Tuesday, June 7, 2011

and i ran back to that hollow again

This is going to be an interactive sort of blog post. I want you to click this link here, and push play. Minimize that window and just read the post to the music. Turn it down a little if it makes it hard to register the words, but if you do this you will better understand this entry. You'll be there too.

I have a riding lesson every Tuesday night. I come home from work, do some light, necessary, chores and then head out to Riding Right farm to tack up a Chestnut Mare named Mystery. I look forward to it all day.

And while I enjoy the challenges and small victories of the dressage saddle, it does push the night chores back at the farm well into dark. I get home around 8PM, and only have a few deep breaths of light left to get everything done. I go through my mental checklist, starting with rabbits and chickens down by the barns and then working back to the pasture to refill everyone's water stations. It takes around an hour now to go through the exhales of this place, the things that get it ready for bed. Come dark I am still watering tomato plants and dividing the hoofstock from their weeknight pastures to their weekday pastures (a job of grain bribes and general jim-trickery). It gets done. The work always gets done. I do it with gratitude.

Soaked through with sweat, in old muck boots, riding breeches, and a straw hat I must be quite the sight. A confused sort of agriculturist wearing Country Radio headgear and English riding pants admist a flock of sheep in the dark. My iPod runs a soundtrack as I do all this fuss. For night rounds it is always calming, usually the selected songs of Sam Beam, Wilco, or the Postal Service. Tonight it's Gregory Alan Isakov, and the Stable Song was playing. A song I have not listened too much, but it used to haunt my old truck summer nights last year. I would let it fill up that beater Ford and it gave me the uncanny ability to focus 100% on two things at the same time: my passions and the lyrics. When this happens you are one lucky bastard. You are praying without realizing it.

Fireflies had descended on the pasture. I stood there, entranced for a moment. The Blackfaces and Jasper all around me in the near-dark, silent. Just myself and swishing tails and lumbering bodies. In the grass, the sole two-footer, among all this whimsically insect-lit quadrapedia. It's meditation and enlightenment at the same time.

I stood there a while. I closed my eyes and listened to the music. Jasper's wet nose hit my shoulder and I reached to touch it, but kept my eyes closed. A smaller lamb let out a weak bleat and it opened my eyes. A farm lit all over by my one of my favorite things in the whole world: fireflies. I gasped.

When you are alone in a large place, chubby, scared, uncertain, and worried about what will get you through the next month—and yet find a way to open your eyes in a pasture and realize you don't want to be any other person in any other place in the whole world—your soul turns around three times and lies down.

47 Comments:

Blogger MG said...

Love this: "whimsically insect-lit quadrapedia."
And this: "your soul turns around three times and lies down."
Thank you, Jenna. You're an inspiration to me in life and blogosphere.
http://www.s4311.blogspot.com/

June 7, 2011 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm pretty sure I made up quadrapedia, but thank you darlin'

June 7, 2011 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Tora Consolo said...

I want to thank you as well Jenna. I wish I was your neighbor.

June 7, 2011 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Katey and Dave said...

"your soul turns around three times and lies down."

This is why I read this blog. Also, you've managed to introduce me to more music I've come to love than just about all of my friends combined. I'd love to see some sort of all-time top ten tracks for various homesteading activities.

June 7, 2011 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Love this post, really love 'your soul turns around three times and lies down' - epic. Posts like these are what keeps barnheart from becoming fatal for me LoL You're so talented, whenever you write your reader is standing right there with you watching the fire flies, and I think their soul turns around three times and lies down as well. Such a gift.

June 7, 2011 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger No Name Farm/Ranch said...

Jenna, again (again, again) you paint a picture, set a scene and just make me ache to finally move out onto our patch of dirt outside the city. Thank you for always reminding this suburban dweller and weekend farmer that someday I will spend weekday evenings in the pasture, too.

June 7, 2011 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

Thank you so much for sharing, the song and the post are beautiful and make my heart smile. I cannot wait for the day when I can stand on my own land and feel that way.

June 7, 2011 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Ruth @ Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

Beautifully written as always. Thanks!

June 7, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Isn't it the best? I am not happy without 4 legged livestock to care for.

