Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

I have been nurtured by many in my life—by my mother, by her mother, even by her mother too. Many, many guided me so that I could grow and thrive. When I think of the care given to me in my childhood, how it felt, I remember the curvature of my favorite tree against my back. I remember laying in tall grass, listening to it whisper in the wind, watching the clouds swirl behind the dancing canopy of trees. I see puffs of dandelion seed floating, gently settling nearby. I remember the feeling of sticky, sweet cherry juice on my lips, the smell of the neighborhood cedars wafting in the breeze, and the awe of tiny tadpoles growing into frogs. All of this was gifted, with no expectation of return.

In farming, I am given the gifts of these small joys over and over again. I watch the valley change, shifting red in the fall and back to yellow in the spring. I laugh as I slip in muddy beds and sink deep into surprising wet spots. I work hard and in return, I get to witness abundance.

Farm tasks can be long and tedious. Days blur together, even as the seasons change rapidly around you. Seed, water, fertilize, plant, harvest, wash, weed, seed, water, fertilize, plant, harvest, wash, weed, seed, water, fertilize, plant, harvest, wash, weed, and weed, and weed. It takes many hands, and we spend hours pulling tiny weeds out of tinier carrots.

In these long tasks, the kinds of moments where time gets up and stretches their legs, our conversations flow. We talk about a lot, nearly anything and nearly everything. Conversations deepen and lighten, they carry on from day to day moving thematically through the carrots, into the packshed, and to the breakroom.

The other day we were talking about flash mobs. If someone came up, dancing, would you join them? Most of us shook our heads. No way. One of the crew challenged the rest of us, writing a counterpoint to our skepticism and resistance. Of course he would, he said, dance for a few seconds. “You can be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?” We laughed, not because it was funny but because it was genuine, authentic, and true. Isn’t that one of the gifts of farming?

In farming we get to be connected to that in which we live. The community that fuels us? We get to feed. The soil that holds us, grows us food? We get to tend, to learn from it. As I get older, and move solidly away from adolescence, I watch everything around me aging too. People slow down, and then they go. Trees fall down in the windstorm. In all the steady change of life I am left wondering: what is my responsibility to all these gifts I have been given?