call/barn dance pace as we lose them to
their graves. As I clutched
my toe shoes in the lobby, pink ribbons wrapped tightly around them, I became
aware of the fact that time had come to a stand still and even re-wound itself…a
crowd of old ladies pressed around me. “Your first ballet!” one of them
exclaimed, eyes twinkling as she pressed my hand and admired the shoes Suzanne
Farrell had given me at the lip of the stage. “I had almost forgotten my 1st
ballet. You reminded me of it tonight. You know, dear, I hardly feel a day over
18 just now.”
There are
things we’ve gotten used to: the can opener. Democrats. Republicans. Travel by
car. Credit cards.
But a slackened pace soon opens up for us a newfound appreciation for all those
wonderful things our prosperity has deprived us of: a landscape enjoyed and
embraced with all 5 senses, and a moment of shared delight with our fellow
human beings. There are
things that strike you while sitting in a cart, behind the rumps of two amiable
horses…like seeing an old spouse in a new dress…chief thing is this: there’s
nothing dull in this fine world….Most of it’s marvelous. “Wait here honey. We’re
going to get you some shoes.”

“Walk Up”.

SauerKraut in a Jar
Shred enough cabbage
to pack a 1 qt. jar.
Add to the ar 1 tsp
of salt and ½ tsp honey.
Fill with boiling
Screw the lid on
tightly. Store in a cool place upside down and check it every 3 days. As it ferments
the caps will bulge. Tighten lids. It will be ready to eat in 6 weeks. Store it
in the fridge for all those wonderful probiotics. SO DIVINE WITH SAUSAGES!

past few years have levied a strange burden of proof upon our backs, a burden
to account for our hours and days, to prove to all who care to watch from the screens
of their phones and computers that we are doing something worthy with our
lives. In the meantime, we have forgotten how to be content in being present.
We have not been transfixed and emptied since we first believed the lie that
all of our experiences must be shared….Let us all remember, now in the presence
of one another, that our memories are enough. May we live to remind each other
to partake of dinner without pause for a clicking shutter or a scribbling pen.
Stay here, drink more wine, and let the memories of a time exist by themselves
within you, and between you and the others. And may your art be a sincere
reflection of what already exists. Not a post of projection for what we desire.
Keep your hours close, and keep intimacy and trust closer. If we give this a
chance, we will surely realize that being present is powerful enough to burn
and consume our hearts, minds, and memories with fullness unparalleled.”

From Rebecca Parker Payne’s essay “Undocumented

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Great Melon Harvest of 2012

As the sun set, over the Western hills and Norwegian pines....the field, painted red in the glow, gleamed like a ravaged battle field.
Sweat trickled down into umentionable crevices, as wrestling with weary bodies and war-torn dreams, the couple lobbed melon after melon to eachother out of the vegetable acreage.
This great exodus, these hundreds of CRIMSON sweet watermelon and sugared cantelope, brought with it the realization of years of hopes and fruit-filled dreams.
"The bees" she muttered, whiping her dirt-stained brow, "It's the bee's and their knees...and their incredible work ethic." She chest-passed a basket-ball sized melon, he, waiting in the back of their rusty chevy, shuttered with the impact of it. He grinned weakly. The harvest was great. The workers few.Earlier that afternoon, shuttling the large globes in a kind of a relay to the edge of the field, their two little ones, ages 6 and 3 became inspired to be....flower growers. "When I grow up..." they mused, pausing between loads "I'm not going to have a vegetable garden. Just flowers. For bouquets." Great chortlings and belly laughs ensued...and than quickly died down abdominal muscles are required for hurling medicine balls across rows of vines and weeds....
2 days later, as she guiltily eyed the library, scene of all her once prolific blogging and BLAHging, Mrs. Farmer felt her ample arm gripped in enthusiastic passion:
"Those melons!" he said "I've never tasted a melon like that. Perfectly ripe, so sweet, so, so....Thank you. Thank you for those." And with that he plastered a smile on her face that has not dimmed as of this writing. More later, folks.