Sunday, February 21, 2010

running to the morning hay

When I let the sheep out to their hay pile in the pasture, they tear off after it like dogs let off their leads on a beach. Watching them leap through the snow to eat their second-cut is a tiny joy this farm offers. It lasts seven seconds, but soaks in your soft smile all morning. It makes coffee taste better, sweaters heavier, the snow more potato flakey. It is good as the land.

The sheep aren't the only running animals at the farm. I went for a jog yesterday, the first in months. It was glorious. Jogging has a way of losing myself in focus that few other activities do. As I huffed down the dirt roads I felt my tension release, especially in my upper back. I could feel the relieved muscles exhale under the strain of the jog. Almost as if my body was happy to be used again. My upper back expanded as I ran, as if my shoulders had been held together by glue and toothpicks, and with each gasping stride they'd break apart or dissolve under my skin. I only went a mile and a half, but the effort was exactly what I needed.

I am at my happiest when I'm outside and tired like that. Perhaps my desire to farm comes partly from this understanding. The exhaustion from physical labor relaxes me in ways nothing else can, and the sweet laziness that follows it seems fermented by the action. I can do hours of yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises but none of that holds a candle to three sweaty summer miles in high humidity followed by a mint soap shower and a thunderstorm. Heaven is a the way it feels to be clean in a linen shirt, on a lightening splattered porch, with a banjo playing an old waltz. Your whole self feeling as if you could fall asleep in a hammock or go out for another run in the rain.

I don't know if I'll get outside to jog today. The snow that fell this morning is still coming down, covering the roads with a slippery layer of slushy film. But I will be heading out shortly to meet the mortgage broker at Wayside. Today we are meeting to go over the application and to hand him all the paperwork I'd been collecting on my end. It's just another step in the farm-buying process—but a step none the less.


Blogger Heather said...

I'm looking forward to a nice spring jog myself. But I think the thing that gives me the relaxation you're talking about is skating. I used to skate until I couldnt stand~

Best of luck with the home buying! We're going through that journey is so exciting, exhausting, emotional and just...a lot to deal with. Hope all goes well!~!

February 21, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. It's all about a solid day's work outside. There's a sweet exhaustion that comes with meaningful physical labor. It might not be earth shatteringly important, but it's tangible. At the end of the day a sheep is fed and some chickens are happy. As always, love your posts.

February 21, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Good luck with the mortgage broker today! Running has been a challenge for several weeks (or most of the winter, actually). Our road is completely snowpacked & it's been below normal temps. We are having the 7th coldest winter on record here in SD, so my winter running has been severely curtailed. I've decided we must live in Narnia here -- endless winter.

February 21, 2010 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Loved your 3rd paragraph. Something tweaked in my chest when I read it!

February 21, 2010 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Can't run because of heart and knees, but I think I understand you in a way because of the physical labor I've been putting into my yard these last few days, getting compost piles ready and planter boxes made. I think I'm getting stronger. At least, I'm smelling stronger....

February 21, 2010 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Kaylen said...

So I just finished reading your book, Made From Scratch, and I was SO excited to find your blog...and see that you did, after all, get sheep! Congratulations!!! So excited to keep reading :)

February 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM  

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