I spent Wednesday morning in the farm’s high tunnel, where the majority of the tomatoes left on the vines reside. The regional public radio station, WAMC, has been holding its fund drive. Lately listening to the familiar voices recite the mantra of persuasion over and over again has consumed hours of my working days. Call now! We have to end this fund drive! We can do it if everyone calls now. Dispersed between the cajoling, the repeated shout-out of the number 1 800 323 9262.
I used to despise the fund drive on this station. However, commuting over the last 3 years, I have come to rely heavily on the WAMC news and programming and submitted to becoming a dedicated contributor. Feeling grateful for this station, the rhythms of the incessant, repeated call to action drove my work and created a canvas for my thoughts.
Picking tomatoes alone in a field or a green house can be boring work. It can take hours to reap the rewards and feeling of satisfaction at the end. On this day, I just let my mind wander to the sounds on the radio. What kept returning to this interaction between thought, tomato and radio was a nagging feeling that I was not going to enjoy the event that was scheduled at the end of the day—a leadership social hour. This feeling of dread was compounded in my solitude. What was this all about? Feelings of not wanting to see people, talk about my job, how my summer was, the kids emerged. Philip was traveling for work and I daydreamed of going home after work to write, hang with the dog, and eat chicken wings (my dirty little secret obsession).
This was the first time that I ever considered skipping one of these events. I love this organization and these people, right? Yet, I looked down at my hands stained with perma-dirt from harvesting and I couldn’t imagine blending with the regulars at the upcoming mixer. And my hair…it looked as if I was auditioning for a Phyllis Diller lookalike contest! Reminding myself that when upon arriving home I still clean up pretty well, I concluded that it must be something else that is different. I had to acknowledge that for the moment, I have lost the desire to attend social events. Happily, my days are spent observing the cycles of the farm and the beauty in and around these fields. Continue reading
This summer has definitely not turned out to be what I had envisioned. Let me say up front, that I am not complaining, simply observing. Back in January, I started a quest for change, focusing on less work and more time to think, write and be more left-brained. This goal was going to be achieved by working part-time at a job that appealed to my passions allowing me to get away from the stifling routine of daily cubical life.
Finding myself deep in the heart of summer and farm season and working full-time at 9 Miles East, I realized that there was little opportunity for taking much time off. Summer days are filled with harvesting, delivering vegetables and cultivating new rows of seedlings as old plants get retired to the soil. It is a highly creative and satisfying endeavor and the variety of important tasks is on many levels up-lifting. The work appeals to me; meeting goals with a beginning, middle and an end, using my body and mind to get the work done, watching the progress of the natural world (which is full of incredible surprises) and imagining future plans at the farm. It has been an exhilarating boost, yet lately my decision of taking a year off from drinking is weighing heavily on me.
It all started with our micro-vacation….
The question of a summer vacation had been put aside lately but an irresistible invitation showed up in my email and we just had to consider it. Not wanting the leave the farm for long at this time of year, Philip and I decided it was feasible to sneak away for what our friend Taylor dubbed a “micro-vacation.” This consisted of exactly 28 hours at the ocean—specifically, Essex, Massachusetts. Spontaneously, deciding to take this trip we loaded up the car and hit the road. We normally take a summer vacation ( 5-7 days) and this year, we were going to have to be satisfied with an abbreviated version of our usual trip to see our friends.
Every year Philip and I take a trip to Cape Cod to see our dear friends Wally and Sarah Morrison. Since our discovery of the poet, Stanley Kunitz, we also include a pilgrimage to his home in Provincetown. (The picture in this posting is from the front of his house.) Kunitz passed away in 2006 at the age of 101. His writing is timeless and it continues to inspire lovers of art and poetry today. Spending a century in the garden, his work and life’s philosophy reflect a deep understanding of all living things and the cycle and life and death.
Re-reading The Wild Braid, Kunitz’s last book, has brought me peace and happiness on this path of sobriety. The poems, musings and interviews in this book connect me to what feels essential and important in my life (my spouse, my family, trees, flowers, animals and the ocean). Most of all, Kunitz’s book helps me to understand why I am sharing my experiences in this blog. In following passage, Kunitz affirms in me a need to write and gives me hope that I may help someone, someday.
Art must have a social sense, a sense of the society in which we live and thrash.
As an artist you are a representative human being—you have to believe that in order to give your life over to that effort to create something of value. You’re not doing it only to satisfy your own impulses or need; there is a social imperative. If you solve your problems and speak of them truly, you are of help to others, that’s all. And it becomes a moral obligation.