same planet, different world

lotus picture

out of my element, but having a fine time.

When saints speak, it’s good to listen.  Here’s one thing Mother Teresa said:

“If you judge people you have no time to love them.”

So I remembered this over and over as I moved through the airport with all the security upgrades that I haven’t been paying attention to in the past 11 years (since my last flight).

I am not a fish out of water.  I am just another person on an airplane.airplane

That was my other mantra, of sorts.  Realizing that, though life is precarious at 28,000 feet in the air, it is also perfectly mundane.

I had a catch in my throat when I saw a plane lift off the runway. But the crowds at the airport were reassuring.  We participate in this madness together.  Somehow, it works.  These things I say to myself, imagining a smooth landing in Miami.

It is immensely beautiful to see the world from nearly 6 miles up.  The tiny white crescent of sand on the coast, cast white by the sun.  The Gulf waters shiny and still, or so they look from up there.airplane 2

How remarkable, that we, the hairless, slow, defenseless specks of creatures born with so little protection, without even being able to hold our heads on straight – WE have manipulated our environment this much.  We fly without wings.  We fly from the power of our minds.

On the way to airport, I listened to NPR, tuning into the political circus taking place in the USA right now, and from 5 miles high, it really made me think about humanity and all our works.  What is it all for?

Airplanes don’t last.  Buildings don’t last.  Even great art lasts only for awhile, in geologic time.  Our lives are certainly short.  All I can think of that could possibly matter is love.airplane 1

Every candidate out there will claim to love this country, and that’s great.  Some will claim to love minorities or farmers or other segments of population characteristic of the working poor.  And they are probably telling the truth by their own standards.  But here’s what I’m observing – love begets love.  I’m not talking about romantic love here of course.  I’m talking about big LOVE, agape, or from the eastern side, bodhicitta – the up-welling of the heart with goodness toward ALL.

When that sort of LOVE is present in a person, it is reflected in their actions, and in the action of the people around them.  And LOVE isn’t always sweet and lovely.  Its forms are as variable and diverse as our fingerprints.  Parents all know this.  We scold our children and correct them, not even always gently, but our corrections are made with LOVE.  The fruit of this LOVE is recognizable as goodness, positivity, fairness and compassion.  Even in shows of great strength, there will be a basic goodness.home lulah

LOVE is an attractive force.  It’s something to watch for.

And THAT, my friends, is what this little farmwife was doing on an airplane to Miami.  I left my hearth and home, all that I have grown and cared for over the past decade, for the sake of love, and I was rewarded with the obvious – MORE love.

My dear friend of twenty years (or more) just weathered a big life transition.  As difficult as it was to observe, being there is part and parcel of true friendship, and the longer we live the more obvious that becomes.  I am grateful now to have borne witness to her process, as she has maintained such integrity, and now she is beginning to emerge in a glorious and graceful way.  And in her emergence from the thick of it, she invited a bunch of us, her friends of near and far, to be with her for a weekend in southern Florida.  How could I not go?

There were about a dozen women who carved out time for the get-away.  One of them was another close friend.  Another I had met before.  The others I had only heard about over the years.  It was such a wonderful event.  Totally worth the strangeness of the plane ride.

It was wonderful to spend such concentrated time loving our mutual friend.  We all shared a deep appreciation for her, as she is, and together, we were able to really give her that deep-woman-friend-love that is so necessary at certain turning points.  I hope you know what I mean, because it’s difficult to explain unless you have experienced it.

It was also completely astonishingly wonderful to meet so many GREAT women all in one place.  I could so easily have spent a day talking to each and every one of them.  Each so different, but each beautifully unique in intelligence and experience and that golden key – basic goodness.  It doesn’t happen every day to meet so many enjoyable people at one time, you know?  I am grateful to know these women, not just in my friend’s life, but in my own now, too.group picture

Oh, and the spa was pretty nice.  Lying by the water in a swimsuit was awesome.  Hot tubs and saunas are alright by me, too, once in awhile.  The quinoa banana avocado pineapple smoothie with pistachio nuts, dried cranberries, and coconut?  All I can say is WOW.

But the best part?  You know what I’m going to say.  You know it’s true.  LOVE.

The flight home was wretchedly bumpy.  Everyone was pale as the plane circled through the clouds and down onto the Nashville runway, but but it was good to look down and see the bare trees, the open fields.  So much space we have here.airplane tennessee

I was a tired mess by the time I got back to the house.  There were still little piles of snow along the road on the deepest parts of the hollow.  It only took a few minutes to change back into my old wool sweater, my stained and ripped camo pants.  I walked around with the goats and collected the eggs with the funny feeling that I had just stepped back home from another world.  Not a bad world, just a different one.  There is no bad world as long as there is love.home where i belong

forwarding the fowl

IMGP1799My boy is a chicken fanatic. I know I’ve mentioned that many times before but I’m saying it again now: Ira loves chickens. At this point in his chicken-fancying career, he seems most intrigued by the many different (especially rare) breeds of chickens that are available. He likes to place a big chick order from a hatchery each year. Then, once those chicks have matured, he likes to let all of those strange varieties of chickens cross-breed with one another and set the eggs in his incubator or under a broody hen, just to see what the outcome will be. He says he wants to invent a new breed of chicken and I don’t doubt him. Some of the resulting chickens have been quite strange, indeed. Most of the time, I don’t think his cash outlay gets recouped, unless you take into consideration the entertainment/enjoyment factor, which certainly has its own merit. Especially since we don’t go out to movies or buy a bunch of video games to keep the kiddos occupied. Having activities on the homestead that the children are passionate about, and can learn valuable lessons from, is hard to put a price tag on. IMGP1774In our own chicken rearing, Eric and I have always tended to favor old-fashioned heavy breeds of chickens that lay a consistent supply of eggs. Selling eggs at our market has always been a source of cash-flow for us… some years certainly more lucrative than others, depending a lot on the local fox and hawk population. We can proudly say that our style of chicken rearing produces one mighty fine egg. Arguably one of the best eggs you can acquire. Plus, what the chickens do for the pasture, under our rotational grazing system, is incredible (which is another benefit that is hard to put a value on). For the most part, we enjoy keeping chickens and we certainly enjoy gourmet omelets.

