Archives for posts with tag: garden

“Because of all we have discovered about a leaf…it is still a leaf. Can we relate to a leaf, on a tree, in a park, a simple leaf: green, glistening, sun-bathed or wet, or turning white because the storm is coming. Like the savage, let us look at the leaf wet or shining with sun, or white with fear of the storm, or silvery in the fog, or listless in too great heat, or falling in autumn, dying, reborn each year anew. Learn from the leaf: simplicity.” – Anaïs Nin

The pictures have no relevance today to my writing – they are simply connected to one another because I took them and fussed with them and helped them become more true. I just don’t have the attention span to read a blog at length without the lovely visual distraction, so I don’t expect anyone else to either.

It is beautiful autumn that is upon us. I went for a run along a winding path near the Winnebago River last week and the sun crept through the trees with shadows playing on the ground beneath my happy feet. A little leaf flickered and danced on the light air revealing the magnificence of the way the season has its impact on the richness of colors and olfactory perception. What an amazing moment to be present. Sublime. That was just the most appropriate description.

This picture is strictly for tickling the funny bone. From our trip to Seattle this summer and taking a stroll through the botanical garden at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard – someone left a fruit cake in the parking lot (seems like an obvious choice) and this squirrel was not going to miss out. It really cracks me up.

The prairie is ablaze with purple and orange and red – especially in the presence of the burning sun falling to twilight. Without a doubt my most favorite time of year and my favorite plants of the prairie are in their full glory – the grasses that reach to the sky – I walk amongst them feeling the giddiness of being a kid – how they embrace my presence even as I clumsily trounce through the field to collect rosehips (which I have since learned was a trite bit premature as one is supposed to wait until after the first frost, but what the hell, everything else is two weeks ahead in maturing and I had the spirit for it) I have once again had to reconnoiter my list of favorite grasses – last year Indian grass had taken top billing, edging past the switch and big blue… this year it is once again the switch that bestills my heart and attention and I can’t help but let my fingers play in the luxury of the stately inflorescence (the spread of the seed head) that makes the plant so easy to identify. Turkey foot, or big blue stem, has regained the second spot (always Dad’s favorite of the native warm seasons) and Indian grass rounds out the top three for me. I do love them all, and no rightful prairie would be complete without the multitudinous diversity that is the benchmark of a healthy landscape, but my heart reserves a special little nook for these grasses of September.

The perfect picture to segway into garden regale. 🙂 Ok, not exactly, but so it goes when I can’t seem to remember my camera when I go out to my little sanctuary of plants both pampered and neglected amongst weeds as tall as my head – at least the broom corn, flint corn and bloody butcher all reach higher! I have had incredible success and a bountiful harvest with my black turtle beans this year. Last year I just stuck the beans willy nilly in little square plots and this year they have the organization of a straight row to keep them obvious. They very much seem to prefer this line up organization, as they have been prolific producers and continue to blossom. I dutifully gather the pods as they are dry enough to crunch a bit between my fingers and then I put them in a box on the porch to finish airing their moisture. I also had a few calypso, tiger’s eye and cattle beans that are my garden prize. I am looking forward to the cold, crisp day that beckons a pot of chili with tomatoes preserved and these most decadent beans enlivening just to look at – can you imagine the energy they will instill upon finding the gullet? This gets me so wound up with anticipation I can’t help but beam, and am so proud to have known and tended these plants that bring such abundant gratification on so many levels.

On another note in the garden… I planted lima beans up the poles that hold the support wires for the tomatoes thinking I was pretty clever in not having to install an additional apparatus to trellis these wandering souls. Well, next year I will do something else. Suffice it to say the tomatoes have had a rough go of it given the weather and my neglect (with good reason of saving myself from certain injustices inflicted by mosquitoes), but now, even though they have recovered significantly the beans are in the full throws of a hostile takeover. This is no slight exaggeration, either. Sometimes I wonder if there are tomato plants still even under those curtains of wild bean tendrils. Maybe I will let them climb the corn next year. Pumpkins are looking fabulous and vividly orange and have completely taken over at least a quarter of the garden. Aggressive in spite of rampant pigweed and lack of diligent space clearing. Sweet potatoes will be dug this week, as well as other potatoes – hopefully I will remember my camera for that!

It is that season for bird movement, too. Driving through Gladfelter the other day I saw two elegant swans looking most at peace and sharing tranquility with the entire landscape – reminding me of Chuck and Helen. For Chuck’s 90th birthday two years ago, two swans were released in honor of these two wonderful people and the tremendous effort and love they put into conservation and life. I said hello. Other days have been full of different birds – one day was egrets, another turkeys. I have no doubt they come to share with me little pieces of being still and thoughtfulness that gets neglected in the urgency of living and figuring it all out and staying the course. I am so thankful for these winged brethren. The constantly help me to see the beauty of the journey and if the importance of seeing it as such.

“Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter.

– LLan Shamir, Advice from a Tree”

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“And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and
can be none in the future,
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn’d to
beautiful results,
And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death,
And I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are
compact,
And that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each
as profound as any. ” — Walt Whitman (The Leaves of Grass)
 

The surprise of beauty and liberation. Before today, this impetus to muse was not so apparent or compelling. First and foremost, I apologize for my lack of elaboration on the seasonal evolution and my gardening hard knocks education – thank you to all who remain vigilant in checking in. And to those who continue to encourage my free willed, indignant at times, humble ponderings and philosophizing of the nature of the whole.

So, today I had this epiphany of sorts. That nature in her splendor exhibits no perfection and by doing so is incredibly and magnificently such. Imperfection equals perfection. How bizarre. I mean, my entire life has been this see-saw back and forth cognating on how to be perfect, how to act perfect, how to do all things with perfection. But where does one find perfection if not only in the mind? And, really, as any good perfectionist knows, no matter how perfect or precisely above and beyond accomplishments land, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. Always. How asinine to beat one’s self up over this perceived under-achievement. Ludicrous. Delirious. Obscene. And yes, at this moment of 31 years, 11 months and 336 days of youth I am struck by this notion of true perfection lying in the simplicity of imperfection. I have been thinking way too much all this time.

