Sometimes I sit down to write and after a few lines I erase, shut down the computer and walk away somewhat puzzled. I wonder who would want to read what I have to say. Then last night after an exceptional yoga class something dawned on me.
I am 67 years old. I have had many varied life experiences. I have acquired wisdom. Sometimes the school of hard knocks taught me well. The wrinkles I have are well-earned in both the laugh lines and the worry ones. Somehow I have raised three children who all have much to offer this world. Much to my own surprise, I have managed for 16 single years to maintain this farm and businesses. In my orbit are a wonderful group of intelligent and fine friends. Love and abundance surround me. I must have something deserving of sharing through my writing. Just what shape that may take the next time I sit down to compose I am not certain. But, I no longer feel inadequate expressing it. At least that’s the clarity I got last evening. We’ll see if it sustains.
For weeks and weeks I eagerly anticipated my time away. Alone. Traveling to see family and loved ones on the mainland. The farm in capable and caring hands. Seattle – Santa Fe – New York City. Three weeks. It was epic. My heart was full of joy seeing and spending time with people I cherish and whom I do not get to see often enough. The weather was brisk and gray mostly in Seattle, which I found to be a marvelous contrast to home. That city has a certain allure for me. Santa Fe’s glorious high desert landscapes thrilled me and spring was strutting her stuff. New York City was cold and windy, just the right climate for long city walks in my old haunts. And the tulips were everywhere and their colors psychedelic. I got to wear my favorite jeans, boots and even fleece! I ate amazing food. Drank some fabulous wines. Explored bookstores and boutiques. Laughed and even cried with the dearest of my dear ones.
When it was time to come home, I was truly ready. Pulling up in the driveway at the farm and seeing all the care that was taken while I was away was a true validation. My sons and their partners are nothing short of awesome. The sheer volume of the different shades of green was soothing to my eyes after the grey skies of Seattle, the monochromatic colors of Santa Fe and the duller hues of Manhattan. And to sleep in my own bed! That alone is worth a trip away just to experience it upon returning! And pick a salad for dinner from our gardens. Nirvana.
The first morning waking up here, I tried to not see all the work that was ahead of me. I walked the farm and attempted to just see the beauty and bounty. My mind kept wandering to making mental lists of the projects (there are always projects!) I had an internal tug of war making myself keep coming back to just how very lovely it is here. On this island. On our farm. In my home.
I have lived here for almost thirty years, just less than half my life. Raised a family here. Became single again here. Worked long and hard to continue to ground myself and my children in the intention that first created this place. That is a lot of living and loving. I thoroughly intend to travel more and see the familiar places and people I adore. And explore new ones also. But, for now, I will always come home to North Country Farms. And always be glad to.
There is no place like home.
The human touch. Vital.
Just now I had a fine and fabulous hour and half of body work. It was exquisite. There were knots I knew I had and some she found that were surprising. Time was taken with tender deep work to unravel and relax me.
What I realized at the very end of this time, as my head was being massaged and her sweet intuition realized the nirvana that I had reached, was that just being touched in such a sensitive and caring way was, in itself, healing. Not just the untying of the chunks of overworked and tense muscles, but the touch.
Having not been in a romantic relationship for years, I miss touch. Not sex, necessarily, although that might be just fine also. But, touch. Cuddling. Thankfully I have a community that treasures hugs, as does my family. We all need that loving touch.
Forgive me from quoting a commercial a ways back from some communication company —
“Reach out and touch someone.” Trust me, they will feel better.
Recently a friend sent me a beautiful and bountiful book called “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison. Aside from being a visually stunning book, it is full of wonderful recipes. The friend thought it was somewhat cheeky of him to be giving me a book about growing and serving vegetables, about which he assumed I knew more than enough. But, wrong he was and I have spent hours reading this book and even trying a recipe or two. Here is one I liked. With worlds of Swiss Chard currently in our garden, as well as cilantro, this was a natural choice!
Chard Soup with Cumin, Cilantro and Lime
8 cups trimmed chard leaves (about a pound or 20 leaves)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion sliced
1 potato sliced
1 carrot sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
cup of finely cut cilantro leaves
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
freshly ground pepper
grated zest and juice of one lime
Chop the chard coarsely. Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion, potato and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, smashing it into the veggies and then add the cumin, coriander, cilantro and chard leaves. Sprinkle salt, cover the pot and allow the leaves to cook down lots before adding 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, cover partially, and simmer until potato has softened. Cool slightly and then add sour cream and puree in blender until smooth. Return it all to pot over gentle heat. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and stir in the lime zest and juice. Should serve four.
While I still hold onto my own little piece of the planet and the goodness we grow here, both in the gardens and in our hearts, I find each and every day a part of my spirit wilts knowing what an abysmal man we have at the helm of our mother ship, America.
And just this morning, while I read aghast once more, the expeditious and evil things he is implementing just days after taking office, I realized that my disgust for him as a person might even exceed my distaste for his ill-guided and insidious policies.
Trump is a buffoon. But, he is also a vile man, whose continued lack of respect for women is nothing short of shocking. Selfish and seriously disturbed, the very sight of him makes me cringe.
There, I have said it. And now I can get back to the work of doing whatever I can, in my own small way, to counter the repugnant actions this repulsive man is enacting.
Today’s winter solstice — darkest day or return of the light? I truly feel that right now we so strongly need the metaphor of the return of the light. If we dwell, emotionally and spiritually, in the dark, we can become both bitter and hopeless. Acknowledging that the light exists in each of us may just assist us in bringing that forward. I cannot tell what that might mean to you, but I do know that just simple kindness can be potent. Opening up our hearts when shutting down is a normal response to the state of both our country and the world can be a powerful antidote to this darkness. Let that little light of yours shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.
I fell today. Without attempting to explain the physics of the event, suffice it to say it involved a wet tile floor, soap, scrubbing and me. I came down hard and fast onto my hip. Hard enough to see stars and utter several unladylike profanities. As I lay there for a bit gathering myself and assessing to see if any real damage had been done, I contemplated that falls like that are dangerous at any age, but no joke at 67.
I don’t know where my mind was when this occurred, but I do know it wasn’t on the task at hand. After recovering I got to thinking that I was obviously not totally present when it happened. It was a shocking and painful reminder to move more slowly and consciously. To be walking down the stairs when I am walking down the stairs, not thinking where I’m off to at the bottom. To be aware that I am getting up on a slippery tile floor when doing so, not thinking about what I have to clean next. To be lifting that hot boiling pot of pasta to the sink when I’m lifting that pot, not pondering the sauce that will be going onto the pasta once drained.
Cultivating mindfulness has so many facets and so many benefits. It can improve our lives in a myriad of ways. And in this case, could have saved me the giant lump on my hip which shall be turning so many neon colors soon enough.
Be here now.