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

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

 

 

cinderella memorandum

cinderella blog 1Goodness knows I could stand to write about planting potatoes right now, but we’re still shaking off post-production whiplash from Lulah’s fifth performance run with the local high school theater group. We are so proud of her. It was great. The songs are still rolling around in my head all day. The experience of live theater really sticks to my ribs.

The Spring 2016 show was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I had never heard of it before, but we quickly got up to speed by watching the (rather ancient) movie version starring a very young Julie Andrews as Cinderella. Lulah has had a long-standing aversion to the Disney cartoon Cinderella, even though she’s never seen the movie, so we were relieved to find that the musical version was quite a bit more spunky and fun than the sappy sweet Disney. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that the Rodgers and Hammerstein version had been “updated” with a new sub-plot involving a political fire-brand who falls in love with one of Ella’s step-sisters and convinces Ella to tell the prince (the charmingly clueless Prince ‘Topher) that his people were being treated unfairly. In the end, Cinderella is not only escorted out of squalor and oppression and into Queen-dom, she also carries her people with her and convinces her true love to establish a democracy. (Wow, right?)cinderella 6cinderella ten minutes ago 2

The kids are so gorgeous. They throw themselves into the show and transport us into a suspended reality. For those hours, we believe them in their characters, in their sincerity, and their hilarity. And then, after the curtain call, we see them return to themselves, but still in fancy costume. They have such wonderful vitality. They are beautiful in so many ways.

cinderella grand entrance

cinderella blog 2Watching the show, night after night, I began to wonder about my own personal sub-plot in the drama of this High School Theater group. Why am I so mesmerized by the activity of the show? Something happens to me when the lights go up on that stage. Seeing those fresh faces, teetering on the brink of adulthood, takes me back.

And the truth is, looking back is not a completely comfortable experience. I remember some of the thrill of BEing where they are now. I remember the small sea of faces in the audience – trying not to be TOO obvious about seeking out my loved ones – letting the months of rehearsal, memorization, repetition, flow through me. I remember the magic of performance as art. And I remember being a contradictory teenage bundle of energy, bravado, and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong – it was a great time. But in the midst of all that fun stuff, I never believed that I was enough. I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or strong enough. I didn’t let on about my perceived insufficiencies much, but I held onto them inside. (The way so many of us do.)

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Watching the stage, feeling my heartstrings plucked, it becomes obvious that I was plenty beautiful, smart, and strong, just like they are now. I don’t know if I would have listened to anyone telling me that I really was sufficient, for myself, and for the task ahead of growing up. But I can’t help wishing that I had felt a little more comfortable in my own skin (I had nice skin, but I didn’t know it then.). The past has passed.

There’s always room for greater peace, though, and that’s what washes over me in the aftermath of the show. By opening my heart to these kids – my own, as well as all the others I am fortunate enough to meet in our community – I have the opportunity to make peace with my old demons of insecurity and self-doubt. Watching these young people at play and at work on this show, has helped me remember myself as I was, and extend the affection I feel for the kids towards that (rather grumpy and critical) memory of myself at their age. When I am able to look into my past with greater compassion and affection, I become more capable of loving my life as it IS, right now. What a gift.

cinderella fairy god mother hug

In return, I hope to add my voice to the multifaceted cultural message these young folks are absorbing as they move toward maturity, because the Disney storyline doesn’t work for a lot of us, and it’s good to have options. Here I am, long enough past adolescence and early adulthood to be irrelevant, strange, or maybe a little wise. I guess it’s up to them to decide.

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These days, my voice travels to the next generation primarily in the context to being a mother – mostly, Lulah’s mother. My best bet is to embrace and enjoy my post for all it’s worth. And so I am… Lulah’s mother who doesn’t wear make up and refuses to color over the gray in her hair. Lulah’s mother who drives the muddy car. Lulah’s mother who brings a ball of wool and a crochet hook to rehearsal. Lulah’s mother, who insists that it’s good for you to stand on one foot and breathe. Lulah’s mother, who wants you to touch your toes, drink more water, bend your knees, AND relax. Lulah’s mother who wants you to be yourself, and believe in yourself as much (or more) than the rest of us believe in you. Lulah’s mother may be a little batty, and maybe that’s alright.

cinderella the shoe does not fit

But my aim is true. I want them to experience for themselves that they ARE sufficiently beautiful, strong and smart, that they are just as wonderful as they dream themselves to be, and also that they have so much farther to go. I want them to have confidence to walk into the world around them, not as masters, but as students of LIFE, because the best masters also stay students.

Life is full of foibles. I may not succeed in my heart-felt effort to inspire greater confidence in personal goodness in the next generation, but having seen the possibility for myself, in myself – I have to try.

So, thanks kids, for the great show, for doing some yoga with me, and for being your beautiful selves. Please – carry on. Keep singing. You are on a roll – don’t stop growing!

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May your shoes always fit!cinderella the shoe fits