Of course, anyone who knows me really does know that they have tried to tell me this for years. I am truly amazed at how something so profound just won’t sink in until you are good and ready. In honor of this said enlightenment, the market tomorrow morning will host me along with my “less than perfect” onions. This being due to the fact that some are dirty, some have more dry skin than others, some are lumpy or misshapen or just had too much time in the rain – but each and everyone is more than delightful enough to sass up a burger or enliven the plate sautéed in real and wonderful butter (preferably homemade from raw milk… to be continued). I have been stating for the last couple of years that the general public just needs to get used to their produce not looking monotonously perfect. Indeed, the most exquisite and healthful plants and fruits and vegetables are all lumpy or misshapen or slightly irregular – it would be those that have not been sprayed or genetically modified or held with a critical hand and critical mind, no doubt transferring that critical energy to the misfortunate who indulge. I won’t have it. I love all of the plants that come from my garden. So much so that I struggle with selling them to folks I do not know. It is not a moral high road, it is simply that there is a lot of me in each of them. If I determine one is not “good enough”, then perhaps that is only a reflection of what is within. Ah, liberated by imperfection.

I have definitely been struggling this summer, hence the lack of creative juice. Too much outgoing, not enough savoring the moments. I have simply come to this conclusion that doing more is always being less. Now I have to start living accordingly. I am making great strides. I have not even attended the market four out of the last five weeks because I have made choices that build me rather than require my energy moving in a one-way fashion. Weddings and an herbal symposium and a trip to Chicago with the loveliest of friends. So much good food for the soul. These moments fill me with aliveness. Addicting. Thank goodness. You know, it really reaffirms the importance of making time to do the things that remind you to savor and feel the moments of being human.

And if this photo isn’t evidence of inner peace and love of life, I don’t know what is! Paul and this fantastic pie full of team effort – Phyllis’ expertised guidance in crust creation, my rolling of the dough, Mary’s imperfectly perfect pieces of apple with just a hint of cinnamon and the most necessary freshly grated nutmeg. A rustic beauty, and even more of a delight for the tastebuds!

Mom came to the market a few weeks back and helped me out the day that I went to help Paul and Phyllis and Mary make pies. She brought her infamous home-ground wheat buns with flax meal, local honey and love, and as you can imagine they stole the show. 🙂 We also got a little press in the local paper that day. There are 3 photos and we even made one of them. That’s plenty of on the radar for me for this season. http://www.globegazette.com/wow/article_d671baa2-a17d-11df-844a-001cc4c03286.html

This would be another imperfection that is serving me well, and then some. The imperfection of the USDA (let’s not get ranting on that soapbox… this could become a novel in just one post!) and their inability to do much more than parlay to the lobbying contingent under the guise of well-being and health for citizens. So to keep the likes of raw milk out of the hands of the ignorant who cannot make choices wisely for themselves. Well, to hell with that. Obviously that is just one more rule that does not apply to me. 🙂 Or Tom since he is the one of which we have photographic evidence of procuring the finest the black market has to offer. We made homemade yogurt in a crockpot, thanks to Genesis and her most fabulous link: http://www.nourishingdays.com/2009/02/make-yogurt-in-your-crock-pot/ AND I made butter for the very first time… and it has never tasted better! In fact, my tastebuds are just ruined. That’s the risk one takes.

The most delightful part of engaging with the dairy farm was the girls. Each with her name on her eartag. Meet Jupi. Quite the meet and greet that evening. I feel so lucky. 🙂 And open and falling into my heart and out of my head a little more every day. I practice and practice and practice and then remind myself some more. That life is lived from the heart and in the moment. With some well placed dirt under the fingernails.

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”  — John Lennon

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”  – Louise Erdich

This quote makes me giggle imagining. Sitting under this apple tree amongst dirt and lady bugs (real ones, not those lady beatles that make a mess of things and hide in the siding) with the juicy sweetness of apples all over my cheeks and down my chin, checking to miss the soft spots and worm holes in the apples scattered about the ground, making sure I miss not a one. In a way, I guess, in the spreading myself quite thin over a number of curiosities, I strive for the same – a little sweetness from all that garners my attention.

The garden by moonlight has a beautiful sweetness all its own. This is what I am immersed in – the nearly full moon bathes me (and whoever I can get lucky enough to talk into helping me!) at the wane of an evening harvest. It’s luxurious. This place is so seep-into-your-bones beautiful. The birds accompany twilight in singing and swooping for a veritable meal (they aren’t eating enough mosquitoes in my opinion).

The cucumber beatles did a number on the melon and squash planting. Thankfully Dad’s self seeded pumpkins were big enough to not skip a beat – they are even flowering, which absolutely astounds and humbles me. I liberated them a bit from the encroaching pigweed last night. I think that made them pretty happy. I am tempted to replant the squash and melons varieties that were not so fortunate to withstand the assault. I have decided to utilize a biodynamic planting calendar – that is planting by the phase of the moon. For me, the greatest significance in this is that I get ever more connected to what is happening in my midst that for the majority of my life I blindly raged beyond in my carrying on of dailies. This gives me such peace and grounding – to tie myself and my garden to this persistent and dependable cycle. Herein, however, lies the challenge: plant squashes between the waxing of the third quarter and the full moon… the last full moon was only on the 26th of June… which means, patience, patience, patience, then hope like hell everything grows to maturity before the (cross-your-fingers) late frost. 🙂 Global warming, right? So, I’m hoping that biodynamic really give a boost and boon to the seed if I plant it appropriately… this is my grand challenge to that system and my great experiment of the summer…. beyond straight rows and tilling.