June 7, 2011 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Beautifully written. And I also love "your soul turns around three times and lies down."

June 7, 2011 at 11:50 PM  
Blogger Beka said...

I don't often get chills from the internet...that was amazing.

June 7, 2011 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Beautiful words. Beautiful music.

June 8, 2011 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Floridagirl said...

Loved the music! I clicked on another song and he was playing at Red Rocks. We've seen several shows at Red Rocks and honestly, any music is just that much better. It's an amazing venue. You must come sometime and see it for yourself. It isn't fireflies and sheep but it's pretty wonderful.

June 8, 2011 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

You got the life Jenna. Beautifully written. Its a great feeling to be so satisfied with your life. Its a rare thing in these times. Sometime later in your life you may have to call on this very moment for inspiration. What a great memory....

June 8, 2011 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger Conviently Crazy said...

The one thing I regret the most is that we have no fireflied in california... This post hurt my heart a little, knowing that I am so far away right now from my dream, yet so desperate for a place to call home.

http://bit.ly/k8JFGR

June 8, 2011 at 12:09 AM  
OpenID lifeofalittlewoman said...

Just what I needed to read tonight. Thank you.

June 8, 2011 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I grew up in upstate New York near Schenectady, so not too far from Cold Antler in the grand scheme of things. I can remember so vividly the delight of fireflies in the summertime. Now I delight in new and different creatures in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, a place so different from where I grew up but equally as beautiful and rich in its own way. Thank you for painting such an incredible picture with your wisely chosen words. It brings me back to a time in my life I am grateful for.

June 8, 2011 at 12:19 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

I went to take the trash to the street after cutting the grass tonight and was amazed at how many fireflies were out! It was probably about the same time. I'm happy that you're so happy and glad that you have Jasper.

June 8, 2011 at 12:38 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

That's the writing I've been missing. You have a really gifted way of conveying your contentment. It makes me remember when I've had that feeling. You don't get it all the time, but when joy settles around your shoulders and bursts through your heart, you know it and you treasure it, because the feeling passes all too quickly.

Thanks for sharing yours.

June 8, 2011 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger Coco said...

Jenna, I´m going to start thinking of you as ¨Barnheart Mary¨ for spreading contagion.

That was lovely, thank you.

June 8, 2011 at 4:06 AM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Great post Jenna!

June 8, 2011 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger Jamie Elfrank said...

I echo everyone's comments here, what a striking, amazing post. Thank you!

p.s. I second the call for a top ten list of music! :)

June 8, 2011 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

You never fail to put me in a state of awe. You were born to write about your farming experiences. Thank you so very much dear, for sharing this gift with us.

P.S. Yes! Yes! Top ten!!

June 8, 2011 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Once again I get to start my office day with the feeling of peace you just shared. I believe this amazing feeling of contentment you describe is available to us all if we just follow our hearts. I've had it floating in a conoe in Boundry Waters, Dancing to Music that plays in my soul, and rocking my babies to the sound of Prarie Home Companion. You brought it back to me. Thank you.

June 8, 2011 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

That right there is what makes you so inspiring...you take the heart of a homesteader, and explain the why of it all so clearly, so poetically that there is no misunderstanding, no confusion. Why do we want to so this? What makes each of us strive so hard to have our own field of fireflies? You touch each of us with your own special poetry while showing us it can be done.
Kudos to you, Jenna.
Thank you.

June 8, 2011 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Just lovely! And just what I needed. The heat and the work and the trauma of my last few months have really been getting the best of me and I've been forgetting how much I love this life. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for bringing me back around. I'm going to go scratch my favorite doe under the chin for awhile now.

June 8, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger scorpiogirl said...

What Coco said. I share your reverence for the moments when you just stop and let nature fill you with it's magic.
P.S. There is a great local band by the name of "Eastbound Jesus" you can catch their video on YouTube. A pretty amazing bunch of kids from over the hill in Greenwich.

June 8, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

We had similar experiences last night. My husband, daughter and I were working late in the garden, then all of the sudden the fireworks began!
Such a strong memory from my childhood and proof positive that summer is indeed here. And what a delight to share with our 2 yr old daughter.
Thank you for the beautiful post, and like many others my favorite part was "your soul turns around 3 times and lies down".

