“We must learn to reawaken, and keep awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, or so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”  – Henry David Thoreau

Do you think about this? How you can affect the day? How you affect days, one each at a time, that they accumulate to be this wonderful lifetime of influence, of interest, of modification, of evolution. And, because we know that we have this life, that we get to take it and mold it with all of the unknown circumstances, with all the jubilant elation, with all the piercingly humbling moments, with all of the ambiguity, and still, we have every power to make it exactly as we imagine. If we hold tight to the presence of gratitude and its overwhelming ability to find a reason to appreciate and grow from all that comes to each one of us, we are truly allowed to evolve. Truly empowered to affect each day. To welcoming each day to affect us.

It is cold. It has been icy. It continues to snow. But each day, the next season comes one day closer to being within our reach, our grasp, out sight, our breath. The sun is gaining more color. The long shadows twist and bend, caressing the long, smooth curves of the landscape, themselves subtly exaggerated in the snow’s memory of the wind. It has been so gratifying to be paying so much attention that even a few minutes added to the sun’s presence is noticed. And I find that I have gravitated to so many who are so present and observant of the incremental changes as seasons acquiesce. What a big and full breath to fill my enchanted journey, all of these people who have come to me in my 31 years and six months; what a grand parade that has been presented as my interests and expeditions have me venturing the realm of spectrum. So grateful, so grateful for all of my evolutions, for all these influential and guiding people, places and moment.

A winter solstice hike at Lime Creek Nature Center just north of Mason City. Mary, Paul, Tom, Lisa and myself. A group of folks who believe in sustainability, speaking up about things that matter, living very presently with an awareness of others. It’s a good group. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to find so many who like the seasonality of this latitude, that share a desire to soak it up, that show me there are many ways to do so. So, amongst us some make sure we don’t walk on the cross country skiers’ trail, some who hypnotically throw sticks for the dog, some who make guest appearances on the CBS evening news, some who allow change to flow through gently, all of us taking turns inspiring one another to wake up and affect the day. This is what we all need. The love and support of others that keeps us thinking in new ways, acting on our intuitions, seeing with unspoiled eyes. We all have a lot to share. Don’t forget to just stop and listen. Hear the stories.  Soak it in.

And, so, too, will Ame de la Terre. Take time. Continue to evolve, like the rest of us. Today is Dad’s birthday. It leads to a lot of forward thought and backwards reflection, and there is a way that they intermingle in a nebulous sort of way seemingly right in front of me. It’s hard to see through such a space without much for clear definition or guidance. So where do we go from here? Well, of course I continue to grow a garden for my own sustenance. That’s a given. And I promise not to try to reinvent the wheel again this year. I will keep it fairly simple, manageable, bite sized. The new challenges and nuances of farm planning on a piece of land known for its eccentricities; there’s a seemingly pretty high bar. So, 13 acres of native tall grass prairie – five acres of that will need to tolerate wet feet. Eight acres of teff, something we have never tried growing before. Eight acres going into semi-permanent mixed hay – grasses, legumes unknown. Eight acres of whatever my brother deems the most productive bird habitat once we can actually get down into the soft, swamp bottom peat ground… at this rate maybe the middle of July.

Record number of snow cover days this winter… a couple of months yet to go. It also means, then, a record number of days that the ground has been insulated, protected from the brazen east wind, from the striking cold, the sharp geometry of winter shadows. I’m curious to see how she emerges. Each day one day closer. Not to miss appreciating any one of these days I am reminded more today than most; cold and white and long as it may be, each will be here just once, each will give us but a fleeting moment to indulge, to embrace, to revel in all that comes to us, to all that encourages us and pushes us. We each move forward, one step at a time, one brilliant and beautiful moment falling wavelike into the next. To this year, to this decade, to this life.

“… Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”  – Gabriel García Márquez