There has been a lovely sweetness to work as well. Even in my recalcitrance to it. This is my pseudo-job that I eluded to previously. Before going to work at One Step At A Time Gardens (see a link to their site below) it had been OVER A YEAR since I had endeavored to work for anyone but myself. My dad, my mom, my stepfather, both grandfathers, my aunt, my uncle – all entrepreneurs, all self engaged and self employed… I told my brother that it’s just not in our blood to work for other people. He laughs. I’m half-ass serious. So, even though I love the outside, I think the people I work for and with are better than the best I could ask for, I still begrudgingly sally forth to my 8 hour shift. Often a chunk of these 8 hours are spent weeding… which I typically follow with another couple of hours of the same in my own garden… It has been enlightening to see, though, that even people gardening for production for seemingly eons have weeds… I mean, BIG weeds! (a sign of good fertility I imagine) They were crowding out broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage that was pretty well established. Opportunity! Brian is comical on a regular basis. He coined Cauliflower Liberation Front, the CLF, and this evolved into the Vegetable Liberation Front as we moved into various beds. It could have been a consequence of the heat and weeding induced delirium, but by the end of 3 and a half straight hours of liberation and sun we were rolling with laughter. I am quite sure my cheeks hurt my than my hamstrings. He did a demonstration of proper thistle pulling technique, Eli chimes in with use of the Eye of the Tiger as theme song, consideration of recruitment of Levi, the 15 year old fella that lives across the pond (not the Atlantic, but East Twin Lake) who is big into film making – an opening scene of each of us striding down a row in black shades and a full tote of weeds and a real gem is born. We laugh over  how we could imitate CNN clips of Al Qaeda training video clips that inevitably show soldiers training over monkey bars (this was unbeknownst to myself as a non-tv watcher these days, but I was laughing, as politically inappropriate as that may be, please forgive me. :)) as inspiration for our VLF training film. Oh, we have fun. That laughter is so good for the soul, so I guess I will keep going to work and pulling my share of weeds.

My garden was graced with these two sweet and lovely maidens, Jess and Colleen. They just happened to travel 1,382 miles from Boston to get there. I like to think it was the soul mission of the trip. Makes me feel special. Really Jess is moving to Portland and I happened to be a nice mid-way stopping off spot – I mean, if the garden wasn’t going to pull them in, for sure the World’s Largest Bullhead was an irresistable enticement! 🙂

This last sweet piece of life that I want to share with you today includes my family’s tendency to change recognized holidays to days that fit better with our getting together. 🙂 That would include, this year, both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Each we decided we were going to celebrate one week late. Seth and Timothy come over to Mom and Shane’s every other Sunday – Father’s Day was not one of them. 🙂 We celebrate family by hanging laundry together in the summer. Just kidding. It was intermission in the croquet game really. The guys in my family are ruthless. Shane and Seth duke it out sending each other down the hill alternately. Tim at one point was behind both Mom and I, Seth had already completed the course and was “poison” and Shane was to follow. Tim was lamenting over the fact that he was dreading that Seth and Shane were going to target him first – I asked him why he supposed that, and his reply, bless his soul because I gave him a really hard time and used more sarcasm than most ten year olds should have to hear, was that he was the dude. I was laughing. He was not the first victim of the “poison.”

The title of this blog comes from the dash of my truck. My sweetgrass plot is beautiful and thriving and I hand mowed yesterday. My truck is full of the musky vanilla aroma as the grass wilts and dries in the magnified sun, and my trusty (but faded) little red bird rides with me reminding me to savor the moments of life. The bird symbolic of the cycles of 12, also embodies peace, love, grace and the confidence that all is as it should be. Deep breath.

“Are wild strawberries really wild? Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child? Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam? Could they ever relax in a steam-heated home? Can they be trained to not growl at the guests? Will a litterbox work or would they make a mess? Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows, or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows, or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse, or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house, and though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly can you ever feel that you trust them completely? Or should we make a pet out of something less scary, like the Domestic Prune or the Imported Cherry, Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed if your Wild Strawberries cannot be tamed.” – Shel Silverstein


“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton

A lovely afternoon in the garden planting sweet potatoes and still trying to make a dent in that blue angel food cake that Aunt Kathryn (Dad’s sister) made for the celebration of his life – a favorite of his for birthdays as a child. As you can see, it goes with everything including white wine. This picture was taken on May 9th, the day following a most wonderful gathering of friends and family in the most unlikely fashion. I tell you, I have never in my life felt more grateful for my place in it. This was a day of the most beautiful outpouring of love and support and sharing of spirit. Neighbors, making me most grateful to be amongst this amidst conventional farms, as much as I do not align myself with the tenets of such practices, our neighbors are real and present and a big part of our farming support system – we have a reputation of eccentricity to uphold, and I’m sure they won’t let us let them down. 🙂 I received two phone calls that morning from folks that Dad had meant something to – and they shared their stories and we laughed and we were brought together – a great and generous gift – thank you, Dad. The day following was a bit more lovely as far as the weather was to be concerned and after the scare of a hard frost the night before, I felt fairly safe and justified in my confidence that it would be the last. The potatoes took it on the hop and the flint corn looked questionable, but both came roaring back with intentional vigor, not to let a little frost inhibit the manic energy of the annual.

Kathryn and Tom helped me planting. These sweet spuds had much doting over – there was just no way they were going to not thrive… even though they seemed to threaten such for the first week. The garden is ALL PLANTED!! This is such a wonderful and amazing statement to be able to make. I have never been able to honestly say it in years priot. Not only is it planted, but it is maintained, AND somehow it managed to consume the same 75′ x 75′ as last year – with lovely plots of flax and oats and sunflowers (thanks to Meg’s planting last year – these are self planted beauties!). I have a good crop of Nicola potatoes – one of the only potato varieties with minimal impact on the glycemic response – this studying holistic nutrition (for those of you not aware, I am currently in the professional training program through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC for my certification in holistic health counseling) has created a whole new criteria for growing and selling at the market. If I don’t feel it would benefit my health, I have huge reservations about selling it to anyone else. This means I am not making more preserves because I don’t like the sugar. I mean, I am crazy about the sugar, and that in and of itself is a big red flag to me. So, yes, white potatoes, not entirely bad, but have a lot of room for improvement, and this is where the Nicola comes in. If you want to familiarize yourself a bit more, check out this link: http://breastcancer.about.com/od/cancerfightingfoods/a/potatoes.htm – I am growing these potatoes mainly as a seed potato crop for the Albert Lea Seed House. They are pretty rare as far a potatoes goes – I’m looking forward to taste testing soon!