June 8, 2011 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger E said...

It's great to read about the life you have created and the satisfaction you get from your work.

June 8, 2011 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Caty said...

"the moon was just a sliver back then"

Long time reader, first time commenter - it was the subject line from Stable Song that brought me straight to this comment box at last: you are officially the coolest, most resonant, most boss bloggin' wordsmith of a woman I've ever known existed. Your writing is tremendous, your adventures are tremendous, and I just think you're tremendous!!
I hope I find my way up to the mountains someday to play a tune or two with you (I wouldn't show up without the fiddle ;)

Cheers to you lady!

June 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

That gave me the shivers. And you're right - playing the music did put me right there next to you. Thank you.

June 8, 2011 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Sharon Delman said...

Simply beautiful!

June 8, 2011 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Erin Leigh said...

Beautiful and haunting, Jenna. Thank you!

June 8, 2011 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Top Ten Songs for Summer Night Rounds

Go to Sleep: Avett Brothers

Skinny Love: Bon Iver
Walking Far From Home: Iron and Wine
Thinking About You: Radiohead
Half Acre: Hem
Upward Over the Mountain: Iron and Wine
Stable Song: Gregory Alan Isakov
Recycled Air: The Postal Service
Sacred Vision: Iron and Wine
Mountain Bed: Billy Bragg and Wilco
The Trapeze Swinger: Iron and Wine


Top Ten Songs for Winter Night Rounds

White Winter Hymnal: Fleet Foxes
One Voice: Wailing Jennys
Brand New Colony: The Postal Service
Let Down: Radiohead
Neighborhood #4: Arcade Fire
Everlong (Acoustic version): Foo Fighters
Idaho: Josh Ritter
3x5 (acoustic): John Mayer
Wonderwall: Ryan Adams
Transatlanticism: Death Cab for Cutie

June 8, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What a beautiful post :)
I can imagine listening to this in a truck, cruising down a country road at sunset, windows down, hot and sticky from a great day.
Lovely!

(Can I offer some unsolicited advice? I noticed you mentioned watering your tomatoes at night. We seem to always end up watering just before sunset too! But having them sit wet all night could lead to blight. We lost all our tomatoes last summer to blight - weather-related... it's a bummer)

June 8, 2011 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger kylieps said...

What a beautiful musing Jenna. I love evening chores too. Actually, morning chores as well. But there's something so peaceful about putting the farm to bed with fireflies.

June 8, 2011 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

Love that, last paragraph gave me chills!

June 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger enchantedacres said...

I love the music. And you just described what heaven must be like!

June 8, 2011 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger jules said...

gosh Jenna, I was right there with you. I love your writing.

June 8, 2011 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Oh Jenna! So beautiful! I am going to stay outside tonight and watch fireflies now. I thought I saw some the other night but wasn't sure. I will also hear my little bottle ram lamb in the darkness and the goat kids calling for their mothers. I love that music. Thanks. Now I have a few more people to look for at the used books and CD store.

June 8, 2011 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger The Sprouting Acorn said...

love it! thanks for sharin'.
you're turnin' me on to music that i don't normally listen to…. where do you find it all? is there a radio station up there that plays it??

June 8, 2011 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger bjwh20 said...

my heart overflows with your words

June 9, 2011 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger downeast becka said...

i adore your writing, the musical links and musings--so inspired by the song i pandoraed(word?) him--fitting my morn so well before i go digging my hands into the earth many times in planting...thank you thank you thank you...

June 9, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Knit Picky Knitter said...

really like this post jenna.

June 9, 2011 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger eyesofblue said...

Absolutely beautiful!

June 9, 2011 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

when I first started reading this post I didn't have the ability to listen to the music while reading so I decided to come back later when I could -- so glad I waited

June 11, 2011 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger Blink said...

I'm thrilled to have found your web site, thanks to Jon Katz. What a tallented and gifted writer you are. I will check in often to read about you and your adventures. I love the music you added here as well.

June 17, 2011 at 8:17 AM  

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