Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Lighter Than Air

Despite last week’s surprise snow, things seem well on the way toward a season change now. Other people have crocuses and daffodils. I don’t know where mine are; maybe the moles ate the bulbs. My Lenten rose is MIA too. Weather Underground boasts 71º next Monday and Tuesday and I will have to decide if one of them is an adventure day or if they are both work days.

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All the spring flowers I have. The deck pot of narcissus my mother always asked about is oddly empty.

Monday is definitely a work day. My far away sister will be in town and it’s my in-town sister’s day off (this month anyway) and I’m putting them to work on the “farm,” pre-installation painting of 450 feet of trim for baseboard and door frames. But there’s still Tuesday. Perhaps next week’s blog will be an Adventure Log.

After the Friday snow, Sunday was a spectacular day and I pulled on my boots and headed outside while my cute floor installer and his weekends-only side-kick finished putting in the beautiful hardwood floors that didn’t quite get finished while I was away.

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(Paneling removed, to be drywalled and painted. Stay tuned.)

There were maaaaannnnny tasks to choose from and there is no point in prioritizing them because they all have to be done. Maybe I should have chosen preparation of the raised beds in my vegetable garden, but I haven’t even ordered seeds yet, so pffft. I could have repaired the fence and gates, or pulled out the bricks in the walkway the moles destroyed last autumn. (I’m considering inhumane measures for those fiends this year.)

I could have picked up winter blowdown in the woodlot that used to be meadow that I didn’t pick up the last two springs, which was a big mistake. Or maybe the fir branches in the meadow that have to be gone before the first mowing. Or cleared trails from overgrowth and downed limbs. Or returned to my mother’s garden (read that story here), or any of the other flower beds that need to be weeded and mulched. I could have cut up the small tree that collapsed into the far corner of the meadow and is in the way of the mower, and is where this year I hope finally to follow through with my idea to mow a labyrinth.

But I arbitrarily chose to scrape the fir needles and silt from the edges of the driveway before it started growing. It was a task I knew I could finish and that wouldn’t take all day. I gained a foot of pavement on each side and hauled three wheelbarrow loads of the rich loam down to a long abandoned strip of vegetation where the soil washes down the hill. I will probably  never try to make it beautiful, but I will show it what love I can. Maybe the daisies and euphorbia will be happier. I can hear my mother saying, “Nothing will grow there. It’s not worth your money.” It’s almost enough to make me want to try.

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As I continue to read stories my father and his siblings wrote about life on the Michigan farm where they grew up, I ran across one about how my grandfather eased the plow-pulling horses into spring work after the relative ease of their winter workload—mostly just pulling the wagon of milk to market or the sleigh for Sunday family excursions. He took care of his horses so they could take care of the farm, and hence the family.

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My grandfather and my father. c. 1918

I’m taking a page out of his playbook and easing my aging body into the work of spring. There was much more to do, the weather was perfect for more, I still had energy, and there was an extra hour of late day light. But I stopped. I had done three hours of heavy work, it was enough for early season.

As I put away the wheelbarrow, shovel, and blower, and straightened my spine, I was both pleased with having finished the task and overcome with the heaviness of all there is to do. For one thing, I had ignored the blackberry vines along the driveway that need to be pulled out before they cross to the other side. I shook it off. I did one good task, there will be other days.

Before I went inside, I sent a message to a local Facebook friend who works with the local Girl Scout council, asking her if she knew of a troop earning money for opportunities. She responded immediately that she does. Many hands make light work. I will hire out the winter blow down…and maybe the blackberry vines too.

I returned to the house as Chris and Corey were loading their tools. Corey, who had been there alone on the weekend, told me a story. He had left the sliding glass deck door open and a hummingbird flitted inside. He followed it around with a broom trying to coax it toward the door. The hummer was having nothing of it. Finally, exhausted, it lit on the corner of a windowsill and sat trembling with fear. Corey scooped it up and held the tiny quivering being in his cupped hands as he went outside to release it. “It was so soft,” he said in wonder, “but it was lighter than air.”

It reminded me that I have a choice as I care for my family’s beautiful property. I can choose to see it as a burden that has been dumped on me and weighs me down. Or I can choose to see it as a privilege lighter than air. Either way, I am the guardian for now, and I reap both the responsibility and the good fortune.

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This morning.

6 thoughts on “Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Lighter Than Air

  1. Your Adventure Logs signal a new season for me, so I sure hope you go ! I’ve got “The Spit” on my radar for next week and either ONP or some Oregon coast hikes for the week I’m off in April ( or maybe both ! ). Everything wants our focus this time of year. Cheers to choice and free will when deciding what gets our attention. “A privilege lighter than air” I love that ♡

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  2. Beautiful. I love this lighter-than-air view Gretchen. I think it could be a powerful life mantra all the way around. I miss sitting next to you at 5:30 am on Whidbey Island writing our little hearts out. 😉

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