My brother, my nephew, the dog – these guys hang out and grill and play the guitar and sing while I’m in the garden. Next to the chorus of meadowlarks, bobolinks and red wing blackbirds, it is the sweetest sound. I have no doubt that the plants grow stronger and ever more resilient because they are exposed so the beautiful vibrations and energetic wave lengths. We are eating well this season. As are the folks at the market! I am having a swell season at the Mason City Downtown Farmer’s Market from 9-12 on Saturdays. I even had a good day in the pouring rain last week – as in I was under a tent and still my skirt was wet up to my knees! I have some new jewelry pieces, which I have been having great fun with and a great response to, and my horseradish didn’t last long – I am hoping to process another batch this week. I have taken Swiss chard, four kinds of kale, loose leaf lettuce, rhubarb, onions, purslane, wild spinach (aka lambsquater), arugula and sweet snow peas for produce, beautiful bouquets harvested from the old farmsteads in the neighborhood, the prairie across the road and some ditches worthy of traipsing around in for phlox and sedges and alfalfa also decorate the table the the arms of some lucky folks. If I’m diligent in my preparation I have homemade crackers, too. Hmm, that’s a long list. I am surprised to accomplish it most weeks on top of studies and an actual pseudo-real job (3 days a week 8-5… still pulling weeds and washing produce, however).

So, perhaps there are those of you out there wondering what is going on with the farming and conservation efforts. Well, the rain has put a bit of a damper on things… hoping it will hold off enough of June for us to get our last two (that is out of three!) fields of annuals planted by the deadline for field certification. We are making our father proud keeping in the tradition of experimenting with new crops. This year we put in 8 acres of teff – an annual (at this latitude) grass originating from Africa, where there it is primarily grown for grain. You can find it in aisle 13 at Hy-Vee West in Mason City if you want to experiment with it in the kitchen. 🙂 At least it was there the last I checked. I picked up two bags of teff along with six bags of millet at the Seed House that is to be planted down by the cottonwood trees.

The eight acres of teff is a nice fuzzy green – we were fortunate in the timing of planting – I think it got in about one day ahead of the seemingly endless precip. Went out to check the eight acres of prairie that Dad planted close to this time last year and it’s coming along nicely – there are a lot of black eyed Susans looking close to bloom and a few patches of native grasses amongst the bushy, brilliant green clumps of reed canary. Wish I could say the same about the 40 acres of reed canary hay. Just one 8 acre plot over (across the winter rye) the field has been absolutely decimated by what we are suspecting to be armyworms. What on earth are the armyworms here to teach me? This is the question. This field has been established for close to ten years – Dad must have put it in before he got so anti-monocropping, which he subsequently engrained into my brother and I. So, we are currently in touch with some entomologists at Iowa State and Illinois and I am sending specimens off in the next day for verification. Hoping we can mow the stems and with any luck the next generation will move on to another field (preferable not one of ours). One fellow thought this could well be described as a “freak” incident, which I am definitely hoping to believe. We refuse to spray, not only because this is the chunk of ground we have under organic certification exemption, but also because we are just so damn hell bent against such blasphemy. 🙂 All will be well – we will manage, in the mean time we scratch our heads and try to figure out how to protect ourselves from a repeat episode in the future.

I’ll leave you in these wee hours with a picture of one of my most treasured places. Gladfelter in the low light of the setting June sun. Ah. Even for an endlessly busy girl it’s distracting enough to pull over to the side of the road and just sit and breathe it all in.

“Sometimes I think the world has gone completely mad. And then I think, ‘Aw, who cares?’ And then I think, ‘Hey, what’s for supper?”
— Jack Handey
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh… now you tell me what you know. ” – Groucho Marx

Hmmm… one might wonder what it would take for a girl to get back on the blogging wagon… just a little taste of spring, and then of course the weather or darkness to drive me indoors. I have been meaning with good intention to write now for at least a month. We all know where the road paved with good intentions leads… alas and however I am finally making a go of it.

A month ago now I got some seeds started on a makeshift nursery bed in my room. It consisted of my 6′ (sometimes referred to as 12) farmer’s market table, an electric blanket that was my grandmothers (surely passing all safety inspections!) and just two bedding boxes left over from last years foray. I rifled through my seeds, gladly passing by those cherry romas that I couldn’t possibly keep up with, and going straight for the Gold Medal and Green Zebra heirlooms. I also diligently planted about a dozen different types of peppers swearing that I would be able to keep them organized and labeled, which lasted all of two weeks… yes, the amount of time it takes for them to germinate. 🙂

So, there remains a beautiful bunch of seedlings happily leaning towards the sun, choosing heliocentricty to any of my mechanical interventions. Rotating the trays is how these guys got displaced from the original labeling system. Perhaps the fruits will reveal the truth later this summer.

