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Archive for September, 2012

Geese on the Pond

Almost two weeks ago I started writing a post about the blessing of rain, but then so much else was happening that I never finished it. One good storm the day after Labor Day and there was water in our well again. The irony of the drought hasn’t escaped us: not only were we waterless in Waterville, we had feared a season of crops rotting in poorly-drained clay soil and so had kept our fingers crossed for a summer of easy, humble rain.

Almost two weeks have gone by and so much else has happened. All of a sudden it is cold in the morning and I go to the barn in long pants and a heavy sweatshirt. The air is crisp and the sun stays clear and low. Everything in the garden is taking a deep breath and slowing. Our meat birds are in the freezer and I picked the first of our winter squash this week. Change this fall is visceral.

Within the span of two days my family shifted a generation. On Saturday morning my ninety-one year-old grandfather passed away peacefully. Not even forty-eight hours earlier, on Thursday morning, my tiny niece was born. We went to meet her that afternoon and she was bundled up and so impossibly small, and she blinked round blue eyes up at her mother for the first time. She has perfect shoulders and a dimpled chin. She has a little button nose and soft brown hair, and she is named Ella June. Everyone spoke quietly, and we joked about wanting to throw her a half-day-old birthday party. I had never held a newborn baby before. It was as if everything was right in the world.

There is so much real life happening outside of the daily tasks that demand nearly all of our energy. I was reminded recently to slow down and appreciate small and beautiful moments: the feel of the sun, morning fog settled into a valley, geese on the pond, the taste of food that is good for us. The farm is a good place for slowing down and noticing. It is a good antidote to the haste of traffic and the stress of waiting tables. It is real in the sense that it is cyclical: chicks eat and grow up and are eaten. Seeds go into the dirt and turn into fruit which leaves behind seeds. It is real because it insists that I notice and appreciate all of these moments, from pigs ransacking the chicken coop to dainty white flowers becoming peas.

Nothing makes the pace of life more tangible than births and deaths. Last week I said goodbye to my grandfather and hello to my niece. In the meantime I dug potatoes and sorted onions, made bunches of golden sunflowers, listened to geese arrive for a visit, herded pigs back to where they’re supposed to be, and let tomato sauce simmer on the stove. I thought about what a blessing it is to be grounded by love.

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