Notes from Three of Earth Farm

Someday I will be too old and frail to do this work. (Can it be today?) Then I will look at these notes and remember I once did it; and maybe even be glad I no longer have to.

After painting the inside of my kitchen cabinets last month, last weekend I painted the trim on the six large windows across the front of the house, which entailed taking down the blinds, which I can’t get back up correctly.

You’ll have to trust me on this: it was brown and now it’s grey.

Then the sun returned. Finally.

In the past four days, I cleaned the roof; pruned the quince; painted the plant shelf outside my bedroom window and planted the succulents I bought on one of my pre-house-arrest adventures (it seems like a life-time ago); weed-eated, whacked, and pulled the years-overgrown St. John’s wort that was headed for yard-takeover; cut down the huge and despicable pampas grass, finishing with a borrowed power tool!; repaired my wheelbarrow so I could clean up the wort and the grass, made more difficult on the steep uneven ground; almost finished weeding my vegetable boxes and added compost and top soil; did the weekly Zoom yoga; and finished a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and started the third one just so my brain keeps up with my body.

I also learned to do mark-up on photos.

Three of Earth Farm has seen nineteen nights cancelled, and of course no new reservations as prime season returns. I’m eating the muffins. Things are tough all over.

This weekend Joanna Powell Colbert was coming to the Farm from way up north to write with me for four days—our personal retreat. I am mourning the loss of the time with my friend. We will Zoom. It’s not the same though, is it? Still, I am grateful to be living in these times with benefit of social technology.

Joanna wrote these words on her blog last month:

It’s ok to be afraid, loves. Acknowledge your fear, pat it on the head, tuck it inside your shawl, and rock it to sleep. And do whatever you need to do to bring yourself back to center. Again and again and again.

Breathe deep. Touch the earth, even if it’s a leaf in a potted plant. Pray like crazy. Dance! Meditate. Make art. Boost your immunity. Wash your hands. Reach out to someone. Ask how you can help. Love each other hard. We’ll get through this. 

As sit-on-the-deck-in-the-sun days arrive, I have two library books left, including one from my sister. Times will get desperate soon.


Today I’m going to the produce market. Within an hour I will be sure I have symptoms; maybe before I get home. Channeling my mother’s hypochondria. Defying the experts who insist sickness comes up to 14 days after exposure.

Next week I will take life into my hands and go to the grocery store. I’m running out of wine, coffee, and ice cream—the three essentials. I’ll have my masks, though! Haute couture! Somehow I doubt other shoppers will be protecting me with their own masks, but I will show my love for them. I will go during early morning senior hours; if you’ve got it use it. I won’t tell anyone I work the land in my spare time and am stronger and healthier than the average “elevated risk” adult and some younger ones too.

Daughter Emma says they are coming down next week (we have all been uber cautious the past month); and if they get stopped for violation of Stay Home-Stay Healthy, she will say they are going to take care of her elderly mother. I will put them to work and act old.


Meanwhile, the sun keeps rising, the moon goes on setting. I went to sleep to the hooting barred owl and awoke to a reprise.



And in these high holy days on the Christian and Jewish calendars, it seems our Sabbath/Shabbat will continue indefinitely. What if that isn’t a bad thing?


Poem: Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath  —
the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love —
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

— Lynn Ungar


2 thoughts on “Notes from Three of Earth Farm

  1. As usual, spot-on, Gretchen. Thanks for putting into words so much of what many of us are feeling.
    Stay safe, avoid yard work accidents (who would dare go to an ER with an injury these days?!), and enjoy those muffins!

    Liked by 1 person

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