January 29, 2009

I should be out working, but I find that writing clears my mind. Last night someone in my community drank and drove. I almost used the term "decided to drink and drive", but, I don’t think at the time these things occur decision-making comes into play much.

The person in question came away with a misdemeanor DUI, a very damaged truck, and some assorted facial fractures….or at least that’s what is currently known. It got me to thinking how quickly and irrevocably life can change. The expenses involved in an offense of this sort are, by design, devastating. As are the expenses involved in paying for medical care without insurance. In a matter of minutes, one person finds themselves in a very deep hole that was completely preventable. Yet, there isn’t a single person alive who at one time or another doesn’t wish they could have a "do-over" for some error in judgement large or small. And I also can’t help but notice that even when our decisions land us in dismal places, there can be a patch of light. In this case, that the driver will live to see another day, and didn’t kill a car full of other people. That there is an opportunity to learn a very painful lesson and do better in the future. And maybe, to remind the rest of us that our choices rarely, if ever, affect just us. There was a time when I felt full of self-righteous condemnation toward anyone who would drink and drive. While I do not condone the behavior on account of the risk to innocent bystanders, I’ve learned that snap judgements don’t accomplish much. How does any of us want to be treated if we really screw up and recognize it? Everyone knows the answer to that one, except the perfect folks. Not sure why I’m even writing in a farm blog about this, except that weighty matters find their way into many places.

 The garden has officially begun to turn the corner of productivity. After weeks of scraping for enough produce to include in my CSA boxes, I found myself with a little too much. Suddenly the 180 collard plants that barely fed everyone are poised to become the garden version of a Public Enemy. The little lettuces aren’t so little, the mustard greens are poised for a takeover, and the spinach is bounding forward. Of course, every silver lining has a cloud….the water shortage continues to loom larger and uglier on our agricultural horizon. As with everything else in a local or national setting these days, clouds of gloomy uncertainty hang over everyone’s hopes and aspirations. It just really needs to rain, but for that, there are no guarantees.

The 2009 seed and tree order was completed this week, to the tune of about $700. That’s not too bad of an expense for us, but it’s interesting. In years past, 80% of that cost was for trees, 20% for seeds. Now it’s 90% seeds, 10% (maybe) trees. The good news is, sooner or later an orchard is full. I bought a medlar and a mulberry and one more European pear. What’s a medlar? Who knows, but it sounded interesting!

January 17, 2009

My life is really schizophrenic. Today I received a call from someone I met at a farm festival, who was thinking of moving right here to Arbuckle. After the conversation, I started musing about my life "before" and my life now that I’m firmly ensconced here in the rurals. 

Thursday I had a very focused day organizing the greenhouse in preparation for the next battery of seed starting. One of those things where you take everything outside only to decide how best to put it back inside…it felt like Accomplishment. A little Order exercised over the eternal Chaos that is Country Living. Then Friday I went to San Francisco. I had a voice lesson and did errands in an orderly fashion. I enjoyed some time in the food world of the North Beach and relished that there are still establishments where the entire staff speaks Italian. Then I returned to Arbuckle, and had to break up a rooster gang rape and sew (not kidding) a hen back together. Maybe another way of saying that is, one minute I’m singing a Handel aria, and the next minute it’s blood and guts and why didn’t I butcher the roosters two months ago?

But really, I’m glad of the schizophrenia. I am fortunate that life is a patois of shotgun blasts, beautiful singing, violins playing, cats yowling and tractors roaring. I think if life is composed of too much of any one thing, one loses sight of how unique and marvellous that thing is. It’s good to move around a bit, and remember that other people live vastly different lives, although living not so far distant. And I hope that other folks get to move to Arbuckle and enjoy the contrasts as well–I didn’t tell the lady about the night sky and how she’ll see things in the heavens after dark that are rare and beautiful in our clear, unlit skies. There should always be surprises and things to look forward to.

 Now it’s time to quit typing and work to finalize a large seed order. And then find more new apps for my iPhone that came two days ago. The old alongside the new, keeping life…..yeah, schizophrenic.