it’s about time

cavernWhat is time?  What is time for?

The measurement of a breath, the space between breaths.

Sleeping, waking, toil, and play.

The passage of a season in planting, tending, harvesting, and preservation.

The celebration of birthdays, holidays, moments of intensity.

The currency of our lives.

In the time it took for me to mulch my tomatoes, a family of sparrows hatched and fledged from an abandoned harvest basket on our porch.  The sparrows and I were busy with the same work – toiling with the materials at hand in an effort to feed our families.  The sparrow children grew up faster than ours, though some days, it feels like it may have just been a week ago that ours were born, too.cute kids

Time stretches and contracts.  It is constant but not consistent.

Once I heard my Tibetan Buddhist friends say that time is our own creation.

They weren’t talking about creation in the Biblical sense, of dividing the day and night. They were talking, as they often did, about perception, and our perception of time. In this age, when busy-ness is glorified and nearly inescapable, it’s worth consideration.

If we didn’t create the way we look at time – who did? If we didn’t decide how to use our precious time – who does? Who tells us whether “time is short” or “we have all the time in the world”? We do. We learn it early on, from others who have learned before us. And we are given training in schools to unify our perceptions and hustle when the bell rings, regardless of the task at hand. We are not taught to question this perception, and it takes a substantial degree of study and reflection to re-train these perceptive reflexes. Here lately I’m thinking it’s a worthy effort.

There are never enough hours in my day. I’ve heard myself say and think that phrase over and over. How exhausting!  It’s high time to break that habit.  Not that I will all of a sudden get everything done that I hoped to do in a day, but maybe I will be relaxed about the fact that my life is full.  It’s full of beauty, food, friends and family.  Full to bursting with the stuff of life and love.  What is time for but to love?

Last year, as we tapered off our writing habits, it felt like there was just too much going on to be able to write about it and be honest. And of course there wasn’t time.

Now, it feels like there’s too much going on, and to NOT write about it wouldn’t be honest. There’s no more or less time than ever. But I have missed this place to share thoughts at hand, visions, the beauty of life out here, so I’m choosing to take the time.

Because, this is another important thing that time is for – sharing.geese and girls

 

contentment

Contentment does not need more.

Contentment does not want more.creek 2

Contentment is at ease wherever and however it is.

Contentment cannot be bought or sold.  If we greedily grasp at it, it slips away.creek 5

Because of this, contentment will never be popularized by those who benefit from the capitalist, commercialized, materialist economy.

Because of this, contentment all the more valuable.creek 6

Contentment does not exist in stasis.  It does not get in the way of striving, of improvement, of change.  It can rest in a whole heart while the maelstrom wheels around us.  Contentment endures.

Days have been hot here.  It is a wonderful time to sit in the creek with the kids.  But I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself there as much if I hadn’t just finished hoeing the corn.  It is an inner life equation: meaningful work + good play/good rest = contentment.creek 3

Contentment is not happiness itself.  But happiness is a result of contentment.

Do not stop doing meaningful work.  Do not stop striving toward a better world.

But, please, deep inside, do be content.creek 4

embrace contradiction

If you’ve wondered where we are this week, I’ll tell you.  We’re busy.turnaround2

After months of seemingly endless wet and cool weather, the turnaround finally happened.  It’s been suddenly summer.  Very hot, and even dry.  The cover crops grew inches every day.  The greenhouse burst full.  Everything grew.  And so, it all had to be handled, right away.

This time of year engages every dimension of a grower’s life.  To be honest, it won’t slow until Autumn, but the initial throes are some of the most intense and thrilling.  Days take on a kaleidoscopic quality.  The whirl of sky, plants, compost, soil, water, children, animals, meals, sleep.  (Did I mention dishes, laundry, and sweeping the floor?  No?  oops.)  Round and round we go.

There’s no place like the open field to meet yourself, face to face, as the tilt-a-whirl spins.  Hopes. Dreams. Ambitions. Desires. Fears. Expectations. Joys. Losses.  They rise from the dust, play in the mind-field of the garden, and settle back down in the shade by the end of the day. Field time brings us into immediate contact with the personal bundle of contradictions inherent to human existence.  Just a few weeks ago, I was waxing lovely thoughts about leaving the earthworms alone under a thick layer of mulch.  Give the seasonal kaleidoscope a whirl and watch that one go by!turnaround3

Those plants that went into the mulch are growing just fine (some places a little weedier than I’d like, oh well).  But when the cover crops lay cut in a golden green carpet, and the best chance of rain we’ve seen in awhile looming in the forecast, I was overjoyed for my Fellow Man to ride through the gardens with our good neighbor’s tractor and spading machine, working the soil into long, smooth, amazingly loose seed beds.  Spaders work the soil deeply.  They bother the worms, I’m sure of it.  Overall, I have mixed feelings about them, but right now it feels just wonderful to see those cover crops be worked under so well, and so quickly.

The beautiful terrifying sight of open ground moved us to frenzied action, and now, with sore muscles and the best chance of rain upon us today, we are not finished by a long shot, but we have made a good start at least.turnaround1

I can’t pretend that it isn’t exhausting and sometimes stressful.  It is.  I think about this while I plant, while I push a wheel hoe, while I shovel another load of compost, while I sort tomato and pepper varieties from the greenhouse.  None of the small scale growers in our circle of friends are in this line of work for the money.  Do we have to make money to survive and make land payments?  Absolutely.  But friends, there are many more lucrative and less demanding ways to make money than growing good food.  Financial greed does not rule the heart of the small grower.  We’re in this for the life.  We’re in it for the pure glee of seeing a seed sprout and grow.  We love the satisfaction of healthy flocks and herds, healthy children, and the feel of sun and wind on our faces and ground beneath our feet.  It’s simple.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s exhausting.  And it’s wonderful.

May you be blessed with work that challenges, excites, and enlivens you, and wears you out a little too.turnaround5