and the garden roars...
The day started in town with errands and a dog walk. But on my way home I stopped by the Equinox Garden Center to see what they had in store for me. I came home with twelve baby broccoli and lettuce starts (budget is tight, or I would've came home with five times that!) and placed them on the floor of the passenger seat for the ride home. Annie hung out her window as we drove, such a happy girl. I sang to the Frighten Rabbit cd blasting in the car, and since it was lunchtime and 80+ degrees out I saw no reason not to stop for ice cream. Which I did, and to be driving up my green mountains with good music, happy dogs, garden hope, and a mint chocolate chip was all I needed to feel a slice of bliss. After I wolfed my treat, I stopped at wayside and bought some Coke in a cold glass bottle to wash it down. Perfect. All of that morning, perfect.
When I got back to Cold Antler I changed into my Rosies, work boots, and an insect repellent bandana. Time to work! I grabbed a pitchfork and went to tackle the chicken coop, mucking out the winter's bedding and moving it into the garden as weed control/fertilizer. When that was in fair shape--I set down the pitchfork and picked up my hoe. I turned over four raised beds, and checked on the progress of my little supermarket. Peas were rising from the earth, as were seed lettuce and potatoes. The rhubarb was coming up nicely, as were last years strawberries. I planted the new started plants I bought and then planned where the corn, tomatoes, onions, and everything else would go. Hours later, stood back with the hoe across my shoulders to take in the effort. I sighed a long sigh.
Beautiful. Nothing is more beautiful than turned earth and the promise of good food.
The sheep watched from their pasture. Marvin hopped the fence once and that was a hoot getting him back in. Bean Blossom, my pregnant Angora doe, also escaped from her hutch (I forgot to turn the latch after cleaning out her bedding) and that was another adventure in animal husbandry. But by evening all the animals were back in their clean pens. And my garden made my back and shoulders roar in that satisfying pain of a job well done.
So I decided to be a sadist and go for a run. Which was impossible, and silly of me. I was beaten down from the yardwork, but I wanted to end the day completely whipped. (I wanted that shower with mint soap to be earned, and when dark came and it was just me in my hammock, to sink into it as I swayed.) I made it half a mile before my body gave out on me, and walked the rest of the way home. The sunset over the Sangate hills was amazing.
A few years ago, had you told me I would find this level of contentment after putting my body through hell and only spending $5.98 on veggie six-packs. I would have laughed in your face. But I've come to love this homelife, and the responsibility and work that makes it all sing. To put down a hoe, and pick up a banjo for a few minutes costs nothing - just work and rest. Yet it gives me more satisfaction and sense of self than anything I read in any book or was told in a college class. There is freedom in this. Maybe our only chance at freedom?
Gary Snyder, might be my favorite person on the planet. He was the inspiration for Jack Kerouac's Japhy Ryder, a man who is all fiction but I can't stop spending time with. I love that man. I've read the Dharma Bum's a dozen times, and keep reading it because it makes me so happy to hear about the thoughts of those scrappy, wild, and searching men. Anyway, Snyder says this in his book, The Practice of the Wild:
"Wild and free." an American dream-phrase loosing images: a long-maned stallion racing across the grasslands, a V of Canada Geese high and honking, a squirrel chattering and leaping limb to limb overhead in an oak. It sounds like an ad for a Harley-Davidson. Both words, profoundly political and sensitive as they are, have become consumer baubles. I hope to investigate the meaning of wild and how it connects with free and what one would want to do with those meanings. To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions as they are--painful, impermanent, open, imperfect--and then be grateful for impermanence and the freedom it grants us. For in a fixed universe there would be no freedom.
Well said, Gary. Well said... It takes a lot of shit to grow a garden. Be grateful for the manure--it's the cause of those first sweet bites of your harvest. Just don't get too attached to the taste. It will soon be gone.