a fire, a dinner, a clean house and the love of a community

Some of you may already have heard that our barn burned to the ground in the wee hours of Wednesday July 13th. the building was full to the tier poles of our farm and family’s necessities, it was a sobering moment to see it aflame.fireIn the minutes and hours and days that followed we walked in circles to find direction and muster up the energy to carry on. I loathe to admit, but i really have to, when i first looked at the burnt remains of the farm truck and the shell of our main barn, my initial thought was ” I can not do this”. I am far too busy already, my resources felt pretty darn scarce just yesterday, and heck, it’s the middle of July!! truckfire

and then life keeps going, nothing stops.  there are mouths to feed and squash to pick and flowers blooming. my family and community mobilized immediately. the outpouring of love and support forced me to count my blessings, rather than my losses,right away. we are fine. there was nothing, absolutely nothing, housed in that barn that can’t be bought again. Our livestock was on the other side of the farm, no lives were lost, no irreplaceable objects burnt. truly, despite this tragedy, i am so lucky.smilequickly saturday arrived. as with every other saturday over the past 17 years, we loaded the van and headed to the metro nashville farmers market. a long and exhausting day in the best of times, this trip was epic. friends and supporters swarmed us with help and gifts of all kinds. we were enveloped with the love of a community in a way that words can’t describe. 1q

 

i came home to a house that had been scrubbed. clean, as in really clean. my three children, who offer me plenty of opportunity to gripe, showed the best of themselves on that long saturday. settling in on a couch not covered in books and toys to sip a tea made on a clean kitchen counter. i actually had nothing to complain about. then came a knock on the door. it was our neighbors with a delivery:  a three course meal fresh out of the oven. friends,  i have been waiting for 17 years of saturdays for someone to have dinner waiting for me after the 16 hour market day! i guess i’m sorry it took a barn fire to have a clean house and a home cooked meal awaiting,  but what a delight.123

i hope this post offers each of you the opportunity to see the phoenix rising from the ashes. i have created a gofundme campaign to help us recoup our losses as we try and navigate rough rebuilding terrain. i remain surrounded by hope and light despite this loss. thanks y’all. xo

not people

As I was picking blackberries this morning, I was startled by a little snake.  She was suspended in the blackberry thicket, maybe finding the air more pleasant than the wet ground, maybe hunting the frogs that inhabit the ditch below the berries.  For just a moment, I was an Eve – thinking about fruit, but temporarily captivated by the beauty of this creature, her slender muscularity, the elegance of the racing stripes down her back.  I reached out to touch her smooth scales and she slipped away.  The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has long been among us.

snake

this isn’t her, but a beauty nonetheless.

*

Outside our bathroom window there is log where the skinks and lizards sit to catch some morning light.  A young one, with a bright blue tale, creeps out to bask for a moment.  The moment is brief because an older skink, twice the size of its kin, emerges and chases away the freshie.

*

kids 2After the excitement of the birth of our first goat kids here, we were astonished to find that the mama goats want nothing to do with each other’s kids.  If anything, they appear disdainful of them.  Given the chance, they butt them or nip the little one’s tails if they come too close.  We have even witnessed the does go out of their way to jostle the other’s kid while it was nursing.

What kind of survival tactic is this, we wonder?  Surely the herd would thrive if they were kind to one another’s offspring?

It’s disappointing.

It’s also a little bit terribly poignant.

*

elder flowerThe national and international news reel of the past couple weeks has been brutal.  I feel bruised at the soul every time I turn on the radio.  This is a reminder – the concept of humanity as a unity – the concept that we are all HUMAN and more alike than not – is a relatively new concept.  And it is fragile.

I’ve never had a problem with thinking of humans as animals.  We are animals with extraordinary brains, however, and it’s obvious that we have intellectual and spiritual potential beyond many (I won’t say all) of the creatures with which we share the world.  Surely we need not be bound by the same blind territorial instincts as our relatives.  I can only hope and pray that enough of us, striving against our lower instincts, can hold a peace.

Fear and Greed, and the Anger and Violence that abet their motives, are our enemies,           not people.

 

transformation

“Change can change back. (We can go from conservative to liberal, from disciplined to undisciplined…) Change is volatile. Transformation is completely different – though sometimes it is called change. Transformation never makes the past wrong. It transforms it. It doesn’t deny it. It honors it in a way that you can move forward without making anything wrong, and having the past somehow now become complete, rather than wrong. Transformation has a permanence to it – where once you transform, once you awaken, once you see the stations you didn’t see before, you can’t go back. Transformation has the ultimate power of time, and what the world is crying for now is transformation, not necessarily more change, though some change may be a part of it, the route to transformation. Transformation suddenly makes the past make sense, and new futures open up.” ~ Lynne Twistcomet and hickory

Our two goats birthed healthy kids in the past 10 days.  There’s nothing like birth to illustrate the power of transformation.  comet and pepper

Pepper the goat, who came to us as a sweet little kid about a year ago, is now an attentive and worried mother.  The bulge that has slowly grown in her belly over the past five months is now a perfectly beautiful little doe (Comet Wood).  Our other mama goat, Annie, had an equally beautiful, but much larger, buckling (HickoryNut White).hickory portrait

I can’t watch those births, and the growth of those kids, without thinking of our (human) processes, as well.  I remember my children as sweet little bald-headed toothless infants.  They have transformed into walking, running, bike riding, sweaty-headed children with opinions and talents all their own.  And they are far from complete.  Day by day they will grow into adolescents and adults, and if they (we) are so fortunate, they will have children of their own and even become elderly.

We have all been many people, haven’t we?  Most of us cannot remember being infants, and we cannot know exactly who we will become as we continue to age.  We are capable of great change, great transformation, one breath, one heartbeat at a time.

Is transformation ever complete, or never complete?  I suspect the latter.mother and child

The continuum is evident in the garden.  I’ve been watching the garden with different eyes this year, knowing it will be our last growing season at this little homestead.  Twelve years ago, when we landed here, the land, the soil, was rough.  It was hard growing.  With our care and effort and loving attention, the land has transformed.  We can grow a beautiful garden here now, and there’s still room for improvement.  As we come to the point of finding a new steward for this place, I will be seeking someone who will continue to apply the loving care necessary to keep the transformation moving in a positive direction.

Here’s the thing.  I won’t pretend that all transformation is positive, because it isn’t.  People neglect and abuse their land, and what was a once a pretty nice place transforms into a washed out and infertile wasteland.  When people fail to nurture, love, and provide for their children, those children have a harder time making a healthy transformation into the full bloom of adulthood. We be will all be transformed, whether we are paying attention to the process or not.  And we all take part in the transformation of ourselves and those near to us.  lulah and comet

I think it is one of the special gifts of being human, the choices we have in our own transformation.  And though we are deeply swayed by the forces of instinct and hormones, we are not completely ruled by them.  We can allow the bumps, jostles, and upheavals of life harden our hearts and minds, or not.  We can, do, and shall overcome. It is up to us to make our transformations healthy and positive.

It brings me joy to watch the new goat kids stretch in the morning light.  Their skinny newborn bellies are already fattening up with their mama’s good milk.  The garden, soft and  wet with rain is stretching upward toward the swelling moon.  Our children, bursting with the excitements of summer, berries and creek time and fireflies and all, seem to be growing taller and more full in themselves each day.  Joy is a transformative power.  Taking joy in all these growing lives, these transformations are also mine.  I share them with you, so they can be yours too.

I hope you will go find (or make) some more goodness, and share it.  comet and levon