I tilled my garden. This is a pretty big deal. Believe it or not, all it took was one year of trying to reinvent the wheel to see that there may be some validity in these time honored traditions. Who knew? I blame my strong German heritage for this streak of stubborn will.It’s amazing what you can do with a few horses under the hood. Most traces of last year’s garden are lying in wait to reincarnate in this season’s bounty. There are a few potatoes that were left to freeze last fall that tease me a bit in my neglect to retrieve all the harvest the plot had to offer, but I take the generous perspective that it was my offering for all that I was given – and that encompasses far more than lambs s, purslane and the stray and strategically planted onion or Chinese red noodle bean. Hours. The incredible hours spent with the dirt and the sunshine and the red wing blackbirds – there is just nothing so gratifying, so nourishing to the simultaneous creative thought process and contemplative witnessing meditation. And I get to do it all over again this year!But, like I said, things are looking a bit different this year. Tilled garden. Straight ROWS of plants. You would hardly recognize this as the same geography. I wasn’t planning to plant potatoes, but I just didn’t have it in my heart to heave three burlap sacks of sprouted potatoes that were resting the whole season through in the basement onto the compost pile. Five rows of potatoes later I was slapping the dirt off my hands with a strong sense of “Wow, this is amazing… I am TWO MONTHS ahead of where I was last year! And I didn’t know it could be so easy!” – the weather this April definitely doesn’t hurt anything. So, in addition to potatoes, the garden is warming encouraging red, yellow and white onions, sugar pea pods, dwarf pak choy, bunching red onions, Swiss chard, three types of kale (specifically dino and red Russian in Tiffany’s honor), arugula, lettuce, daikon radish, mustard (to the chagrin of my bean walking step father), wildflowers, beets, carrots, Chinese kale, popcorn and flint corn. And it’s only April still. This is the kind of spring you fantasize about.This is my brother, Seth, and the one who is responsible for me having any equipment to drive. There may be a few of you out there that are still unaware of my nonexistent mechanical karma… I mean Dad and I would even go so far as to say I had a mechanical karma deficit. Seth, on the other hand, is in my opinion flat out brilliant in this regard. I follow him around the parts store and get distracted by things I could make jewelry out of and bargain hunt for a battery for the Massey and he is ordering plug wires and various other components that may as well be parts for building space craft to an unknown universe, which in effect is kind of what working on trucks and tractors feels like to me. So, I do the books, Seth manages equipment and between the two of us and those we can sweet talk into turning rounds we get some things accomplished on the farm.That’s my seed man turning the soil. That way I could till my garden. 🙂 This is an 8 acre field that has been in cool season hay for two years, but is now part of a SAFE (CRP) program. This summer it will get planted to native prairie. There is a prairie pothole in this plot that we plan to allow to recreate itself. Even plowing you could tell where the soil type was different. The dirt holds so many stories and such a vast history – going slow enough to notice when the engine noise deepens and the plow pulls a little less fluidly slicing through the topsoil you get to learn her history. It is such an incredible feeling to become a part of this land you love. What a dream. What a great place to sink your roots. There are another 16 acres that will be going into wet and messic prairies this year. We plan to experiment with a plot of teff for hay and we are going to start transitioning our cool season hay fields to warm season natives. We are working with a fellow who is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison who is doing research in grazing natives for dairy on suggestions for planting. From a number of sources I have been given notice that what we are working on is fairly cutting edge as far as research is concerned (I’m sure there are some around who have always cut prairie for hay, so I don’t mean to discount that rich knowledge), and that is something I know we are pursuing that would make Dad proud, without a doubt. A powerful way to move forward and meld his spirit and energy into the texture and weave of this land we hold dear. A powerfully exciting and renewing season is upon us.

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.” — Mary Oliver

It’s been two months; that seems like a long pause to me. Even though those two months seem to have come and gone through me like a deep breath. Each day has been long and patient and full in the living of my moments, and in looking back they have so sweetly melded into such a beautiful medley, like how lasagna gets better with time. All full of emotion, exuberance on the spread of the spectrum. Three nice days in October. One of them was the 17th and we pressed apple cider.

Charles McLaughlin, my lifetime neighbor just a quarter mile north of my Dad’s place was an absolutely wonderful host. He is 91. An agrarian his entire life, an avid conservationist and visionary – helped author the CRP program, was a founding board member of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, has walls full of plaques and awards and a life full of admirers and love – and a great many more who have never met the man, but yet hold him in the highest of regards and respect. And me, I have the dumb luck to have been raised as his neighbor. As a child we were allowed in the milking parlor on our best behavior, and we drank fresh Jersey milk out of red plastic mugs, and twenty years ago we pressed cider and it was a special event to feed the apple mush to the younger cows and Daisy and Folly, the horses.

So many wonderful people shared in that day – even some not physically present, but we carried them in spirit. Seth, Tim, Mom, Mary, Lisa, Lydia, Gabe, Sammy, Jana, Rachel, Tom, Andy, their dog Nelly, Paul, Daryl, Claude and Shelly. My close friend, Sarah, we held there – we used the paring knife she sent me for my birthday. I used a beautiful bowl that Tiffany had made to hold cinnamon and sugar for dipping apples. I wore the earings that Christen gave me for my birthday. We used the rooster plates from Dad’s. Chuck didn’t come out to press cider, but studied for his upcoming INHF board meeting, so we all took turns to visit and share our gratitude with him.

Tim and Sam recharge with hot chocolate – they were ace hopper tenders. Gabe presses. Seth took the charge of making sure all life, limbs and extremities were preserved and in tact. Andy filled jugs. Chuck, legally blind, but fervently in tune, watched Nelly fetch. Claude and Gabe climbed apple trees. Mom and Shelly caught apples. Tom and Paul brought apples with them to share. The trees we pulled apples from on Chuck’s farm have been there longer than my memory allows – they were only numbers at the time they were planted – experimental varieties from the University of Minnesota. I was again reminded of how good it is to be the “kid” even at 31, but always in Chuck’s eyes, as no one else has ever been allowed to PICK apples off the tree – it has always been off the ground, because that’s how you know their ripe… and I had forgotten this, and somehow in small towns word gets round, and counterparts to your parents pass this word on that they might be a bit (good naturedly) envious to your parents, and you get that word and fill up. With good. With pride. With love. There was so much wonderful on that day. I got to Dad’s to dump my truckload of apple mush on the compost pile and to share some of the very freshest cider with Dad, and he immediately asks me, as was his tendency for the statistics, how much? I have no real idea, as I’m not much of a numbers gal for a finance major, and I said enough for everyone, which was all I needed to know.

October was full. November started out that way. Dad’s health was failing. The garden was neglected. Potatoes. There are still potatoes frozen hard into the ground – in-garden-compost – I should find the Latin for that and coin it, use it in speeches of managed practice. I troubled to bring in sugar pumpkins and some spaghetti squash and a Garden Way cart full of potatoes – Blues, Yellow Finns, La Ratte fingerlings. Tom came to visit and brought bulbs. We planted them along the south side of the house. They will be beautiful in the coming year.

Dad passed away on the 7th of November. I couldn’t have chosen more fittingly a father who I will carry with me always. I know Seth feels the same. We are so blessed to have had so many wonderful years with a man who knew about filling his. We carry on his projects and his love of the land, his sense of good stewardship, his connection and bond with his community. His presence missed by us, but by the whole – so many kind words of condolence from friends of his, of ours, from family, but we all know we will all miss. We are all the better for having shared in this journey with him.

