As a child, I loved to read poetry. Shel Silverstein was favorite of mine and many of his poems I could recite without a second thought. But in these past years of revisiting his poetry through reading it to my own children, new favorites have emerged for me. Poems that I didn’t fully “get” as a child, but enjoyed for their rhythm and rhyming, now have a whole new clarity to my adult self. This one in particular, from Where the Sidewalk Ends, hits the nail on the head for me:
Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond,
Grew himself a garden the likes of none.
Sprouts all growin’, comin’ up glowin’,
Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun.
Colors of the rainbow,
See the sun and rain grow
Sapphires and rubies on ivory vines,
Grapes of jade, just
Ripenin’ in the shade, just
Ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine.
Pure gold corn there,
Blowin’ in the warm air,
Ol’ crow nibblin’ on the amnythyst seeds.
In between the diamonds, ol’ man Simon
Crawls about pullin’ out platinum weeds.
Pink pearl berries,
All you can carry,
Put ’em in a bushel and
Haul ’em into town.
Up in the tree there’s
Opal nuts and gold pears-
Hurry quick, grab a stick
And shake some down.
Take a silver tater,
Fresh plump coral melons
Hangin’ in reach.
Ol’ man Simon,
Diggin’ in his diamonds,
Stops and rests and dreams about
One… real… peach.
Poor ol’ man Simon… he had all the riches and wealth of jewels and gold, but he didn’t have real sustenance growing in his garden. Offer me the choice between a diamond or a ripe peach (without pesticides, thank you) and see which one I can’t resist! (Hint… I’ll be needing a napkin.)
I wouldn’t trade this rustic, agrarian, life for any amount of money (or jewels). Maybe my schooling and training as an architect could have landed me a lucrative job and financial security. But maybe not. And I’ll never know now because that was not the path I chose. I do know, however, that I feel incredibly wealthy in this chosen life without having an incredible cash-flow. For me, the richness of my life here on the farm cannot be measured by mere dollars in the bank. While, yes, we do need the cash to keep flowing to keep the bills quiet, cash is not the final destination for us. Our objective is a rich life. Eric and I joke (but know that it’s true) that we live like kings and queens. After morning chores and breakfast this morning, we sat in our pavilion (outdoor kitchen) for our daily “meeting”. We talked about our day while sipping hot coffee laden with rich cream, hot tea for little Livi. The air was noticeably cool for a June morning. The magical song of the wood thrush was our only interruption, and we were happily distracted by the beauty of that song. Eric said, “I’m so glad I’m not stuck in rush-hour traffic right now.” No kidding. Me too.
We appreciate our days and what we are given. We feel blessed to have found a way to make ends meet while getting to spend our days with our children and (literally) eating the fruit of our labors. Most of the time, there are countless tasks left undone. And the days are not always easy, either… In fact, they are often messy and dirty and exhausting. But what fun would easy all of the time be, anyhow? We all need a good challenge now and again!
Along the lines of what I am getting at here in this brief post, there is a new book coming out that I am eager to read: Saved: How I quit worrying about money and became the richest guy in the world. The author, Ben Hewitt, is a fellow farmer in the northeastern U.S. (Obviously, he is also a writer.) I’ve read several of his articles and really appreciate his often hilarious writing style and feel a kinship with his manner of living, despite having never met him personally. His new book sounds like it would be right up my alley. Maybe you would enjoy it, too…