But, sometimes, unexpected things happen. LIke a broken leg. Or maybe an unplanned pregnancy. Or a father-in-law enduring cancer treatments. Sometimes all of these things collide and leave a person feeling winded and over the top.

And then sometimes… sometimes we reach a breaking point and something’s got to give. Sometimes, we have to stop beating our heads against the wall and make a change. Don’t we all know that sometimes change is a blessing?

Over the weekend, Eric and I sold our flock of about 100 laying hens to a fellow farmer.(Thankfully, a sweet farming family that were thrilled to find organically produced, pasture-raised, very healthy hens. I know our hens will be well cared for.) We just had to let something go. It was the first big step in lessening our chore load right now. We can always get more chickens, and I’m sure we will again someday. But as it was going, that one more chore might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.IMGP1773Then, there are those moments we suddenly see what was a burden turning into an opportunity. A win-win situation developing from a severe headache. Or… killing two birds with one stone if you would rather. We have a child that currently has eighty-some-odd young chickens of his own. Eighty-some chickens that are getting bigger and bigger and requiring more and more space to range. We always raise our chicks down around our homestead for the ease of caring for them, but as soon as they are big enough, they get moved up on the hill to the pasture where there is more than enough space. Down in the hollow, our space is quite limited and eighty-ish chickens quickly learn that the outdoor kitchen is a great source for all kinds of treats. Like the shiny perfect tomatoes that were intended for our lunch. Or the melons in bins that might have made their way to our freezer for winter smoothies. Or the cat’s food. Have you seen the resulting mess when a whole slew of chickens have a gorge-fest? Have you ever had to clean that resulting mess up out of your kitchen? Gross. Ira’s chickens were driving me so crazy that I’m afraid to admit that I threatened the use of the shotgun as an option in curbing their errant behavior. (You know I’m only kidding, right?) What I wound up doing was having Ira put a net fence around our outdoor kitchen to prevent his chickens from walking freely into that space. Not perfect, but better than the shotgun. Also understand that my patience might be slightly more compromised than usual as I am seven months pregnant, it’s ninety-five degrees each day with no A/C and I can’t get relief from swims in the creek because I have a broken leg and a hot-as-hell cast. IMGP1781With all of this said, our light bulb moment came when we realized that liquidating our flock would not only lessen a chore and put a little cash in our pockets, but would leave our coops vacant and available to a little boy and his fledgling chicken operation. (This also results in no more chickens in my kitchen!!!) So that’s just what we did. Ira immediately moved his flock up to our coops in the pasture and has officially taken over the Bugtussle poultry operation. In exchange for the use of the coops, feeder, fencing, guardian dog, guardian geese, and solar charger he just has to manage his birds according to our standards (with a little help from Papa, I’m sure) and give us some eggs to eat once his chickens start laying. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Oksi is even excited about her new charges...

Oksi is even excited about her new charges…

 

on time

“You cannot step in the same river once.” ~ Chuang Tzu (maybe)time view

The weather has changed again.

After so many days of the children running outside barefoot, talking about Spring.  After a roof and walls went up on the outbuilding so large I think we could almost move into it.  After surveying the damage of the last big freeze and being very grateful to still have some kale.  After days of sun and wind and hawks and owls calling in the big trees.

We woke to the sound of drizzling rain.

The weather bounces like a yoyo.  Or maybe it’s a boomerang.  There’s a chance of snow tonight.  I welcome it, having known through those balmy days that Winter was still underneath it all.

Welcoming the change seems the best option, now and always.

The seasons unroll themselves, cresting at times in wonderful moments of full expression, then dipping back into shadows or shades of the season behind, or to come.

time childrenSort of like children.  We watch them crawl out of their baby fat.  They spring up like weeds, trying on every characteristic in their genetic code as they grow, amazing and challenging and delighting us all at once.  Just when a behavior seems to have arrived to stay, it is gone again.  Like the open toothless smile of an infant, so fleeting.  One of the perks of being a mother, for sure, is to still be able to see the baby inside the person who grows out of it.

And I see myself in them too, as I was or might have been.  I see in them fragments, gestures, flashes of who I am, and have been.  They are not me, and I am not them, but we are present in each other in a way that, though constant, always changes.

It helps remind me of who I might be now, too. (It is all too easy to lose track of myself – a sense of myself – in the care of feeding of a family.)

There, in the old photos, I recognize the baby, the little girl, the young woman.  I remember being her, sometimes.

time high school

What is it that holds together all these people we have been?

Time.

Slippery substance, mostly of our own creation, that one.  But there it is, running through the seasons, through the years, stringing clouds, rain, sun, days, nights, laughter, anger, tears and hugs all together in an endless beaded string.

Some days, I have a rough ball of clay to thread onto that string as it passes.  Other days, there is a delicate iridescent pearl.  Both add texture and depth to the un-finishable creation of life.

The big question is – what will we do with our precious time on this drizzly winter day?time shadows