Yet another project inspired a bit by Dad. He planted a pumpkin patch this year – six hills – it yielded 70 pumpkins – good fertile soil in that composted cattle lot. We went out last Sunday and hacked open half of those frozen pumpkins and with equally frozen hands dug out the innards to take into the house to sort and thaw. Tuesday, before the big blizzard came to fruition I was out there with my ax and hand trowel cleaning up the rest of what was salvageable. I roasted pumpkin seeds for two straight days! Vinegar and sea salt. Cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Soy sauce and ginger. Coconut and curry. Dark chocolate and chili. Bloody mary seeds with fresh horseradish. Plus, some seeds are being saved and dried for next year’s pumpkin patch. I love this idea of saving Dad’s seeds and planting a patch in his memory and each year harvesting and saving seeds to repeat the process.

I want to say thank you to everyone. To everyone who has supported or doubted or participated or rolled their eyes, because really, the only reason you do any of these is because you care. I am constantly surround by, bathed in and overflowing from all of the love you give. My patience, my strength, my humbled moments come from this wealth of companionship, care, community. I am, for lack of a word that more fully encompasses the enormity, blessed. Endlessly. Ame de la Terre will continue postings as the garden venture evolves. I am moving to the Twin Cities in January to pursue my certification in massage therapy. I will be living with a friend who has a back yard, a small garden and a need for plants… hmmm… 🙂 I’m ordering my sweet potatoes now.

“The father wants the girl to be a weather girl on television, or to marry and have babies. She doesn’t want to be a TV weather girl. Nor does she want to marry and have babies. Not yet. Maybe later, but there are so many other things she must do in her lifetime first. Travel. Learn how to dance the tango. Publish a book. Live in other cities. Win a National Endowment for the Arts award. See the Northern Lights. Jump out of a cake.” — Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street) (my regards to Aurora, CO, to living off Colfax, to Mr. Hofsess on this one).
“Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Back, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.”
Charles Bukowski (Women)
I can hardly believe how much I had forgotten that I am most thoroughly riveted with the wit, wisdom and sarcasm embraced by Mr. Bukowski. How true it is that we find distraction, and if so fortunate, an embedded passion that drives us, and carries on in spite of us. My friend, Lisa, recently reiterated a statement and philosophy fulfilled and thriving in the life of a good friend of hers: “if your life’s work can be completed in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.”  Beautiful. True. Impellent.
This past week was not full of marketing ambition, but of sharing the bounty of garden and local foraging with a diverse crowd – which to me is far more rewarding – if I could give everything in my garden away to those who know the effort and toil required, the wealth of heart and soul that is poured into the land and the raising of plants from seed, who understand the full empowerment of knowing how cared for the land is and in turn how wonderful and reciprocating the plants are in appreciation with the explosive flavor of the fruit – that is satisfaction, that is remuneration.sweet corn
Out the kitchen window it appeared that sweet corn shucking was a bonding experience for the circle of folks involved. Activity was abound in the house for the duration of both Thursday and Friday. Thursday was filled with flour flinging and apples – Phyllis, Tiffany and I in team effort created a dozen beautiful apple pies that had the rustic beauty of giant galettes – I will never waste time trying to make a magazine worthy pie crust again, as these had so much more character, so much flare. I also learned the importance of chilling the pie crust before trying to roll it out, and that if you add a little vodka to the crust mix, say a tablespoon, it will encourage it to brown beautifully. We also boiled pots upon pots of potatoes – blue, red, yellow – on a questionable-at-best new gas stove… Phyllis was not a happy camper – so much so that she allowed them to come at 3:45p on Friday to replace it! In the midst of the cooking extravaganza with guests filtering in… unbelievable in phenomenal transitional cheffing  and hilarity.
culianry art

Thursday evening was epic in scope, and soul gratifying in affirmation. That evening I ventured out to the prairie with Paul, Sofia, Dick, Craig and Graham. Paul was giving a descriptive tour to Craig and Graham (both currently of NYC) who are filming for a documentary they are producing about meat in America – Sofia, Paul and Phyllis’ grand-daughter, stole the show with her broadknowledge of monarchs and how to identify their gender. I learned, also, that the monarchs have a favorite forbe on the prairie and that is the Meadow Blazing Star – of no relation whatsoever, I also learned that Patagonia, AZ is the hummingbird capital of the world, with 41 species embarking upon the locale. The evening was appropriately interrupted twice with intermissions in the meal and clean up for proper sunset appreciation – indeed it was spectacular, and as antiquated became more entrancing – we should all be so lucky!fashion sense

Friday morning arrived, and the harvest was on – squash blossoms, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, pattipan squash, lemon cucumbers and edible flowers were among the measure. Phyllis eased us into the morning with a proper cup of coffee and fashion sense to be adorned by all – including Paul and Sarah. 🙂 The day was full of cutting, chopping, baking and frying; camera crews, random conversation, laughter and winks. I mixed a large pot of colorful and addicting potato salad by getting into it bare handed up to my elbows – I convinced that’s why it tasted so good! Jobs were delegated throughout the day – Daryl chopped cucumbers, the guys (Craig and Graham) got in on tomato chopping, as did Annie (in the squash blossom cooking photo) who kept us rolling with laughter – Annie and Tiffany were also responsible for the incredibly popular creations of fried squash blossoms – complimented as appetizers by the grilled Santa Fe peppers (fresh from Tiffany’s garden five miles as the crow flies) stuffed with cream cheese, sweet onions, olive oil, salt and pepper – grilled by me… who had no idea of what I was doing other than to just make them look good – lucky for me I have an eye for good looking food! 🙂 Presentation plus as a former customer reiterated. So much fun for us all, and the weather could not have been more cooperative.wine table

Not to be glossed over was the fact that we had wonderful company for the evening’s celebration of  Niman Ranch pig custodians/farmers, folks who value painstakingly the sustainability and humane causes and chefs who inspire and humble through the taste buds. Steve from Chipotle, Theo (raiser of pigeons) from Whole Foods, a star studded line-up for culinary folk including Rick Moonen, Andrew Hunter, Kent Rathbun, Harold Moore, Brian Wubbena – and so many others who I have grown to have such an affinity for over the course of this season. Thank you to the wonderful hosts, the Willis’, and the companionship and camaraderie of those I was fortunate enough to share space and energy with. A truly magnificent experience, and all rooted in the garden.

