There are some longstanding and deeply held, but rarely spoken, beliefs common among people who live close to the land.
One of these beliefs is that there’s always enough. Robin is illustrating it right now in her kitchen posts, as she copes with a lack of tomatoes. Even if one crop fails, something else will fill the gap. And maybe the crop doesn’t fail ALL the way. You glean, stretch it; make it work. And it does work, because there’s always just enough.
Similarly, we understand that we will be given what we need. It probably won’t land in our laps, and it might not look the way we imagined it. We’ll most likely have to work for it, but whatever it is we really need will be made available in some form or another. Part of our job is to recognize what is being given.
There’s not much we’ve lacked this year in the garden. Plenty of tomatoes, nice melons, pretty lettuce, too many summer squash, and beautiful peppers. Our eggplant have been weak, and green beans have flat out failed to thrive, but I’m not complaining. We have what we need, and there’s enough and plenty to share.
I’m being reminded of this code of homesteading beliefs for a different reason right now. In the thick of this late summer frenzy of harvest and fall planting, house-tending, homeschooling, and food preservation, it has proven a challenge to meet my emotional needs in the long process of grief. I’m walking new ground inside myself. Losing a parent, even when one has double parents, is an initiation. I’m learning what so many of my friends already have endured. It reminds me of becoming a parent. No matter what anyone tries to tell you about the impact of that birth, it’s a surprise. No one can really prepare you. You just have to step into it and learn as you go.
And as I go, I’m being given exactly what I need. The vivaciousness and hilarity of my children, the solidity of my Fellow Man, the rhythm of our daily lives are a comfort to me, but in these extraordinary circumstances, there was another need to be met. I couldn’t have named it.
The so-called “Fambly Reunion” was scheduled way back in June or July. One of my deep sister-friends from college was coming back to make her home in Louisville, KY – near enough to reach, and she invited not just “us” but a whole SLEW of “us” to come warm her new home and enjoy each others’ company.
I nearly ditched. I was so sad, so busy, and feeling so terribly far behind that it seemed impossible to get away. But the deep desire to see my friends and meet the children they’ve made since we last got together overwhelmed the rest of my excuses, and we went for it.
It was exhausting, exhilarating, wonderful, and just plain great to spend some time with people who knew me back in those wild tender experimental years of college. I flowed into those hours with them and relished the way we have all grown, and stayed the same.
Upon checking email when we arrived home, there was another blast from the past waiting for me. Alan and I were both raised in the Tennessee back hills during the tumultuous seventies. We’ve kept in touch, off and on, sometimes via our folks, and sometimes visiting his home in Tallahassee or random stops with mutual friends in Boulder Colorado. It had been about 15 years since our last visit. He and his family were traveling in the area, so they stopped in for a brief stay.
Our sons were less than 1/2 year apart in age. Two curly blond headed boys shared (mostly) their trucks and race cars. Levon overcame his fear of the swing set slide after he watched River have so much fun on it. Next morning, we heard the sweet sound of a two year old giggling in the tent in the yard. Levon jumped out of bed, popped his head behind the curtain to look out and fairly hollered, “Wiver’s waughing!”
There was a lot to catch up on, but in some ways the details didn’t matter. We puzzled a little over our early childhood memories – one’s remembrances are often so different from the others’, and between the two we can sometimes see the larger tapestry of our lives more clearly. Short and sweet. It was a satisfying visit that left me, again, grateful for old friends.
Then, it was time for a Radical Farmwives meeting. But Cher was slammed with vacation preparations. Oh my. We can’t blame her for bailing out. But what a treat we had anyhow. Christy Korrow was in town. I’ve been blessed to know some really wonderful farmwives, and Christy just about tops the charts. Really.
I remember meeting her when I was probably just in my late teens. She and her family ran a small farm in the wild outback of Kentucky. They were biodynamic growers – solar powered homesteaders – CSA pioneers – homeschoolers of two beautiful girls – they had it all. And at the time, I had none of it. Christy knew me when I was flying around by the seat of my pants in the world, and she invited me for wonderful dinners, after which the lovely girls would play with my hair and take silly pictures. They listened when I played my sad songs on guitar. I didn’t intern with them, I just loved them and enjoyed the heck out of whatever time we spent together, and continued to over the years. The Korrows walk their talk. Christy is one of the original Radical Farmwives.
A few years ago, they packed up and headed out across the whole continent to make a new home on the West Coast. By then, I was deeply involved in the work of our land and home and not doing much out-and-about socializing, but their move felt like a loss to the surrounding community. They have been missed.
But they’ve been thriving, and those of us who love them can see it plainly, and appreciate the sight.
It was during that visit, that tea time with Robin and Christy, chatting about biodynamic farms, the ebb and flow of the season and work, that I felt what I hadn’t known I needed being fulfilled again. By plan, and by happenstance, I have spent time in the past few weeks with people who have known me for a long time. Longer than my children and husband, even. Though there is not the degree of everyday intimacy with these people that I share with my family, being with those old friends, all of them, has helped to remind me about who I am and who I have been. I can draw from those qualities, some of them get forgotten in the everyday hustle, and use them to endure the challenges of the day.
I’m so grateful for these folks. To have them in my life, after all this time, is a comfort and a joy. It proves up, again and again, that we have enough, when we have each other, and we have what we need, when we have love.