When a door opens

When a door opens, we walk through. Sometimes, we run.

On a small diversified farm, it happens all the time. After weeks of rain and cold nights, the weather breaks. Days are warm and sunny and the wind blows the moisture out of the topsoil. Just when the ground seems dry enough to work, we see clouds on the horizon. One hundred percent chance of rain, tomorrow. The door is open, and we hustle. To clear ground, make beds ready, plant whatever needs planting. We have to move when the time is right. There’s no telling when it will happen. Our senses must be awake to possibility, to necessary timing.

Now, in the near-Spring, we’re waiting for the heaviness of moisture and cold to lift and make room for the life of new plants. As we approach summer, we’ll be scrambling through a different door; hoeing and mulching in preparation for the extreme heat and dryness of the mid-season.

Days this week, I’ve walked through the garden looking for something new and interesting to serve at mealtime and heard the sounds of life in the soil. Tiny noises of moisture and growth. Earthworms and probably a fair amount of cutworms are beginning to move around below. Herbs that re-seeded themselves are emerging. Catnip scattered itself far and wide. Maybe the cat helped.

catnipChamomile grew tall in the shade last spring, then toppled into the radish bed. There are some nice starts there. I will watch for them when I go out with the rake, making way for the season to come.chamo2

Ever since we landed on this sweet piece of land, we’ve been dancing with the balance of how to live and raise our family here. The Man Around Here and myself have regularly worked away from our land, as well as on it.  There’s plenty of room to make a good Life here, and just barely enough to make a Living. For six years, we worked with a wonderful group of families and friends in Cookeville, as a Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA). We started small, but soon found that the size of our CSA was limited by our arable land base. There’s a little more space around here that might be made workable, but it’s seasonally wet. Right now, water pours down the slopes. (The Man tinkers with growing rice.) So, to be good stewards of both our farm and our family, we’ve supplemented by engaging our other talents (therapeutic bodywork and yoga) in the local community and patched together a livelihood that agrees with us.

The problem with working away from the land, even in a very part-time way, is that we can easily miss the season’s briefly opened doors of good working opportunity. It’s often been a challenging dance, and we’ve sometimes wondered in the past couple years if we were on the right track. This year, we agreed. As we learned in the garden, you have to be attentive to the world around you if you’re going to see the open door and get through it in time. Could be, we’ve been too wrapped in our current work to see other possibilities. It was sad and scary to call off the CSA this year. We have shared some good time with the Cookeville community and will miss seeing our friends there so regularly.greenhouse

With the gentle opening of Spring upon us, we are reassured. Our time in the garden is not ending. In fact, it may be enhanced. We’re released from the pressure to produce however many heads of lettuce and tons of tomatoes each and every week. We have room to do nice rotations, save more seeds with better isolation, and specialize on our strengths. We will grow way too big a garden, and maintain a few local customers, feed friends and family, and put up plenty to feed us all year round.

Then the door flew open. Our yoga teacher called for the Man, inviting him to come assist with a yoga teacher training. That’s what he was doing when I met him, going on eleven years ago. He has spent years in this study; he’s a good and knowledgeable instructor, and this is an opportunity for him to work with his teacher, and his peers, again. This is an opportunity to reconnect with a community that was once very dear to us. It’s not a community based on soil and proximity, as we enjoy here, but we share it’s principals, and appreciate the intelligence and integrity of our friendships within. We didn’t see it coming. It’s not a direction we would have thought of. It’s like a surprise flush of strawberries at the end of September. It means two weeks away from home, which would have been impossible if we were trying to make the CSA happen this year. We took a deep breath, and walked through.door2

When the sun warms the deck and the door stands open, the children run out. No telling what they will encounter out there. There a frisky roosters, cold streams, and lots of rocks. They will return with muddy knees and scrapes and bruises of unknown origin. But those things never stop them from missing the opportunity. I’m grateful to be older than I once was, to be a mother, and a grower, a deep breather, and a lover of life. After these years of making a home and a Life, it’s a sweet reward to learn the same lessons again and again in different packaging. We will miss that Man when he is away from home, but we will not miss the open door.

5 thoughts on “When a door opens

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