Autumn is creeping in, sooner than she came last year, and I find my creativity and energy being rekindled. (Summer, you are nice in your way, but Autumn and Spring are my true loves.)
Tucked as we are into a little valley, we don't really see true sunrises or sunsets, but I've come to love the sunbursts here and there behind the trees. Above is the view from the pasture, looking back at the little old house (can you see the glint of light off the chimney?), on my way to let the ducks out of their house in the morning.
My little garden has been pretty this year. I grew yellow runner beans and eggplant and tomatoes and borage and basil and peppers, as well as a big bed of kale and that gorgeous purple shiso (tastes like cinnamon.) I'm discovering that I am much more interested in the colors and textures of the garden than its productivity. I like wandering around and picking a few strawberries or cherry tomatoes, or bringing in a pepper for dinner; I love walking among the plants and touching their leaves and smelling their fragrances, learning slowly how they will grow through their seasons - but the alchemy and urgency of large-scale food production seems out of my grasp.
I write poetry, I grow flowers. ( I'm thankful I have a theology of creation and beauty or I might start to feel rather useless. *wink*)
The past few years I've been reading a lot on permaculture. I love the economy of it, the way everything has multiple uses, how functions stack on each other, how nothing is wasted. This year I grew runner beans, nasturtium, kale and a honeysuckle bush in front of the rabbit pen. The pen provides structure for the vines, the vines give shade to the bunnies, as well as leaves and fruit for food. The rabbits give us good manure for the compost pile and free entertainment and love. (Those are my nephews getting treats for the bunnies on a recent visit.) The whole beautiful cycle makes me happy.
Farm truck, with a garland of honeysuckle. My husband will "fix" that right away, so I have to take pictures while I can!
I was shocked to find grapes when I went behind the front yard fence last week. We planted the vines years ago as a way to help erosion control on the hillside and to add to the privacy and sound screen from the road, but we have never had fruit yet. What a treat! The walnut tree was planted by one of the jays or (more likely) a squirrel many years ago and has gone wild, hanging over the fence and creating a cozy tunnel to walk through. Mark says we need to prune it, my friend warns me of the messiness of walnuts, but everytime I see it my inner little girl lights up with the delight of a secret, quiet green space.
I am slowly adding to my herb garden. I planted the melon sage early in the summer and it is a favorite of the hummingbirds and bees. Once when I was out watering a hummingbird visited nearly every one of those red flowers while I stood only inches away gaping at his beauty. I go out every day to see if he will come back, but usually it's just me and the bees out there. You know I talk to them, thank them for coming, thank them for doing the hard work of pollinating the garden. With so many bees dying around the world I feel enormously protective of them and so glad we've got these five little pesticide-free acres to help provide them a home.
Up on the pasture, the blackberries and hops are in full bloom growing long and thick over the ducks' covered pen. Since we put locks on all the gates and covered the top of the pen with wire we haven't lost any ducks or chickens. I love that they are completely safe. Now that I've stopped eating meat again, I've regained that sweet peace in my inner self when I'm with animals, an integrity within me that knows I truly mean them no harm. It's a feeling of honesty I treasure and although I know it's not the same for everyone, and that it even seems silly or foolish to others, I hold on to it with great peace and gladness.
Construction on the tree house continues in its makeshift way. Every year I think it might be the last summer that anyone has interest in it, but every year so far I have been wrong. When I meet other kids my own children's ages, I often think how glad I am that we have lived such a free-range life, each child developing at his or her own speed, without the pressure to be more sophisticated or worldly-wise than they are ready for. I've got three adult children now, and one teenager at home and the only thing I would have done differently is to give them even more time, more space for dreaming, more food for creativity and passion.
In the forest, one of my sons has been busy trimming and clearing branches, making firewood for next summer's campfires. The green plant you see is lettuce leaf lichen. Lichens are bioindicators of clean air, so it always makes me thankful to see their bright green presence in our woods.
It's nearly impossible to take a picture of how beautiful it is in this tucked away space, but I never walk through here without expecting almost to find a Jacob's ladder, some portal from this world to the deeper reality of God's world. Just between those trees there, in that shaft of light, surely there is a host of angels traveling to and fro. This morning I thought, "Here is the one place on earth I feel completely seen and understood, completely known and cared for and loved."
I told a friend a few weeks ago that I am finally at the place where I've quit holding myself to other people's definitions and standards, particularly in the church. I've always felt safe and known when I stand under the gaze of God, but almost never when I have stood in the gaze of other christians. It has taken a long time, but I have grown confident and that confidence allows me to not be defensive or wounded when I'm around others. For the first time ever, I've enrolled us in a local homeschool group (Classical Conversations). When I went to the orientation meeting this week one of the directors came and sat next to me, introducing himself as the pastor of the Most Upright Reformed Bible Presbyterian Holiness Church (not really, that's just how it sounded to me) and asked where we worshipped. I told him the truth: that we don't know...again...that we don't know how to belong to evangelicalism anymore...that we want to worship in our own community but we don't know what that's supposed to look like yet...that we are hanging out with the Episcopalians right now and liking it. After I said it, I didn't look at him, I just spent a moment weighing how that honesty felt inside. It felt right, and I wasn't afraid of his reaction. I am able to hold my differences without fear or the need to make others understand my view. To my delight, I've found that I like the people very much, and while they have taken my differences in stride, I know that even if they don't, I am okay without their approval and I can still like them for who they are.
Why does it take so long to learn that most of our trouble in getting along with others has to do with what's going on inside us, and not necessarily them?
Ah well, I've talked your ear off this morning. There's so much more going on, life is always so full of opportunities to grow and learn and love, and I hope I'll get around to talking with you more.
Thanks for walking with me today.