Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nearly the End of July, Really?

I'm taking stock. This early morning air s light.  It's going to be close to 90 degrees today.  I need to continue working in the gardens. Yes, weeding.   I have four rows done in North garden.

On Monday, I harvested beans: Blue lake, Tenderettes, Romas and purple.  Made a delicious cold salad for dinner.  Have to put by the box of Tenderettes, which are gorgeous beans.

I also collected burpless cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini-- all of which we have plenty of.  The supersized yellow squash and zucchini have been picked and cut up for our always hungry chickens and turkeys. They love, love, love it.

I plan on working another 4 hours weeding, then a swim. I have  been swimming 17 times.  I'm hoping to break 30 by end of summer.  It's great therapy for my muscles, especially after all those hours bent over in the repetition of weeding. Hoping to take a ride out West in search of apricots.  The blueberries we found on Saturday were so delicious, so sweet, and are all gone. So a few more pints of those, too.

Started a few watercolors this week.  I'm so rusty. Long ago, I met a woman at Writers & Books who was first an artist and second a writer, who advised me to pick a subject and draw that subject for 100 days consecutively.  She said to plan on 15 minutes, per drawing.  Much like morning pages, this practice loosens up the soil, so to speak, acting as a bridge between dreams and awareness.  I have been drawing flowers.
First drawing went the way of too much enthusiasm.  For a still life, it didn't look airy but cartoonish. It really puzzled me.  Next  drawings were far more successful. Zinnias.  I do love them.So I may do a series of painting.  I imagine they would become a catalog of summer.

Summer, I don't want it to end. I'm finally settling in to its rhythms. I am grateful for the solitude.  I've been made keenly aware of time.  Nothing is accomplished quickly. Well, maybe doing the dishes, or making the bed, but everything else takes time. Hurry has been making me anxious.  I keep asking myself, what happens if you don't hurry?  And the answer is something will be bumped into tomorrow, because I'll run out of time or energy, or both.  So be it.

It's nearly 8 a.m. and It's time to start this day's work.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How Long Did It Take To Get Here?

Last week, I spent my mornings with 12 charming writers (nearly 8 to nearly 12 years old) at Writers and Books'  SummerWrite 2015.  What pleasure working with these children, and their creative writing is  truly exceptional.  I loved the way they captured voice and made me care about their characters.

In my sessions, I ask them to give shout out compliments about what they loved in each others' work.  One little girl said, "I never heard words put together in that way. It's all new to me and I want to think about it." I think her response is exactly right.  The work was stunning.

Consequently, I have be comparing my experience with these young writers to my reading of stories and poems recently published in journals that I've just discovered or have followed for quite some time.  The children's work is stronger because it truly deals with narrative (ethos & pathos), not artifice. Currently, there is a lot of facade in work.  Glib language, that poses as hipster chic, or a  journalistic "tell style" language that is flat. Personally, I prefer the storyteller that draws me in immediately, like Russell Banks. I like texture.

And so, the summer drifts along.  Weeds grew in our gardens in my absence.  Today, I will resume my editing intensive.  On Friday, I did pick an abundance of burp-less cucumbers and along with blueberries have become  the latest go-to- mini meal.

Yesterday, we traveled West to visit our Mennonite neighbors.  Bought a joyful bouquet of summer flowers.  I'm planning on painting them today.  Hopefully the watercolor will capture the essence of these flowers that make me feel so rich.

The next week will take the course of As the Crow Flies.  A week to call my own.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Red Rooster Farm Chronicle

Yesterday, in the garden, I was inches away from toad who watched me clear away the excess of weeds. The toad  stayed with me for four hours.  Finding shelter under what I left intact.  The wide leaves of the eggplant and flourishing marigolds.  The complimentary planting to keep away the tiny black beetles that turn the eggplant leaves into delicate lace. 

Today it's suppose to rain. I'm debating on what to do. Work inside or out?  Until it rains? The sun has suddenly broken through the overcast skies.

In the small pond that is surrounded by our herb garden, I have found a healthy group of leopard frogs living in and out the pond.  The goldfish that Peter bought for 39 cents each and slipped into the pond are getting big.  They gather in groups and stare down the frog perched on rock.  It goes on all day long.

I'm getting happier and happier.  I can feel my body changing with all the physical work I've been doing.Summer is moving quickly.  I look at my plant stained hands and wonder if I'm finally getting it right.  Something to be satisfied with. I have made friends with the Mennonite community.  Now we share recipes and thoughts on putting by foods.  They have a hard-working but gentle life, or so it seems to me.

Time to put up another batch of red raspberry jam.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Life on Red Rooster Farm, Summer 2015

Red Rooster Farm has kept me from posting regularly here.  I think I have been writing epics of the lost kind as I weed  in the gardens. I am just a hair ahead of weed disaster.  The weather has been close to perfect, although we did have some stormy weather in the last week of June where we were pelted with rain and it made the gardens float, but not drown, which is the good news.  However, this rain kept me from my daily work in between the rows in the North garden. It's amazing how resilient weeds are. I think we all should model our living after weeds. Just sprawl and take over-- everything.

I have been diligent in my domestic efforts, inside and outside, all of which is keeping me out of trouble. My thoughts are practicing the art of light.  The gardens are my pyramids and I'm building towards a substantial harvest .  The first days of canning have begun.  I made 4 batches of strawberry jam and am on my second batch of red raspberry.  The berries are superior this year and the jam has been setting up nicely.  There is something magical about jam-making.  I love the moment of the glossy sheen appearing in the bubble and pop as I stir the pot.  The perfume of fresh fruit fills the whole house.

Today promises to be a warm, humid day.  Possible pop up showers. I have begun to harvest zucchini. yellow squash, sweet peas, green and purple beans, all picked young and tender.  It's so hard to stay ahead of zucchini.  I swear they triple in size overnight.  Thus far, I have been plucking at just the right time.Everything is hiding under a canopy of green.  Healthy leaves of every size and shape.  It's deceiving.

At first, I thought nothing was ready, but when I took a closer look I hit the mother lode.  So far I have picked 6 quarts of red raspberries-- all  plump and perfect.  So I'm in the swing of this and love watching the jars line up on my dining room table.  I love this life, more than anything.  It's hard work, and for those of you who have romantic notions about growing one's own food and  believe that sustainability is a choice that's easy-peasy, you have it all wrong.It's a remarkable amount of work, and you have to love nature, not hate it  as you attempt to tame it.  It's hours upon hours of dedication, and believe me, everything is a miracle.
For me, it's the miracle of  finding upper body strength. I'm getting stronger and stronger. 

On the writing front, I have been working on my novella, with sides of poetry and an occasional lyric essay.
It's steady work.  I have been planning for the upcoming Fall and Spring semesters, with exciting programming that will no doubt enhance life in and out of the classroom.  I love it when my students see the connections and want to discuss them in small  and large groups.

So, here it is Monday, July 13, and i have more work to do.  Will be back, soon.