Monday, March 10, 2008

Settling Into Spring

With all of the hullabaloo that accompanies moving, it amazed me how quickly I settled into my new home. By 5 pm Monday I had unpacked my boxes, reassembled my bed, and hung my first load of laundry on the line behind our house. This is home to me now, the latest in a long line of habitations both transient and enduring.

Would that it were so easy to take on the skills of a farmer! After Tuesday's downpour, today was my first day of real work and I've already identified my goals for the year: to develop a farmer's instinct for efficiency and eye for detail. If I can come away in November with these two skills, I will have mastered the soul of farming even if the finer points of ten year crop rotations still escape me. Every action, so I am learning, can be improved upon--from the way I slip my harvesting knife beneath the soil as we cull spinach in the field, to the almost mechanical rhythm with which we water the seedlings in the greenhouse. This is not a Buddhist meditation upon being present in everything you do, however ("washing the dishes mindfully"), this is a constant, almost Calvinistic striving for improvement. And yet it is not as strict a discipline as I make it sound; it is the natural counterpart to accepting Nature's changeability. You do what you can to maximize the day you have been given. You harvest spinach; you water tomato seedlings; you read Anne Sexton in the evening as the earth breathes out the midday sunshine.

from "It Is a Spring Afternoon"

Because of this
the ground, that winter nightmare,
has cured its scores and burst
with green birds and vitamins.
Because of this
the trees turn in their trenches
and hold up little rain cups
by their slender fingers.
Because of this
a woman stands by her stove
singing and cooking flowers.
Everything here is yellow and green.

-Anne Sexton

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