“the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
Charles Bukowski (Tales of Ordinary Madness)
“You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it.”  — Wendell Berry
Hmmm, yes, I do believe it is that time of the year most could easily be convinced that it’s just as easy to throw up ones arms in disgust, just walk on, simply toss in the towel and be content in the effort that has been put forth… alas, myself and those I feel closest akin to do not function this way – perhaps at times feeling a bit beleaguered and abused, sleep deprived and short of patience, but never without the passion to carry on in spite of what pressures may weigh. I am sure this is where that helpful notion of balance will eventually prevail… although I am quite convinced in the achievement of such an ideal being a lifelong quest and process.bicycle
With this in mind, I have been trying to live each day simply and in the profound acceptance that these moments are what catapult us from life to living, from functioning to thriving – with all the ups and downs and chaotic and unexpected twists, turns and dives that make this beautiful ride so engaging. Easing into the day with a peaceful and energetic paddle around Crystal Lake with my best friend by my side seems to be the perfect way in which to invite a sustainable tranquility to my pace of the day. We enjoyed the company of many green herons and kingfishers, as well as the disturbing thrashing of breaching minnows, many we found belly up in the melange of pond scum and lake weeds. There was also a large snapping turtle, dead, floating about that we had to investigate (as good scientists do!) and prod with our paddles. This disturbs me, as I think we both felt that these were indications of an ecosystem not in full health, and the concern about a lack of oxygenation of the water prevailed.
Following the indulgence of water was the indulgence of prairie. I decided to harvest prairie sage and red clover blossoms. I think I did a good job of pissing off the pollinators, as I chose only the prettiest and sweetest pink blooms of this waning summer season. Ethnobotany lesson for the blog entry today :

The flowering heads of red clover improve urine production, circulation of the blood and secretion of bile. They also act as detergent, sedative and tonic. Red clover has the ability to loosen phlegm and calm bronchial spasms. The fluid extract of red clover is used as an antispasmodic and alterative. Red clover is used in the treatment of skin complaints (especially eczema and psoriasis), cancers of the breast, ovaries and lymphatic system, chronic degenerative diseases, gout, whooping cough and dry coughs. Red clover is one of the richest sources of isoflavones. Isoflavones are effective in treating several conditions such as hot flashes, cardiovascular health and osteoporosis. Red clover also contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, chromium, potassium, and vitamins such as niacin, thiamine and vitamin C. Red clover ointments are used to treat skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema.
noodle beans

Even though I could easily waste hours upon days in my favorite place, I decided it would be in my best interest to make my way to the farm early afternoon. Lawn mowing and hay cutting were the afternoon’s agenda. Then, with dusk quickly approaching, it was time to play in the garden! These are the fabulous Chinese Red Noodle Beans that grow up to 24″ long and are absolutely phenomenal to both look at and eat in a little stir fry. They are liking the trellis, although I think in retrospect it could be taller, and they are especially happy that I pulled away the grasses and pigweed that were hogging up all the sunlight.nodding sunflower

The pollinators continue to deafen the wandering ear as they flit between the sunflowers and bean blossoms. They are fascinating to behold from the cover of crouching in the tall grasses and “weeds” – their delicate looking bodies taking up such feverish motion. The birds are on the move as well. Snowy egrets and Canadian geese have been filling the sky and the silence. Dad says to be on the lookout for Blue Wing Teal, as they usually start making their way through the last week in August.harvest

The harvest is getting more gratifying and delectable. I’m luck to have any tomatoes on my flat, as an equal amount, or perhaps more realistic ratio of 2 for me, 1 for the box, find their way over my tastebuds and into my belly. Complementing the reds and browns and yellows of my nightshades are the shell beans, noodle beans, lemon cucumbers and Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squash that I am entirely excited to delight in… one of these nights that I’m not working until 10 or 11, however, seem more akin to savoring the sweet summer flavor. 🙂

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” — E.B. White

So, I was out of town all week the previous with my father to Zion, IL (between Milwaukee and Chicago) researching treatment options, and I couldn’t stop thinking about composting. I turned the ice bucket in my hotel room into a compost bucket because I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the banana peels from my free-with-room continental breakfast… and, yes, I dug my father’s out of his garbage to add. We ate at the dining facility and the thoughts continued to whir through my mind… just think about how little garbage actually has to be generated… if only they would compost the food scraps and napkins… I wonder how I could manage to carry mine around with me without grossing everyone out by the smell… and how could I avoid it squishing around and getting all over my things. And, of course this led to Dad and I having a brain storming session about the “composting purse” – I think we are on to something! Even if I’m the only one who ever uses it… the compulsion may be just too great… however, this could lead to habits such as going table to table asking for their food scraps… yikes! Hey, networking anyone? 🙂

orange

Needless to say, it was an energy intensive week for both Dad and I, and filled with great information. I was in dire need of a little plant fix, though, and since the garden was a good 8 hours away for me I finagled my way into getting Dad to join me at the botanical garden. It was a bit of an overcast and sprinkly afternoon when we got there, so we strolled a bit near one of the ponds watching a child harass the ducks – trying to pet them while this child’s parents joyfully chided him on – and through the English wall garden and Japanese bonsai display before a bit of a deluge chased us inside to the greenhouses – there we wandered about the tropical jungle plants (took me right back to Belize!) and also through the arid dessert experience (ah, Baja!) – there was a succulent plant from Madagascar that had medallion shaped leaves and I was mentioning how easy I thought it would be to take one to propagate, even though I know that’s not kosher – and low and behold I looked down and there was one of those very leaves on the ground… I snatched it up and stuck it in my bag, and now it’s in some potting soil amongst my bedroom jungle! Thank you Chicago Botanical Garden!

market table

This is an example of what the market display looks like – Tiffany’s candles on the left – beeswax, and they smell divine like honey – mulberries next to them, my jewelry on display and some baked delicious goodies – produce is on another table.

