farm life

Lillian's Dream Home

I pass by the old run down house every time I head north to pick up hay.  I noticed it the first time I went by.  Every time I drive by I think I should stop and take a look, a photograph.  This last April after a hay run, I came home, grabbed my camera and headed back to do just that.  The experience was more profound than I could imagine.

I parked on the west side of the road where the house is situated.  It's far enough off the road and up a bit of a hill that I couldn't get as close as I thought.  Being a farm girl, I'm conscious about trespassing or disturbing livestock.  I took my fill of photos looking north to the house and decided to hike along the road to get an up hill shot and some looking south.  I'd noticed paper stuck in the fence on my drives by and marveled that that stubborn piece of rubbish managed to weather our strong winds.  As I approached I realized the whole place had weathered a life.  There on a rough hand scratched plaque:  Lillians dream home.  Age 92.  Died 17 June 2016.

I stood there tears streaming down my face, wondering...  Did she have a family?  Did her sweetheart build the home?  Did she have a few sheep, a goat, cow, chickens?  Did she look out to the foothills like I do, marveling at both how big and small our world is?  Clearly the house has been in ruin longer than a year.  When did she leave?  Why?  Did another family make a life in the house?  So many unanswered questions.  I wish I could have met her and asked.

 In this time of divisiveness in our country, regardless of your politics, we must notice and stop to connect.  Let us look into one another's eyes and ask the questions I didn't get to ask Lillian:  Who are you?  Where have you been?  Have we traveled the same path, just at a different time?


The absurdities of being older

I've been thinking about being older lately. Not getting older but actually being older. Every weekend when I haul my tables and displays to the farmers markets I think about it.  This spring when I realized I had packed on few pounds over the winter and they weren't shedding like usual I thought about it.  When I practice yoga and meditation and I send the breath to where it hurts and don't have enough breath for all that, I think about it. I used to be incredibly flexible. I could do the splits until I was 40 and then one day I found I couldn't. On the other hand, I'm gentler with myself now (mostly). I'm more intuitive about eating, resting and contemplating life. 

I do love this new non 9:00-5:00 life I've carved out for myself but sometimes I think I came to it a little late, learned to listen to myself a little too late.  I'm a fearful person by nature. Don't ask me why, that's a road you don't want to go down.  I am and that's that. Last week I went to a little gathering at a friends house.  Just three couples and our collective brood of 4 kids. One couple is younger than the rest of us by I'm guessing 15 years. We were talking about my business and I was saying that I'd rather be doing online and wholesale sales exclusively rather than the physical work of the markets. This younger guy asked me why I didn't just do it. I launched into my typical excuse about not being very good at promoting myself or seeking new clients. He looked genuinely puzzled and again asked my "Why?" Caught a little off guard but feeling at ease with these friends I said, "because they might say, no". And he said "So?"  In that moment the tiniest light of recognition about how absurd that argument  is dawned on me. 

I've done a few brave things in my life. I've climbed a few mountains, used to ride hunter jumper horses, put myself through grad school, had two babies, gracefully survived being fired at 50 and nearly 30 years ago I plucked up the courage to tell my sweetheart that I had fallen in love with her.  

Growing older brings the luxury of introspection and a delicate toughness.  I'm embracing it.  I'm hauling my market paraphernalia for another season and I'm preparing for the future by facing the possibility of "yes" rather than the absurdity of no.

How not to meditate

Lately I find myself thinking continually in Instagram shots and stylized photo setups.  My mind is a whir of hashtags, SEO, tags, categories, posts likes and little red hearts not to mention little read dots with numbers I must manage.  Optimize!  Get featured!  Boost that post!  I look at my dinner and think "Which background would set this off in the best light?"

I've needed a reboot day for a while.  A day when I could slow down and disconnect with all the outside noise and reconnect with myself.  I hadn't really planned ahead for it but when I got up this morning, I knew today was the day.  After I fed the chickens and the sheep, milked four goats and fed all nine, fed the dogs, cut the goat who insists on jumping the fence out of the fence and watered everybody, I was ready to get busy relaxing and contemplating life.  

The first thing I did was make popovers for breakfast.  I rarely do anything more special than mix up instant oatmeal but lo and behold I had some milk and eggs.  Popovers are a treat from my past.  My mom used to make them for special occasions and hers were always perfect and "popped".  My attempts over the years have been called "popunders" but I keep trying.  

During the 20 minutes the potential popovers were baking I thought I might start my intentional day with a little meditation.  I used to be pretty good at it.  At one point I had worked myself up to 30 minutes without too much squirming.  I was sure I could last 20 minutes.  The first five minutes were spent finding enough blankets to prop up my backside so my hips didn't hurt.  The next five minutes were spent shifting around trying to find a good position on those blankets and trying to decide if I wasn't in lotus position was I breaking some unspoken yoga rule.  Finally I settled in.  It went like this:  Fluffy clouds, breathe in, breathe out, hmm... I wonder if the buzzer will go off on the oven soon, NO!  Fluffy clouds, breathe in breathe out,  did I water that stupid jumping goat, NO! breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breath..., I really need to clean the office, breathe in, breath... I really should make something nice for dinner, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe... I better take a peak and make sure the candle that isn't touching anything isn't burning the house down, breath in...Buzzz... thank goodness!

After that little relaxing moment I pulled the beautiful popped popovers out of the oven and buttered up a few and headed out to eat on the picnic table on our front porch.  This table affords a great view of the the goat and front sheep pen.  It also faces east and who would have thought I needed sunscreen on the 21st of April?  I may or may not have eaten half a dozen of those tasty popovers and then I forged on in search of enlightenment by preparing that nice dinner I "meditated" about, homemade rolls and shredded bbq chicken.  Kneading is meditative, shredding chicken is meditative, going to the store to get the 5 things I didn't have in the pantry not meditative!

By the time I got home everyone else was returning to the house and my contemplative time was up.  Although not usually a whiz in the kitchen (I set fire to the stove twice just this week) I got lots of compliments on dinner and all was right with the world.

Clearly I need some more practice at slowing down and being intentional and undocumented.  I did manage to have a picture perfect moment with the baby goats this morning all circled around their milk pail.  I enjoyed the moment alone and resisted the urge to run for my camera.  Yesterday as I was taking pictures around the farm I caught this little bee going about his business.  He, drinking nectar and gathering pollen and me marveling at the simplicity and being thankful he didn't sting me and make me blow up like a balloon.  Its the little things.   Maybe Ive got it figured out after all.