The garden is the epitome of chaos at this moment, which is why I’m not posting any photos of it’s current state… that would really be admitting my negligent lack of care! It has been nearly two weeks that I have let it all run wild… and you can tell! The mosquitoes have also contributed to my absence, as every time I attempt an appearance, they attempt to carry me off… I’m just going to break down and wear repellant tonight when I go out to harvest for tomorrow morning’s market. I believe this coming week I will tackle some of those weeds and liberate the tomatoes and beans – the 8 foot tall sunflowers seem to be holding their own – my friend, Megan, who’s contribution can be found on the celebrity farmer’s page, is the one responsible for planting those beautiful and thriving ardornments.

roadside bouquet

I can tell my energy is a bit chaotic and scattered as well, as I feel is depicted in the photos I’m sharing with this entry – while I like them, they are not typical of my style. Alas, carry on we do! This is a shot of one of my weekend roadside bouquets – I just can’t help myself but to stop, oh, about five times along the way to Mason City to hop out of my truck (which itself is a bit ordeal like since my parking brake is nonexistant and it’s a manual… turn of ipod, turn off truck, take keys out to avoid that awful buzzing, don’t forget scissors, traipse into the ditch and snip away… ignore gawking passers by…) It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite rituals, and they are delight on the table at market!

This week I managed to process a gallon and a pint of horseradish. Contrary to what some folks have tried to tell me, I have learned that if your horseradish patch is old/mature, you can harvest at all times of the year… mine/Dad’s qualifies… I believe 29 years it has been in existence. Also prepared another batch of strawberry jalapeno jam and harvested rhubarb for another marmalade later this weekend… I mean, is there ever enough time?! This morning’s baking experiments include vegan gluten free cookies made with sorghum, fresh ginger and ground pepper and of course, homemade crackers – this week’s version: hemp seed, flax seed, wheat. Hope to see some of you in Mason City this afternoon or tomorrow morning!

“As time went by, I realized that the particular place I’d chose was less important than the fact that I’d chosen a place and focused my life around it. Although the island has taken on great significance for me, it’s no more inherently beautiful or meaningful than any other place on earth. What makes a place special is the way it buries itself inside the heart, not whether it’s flat or rugged, rich or austere. wet or arid, gentle or harsh, warm or cold, wild or tame. Every place, like every person, is elevated by the love and respect shown toward it, and by the way in which its bounty is received.”
Richard Nelson (The Island Within)

“I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”  Helen Keller

We have done it! We have taken that long and arduous stride of action towards our dream, our passion, our goal – that foot was caked in lead – and, fortunately our perseverance is prevailing, even if Mother Nature is getting her druthers from time to time.

prairie seed

This beginning I speak of is that of planting the prairie and establishing the conservation segment of the farm. Over the next few years an evolution will occur of regression in mimicry of her roots. It is a fruitful and diligent task to establish mesic prairie, potholes and wetlands in an area that was once topographically marshland now dredged and tiled for the ambitions of agrarians. One that we are up to, however. The “beginning” was a day last week – we mixed our expensive forbes and grasses in the old watering tubs we had for cattle and my horse, loaded the Brillion, and Dad set to planting as an impending storm approached – full of energy, color and movement – not so different than ourselves.

looming horizon

This system moved into the area a couple of hours early – this photo was taken around 2pm. I got the equipment put away and the shop and barn closed up, and when Dad came home we stood at the end of the driveway, in awe of the lightning, and swept by the cold wind rushing down from aloft – it was absolutely exhilarating. Since that day our project has been on hold, because the next portion to plant is in the peat ground east of the runway and it does not dry up with any expediency. Yesterday I was back on the Massey with the little tiller fluffing up a beautifully tilthy seed bed, so with any luck today the planting will resume. I also spent some time on the 2520 with my worktunes and NPR keeping me company while I drove in what felt like incessant circles mowing what will soon be worked up in an attempt to kill the existing sod so that more prairie may be seeded in the autumn.

The garden is growing so emphatically. She is in a constant shift of motion and energy – right now the cabbages are showing off striking yellow blossoms, while the golden snow peas and rat tail radishes are providing the abundance of fruits. The red romaine lettuce is enjoying a break in the heat and humidity, and continues to provide the contrast in color. The borage that I planted amongst the strawberries and dill is vigorous, and the purple blooms arrived recently to my enthusiasm. I finally broke down. I am no longer a weed-free gardener (as in expenditure of energy), and have gravitated to a more weedless version of my experiment. It will never be perfect, so to speak. but it gives me a goal to keep in mind – and I think the plants are ever so appreciative as they now are allowed to bask in the full glory of the sunshine. Once again, those weeds came in handy, and I am resolute in my interpretation of them as both cover crop and green manure. 🙂

I have finally gotten my jewelry shop up and running on the internet. This is a fantastic speed bump to have traversed, as I have been putting it off for quite some time. For those who are curious, the shop can be found at www.capriciouslyquixotic.etsy.com – the interpretation of the name being something along the lines of whimsically idealistic – which I feel I am a victim of with a far greater frequency than I care to admit, although to those who know me this comes as no surprise. A sample of my work lies below.vail

As if I needed another reason to have a preoccupation with the atlas, right? Torturous and inspiring to the gypsy soul. 🙂 Another fun sidenote is that I now have a grasp on the functioning of the acetylene torch which tickles me to no avail!

Looking forward to a minimal week of markets – both the Clear Lake and Mason City markets for Saturday, the 4th, are cancelled, so if you want any goodies for the weekend, the Friday market in Mason City will be the place to find myself and my wonderful and enthusiastic counterpart, Tiffany (she has been bringing beautiful and delicious kales and greens, and her fused glass jewelry is spectacular!!).

“By the choices and acts of our lives, we create the person that we are and the faces that we wear. By the choices and acts of our lives we give to the world wherein our lives are lived, hoping that our neighbors will find our contributions to be of worth, and hoping that the world will be a little more gracious for our time in it.”  -Kenneth Patton