September 2, 2011

In the Weeds, Part II

I could come up with some caption here about how uphill paths are usually the ones that lead to something greater, but I think it would just come out sounding like one of those terrible motivational posters you see on the wall of a high school counselor.
The last time I wrote about being in the weeds, I was literally in the weeds.

The last few weeks though, it's the figurative weeds that have been blocking my view.

There's not much I'm comfortable writing about here just yet, but suffice it to say, the last few weeks (well, years really) have thrown us into facing big things like what "home" means and how much place matters and how sometimes, growing just where you happen to land can lead to a shallow root system.

But when the questions looming are that large and in our case, largely out of our hands, it's just easier to tackle the small things.

And, that is healthy, to a certain extent. Like, instead of worrying about where we're going to live this winter, I first work out what we're going to do with all those beets. Or, instead of stewing about whether we'll ever actually be able to own a farm or a piece of a farm, I rearrange the living room furniture again.

Jacob and I are constantly talking logistics. Logistics about the day-to-day operation of the farm, of our delivery schedule, of our upcoming farm party, of dinner and lunch and car tires and cupcakes for Willa's birthday party. Or, lately, logistics about building permits and irrigation equipment and buy/sell agreements and FSA loans and septic drain fields and backhoes and trailer houses, or yurts? or modulars? or just building a house? or finding another house in town to rent?

With each little detail, with each little patch of "weeds" we lose sight of the sky. We lose just a small bit of the big picture. Until, it's hard to see anymore at all.

In our hurry to worry about our meeting with the county sanitarian, we forget to dream about where Willa will climb trees or where we will someday sip coffee on a porch and watch the sunrise or how, with just a little piece of ground, we could change the way we, and our communities, grow, eat and value food.

I remember, sitting at at tiny kitchen table in a single-wide trailer three years ago this month -- when we first decided to farm on our own -- sketching plans for a farmstead, writing down what we wanted in a property, dreaming about what it would be like to do it, to actually farm.

Back then, we wanted nothing more than to just get on the ground, get our hands dirty.

Now that we're doing it, I'm sad to find that in all the doing and working, we've squeezed out that sense of imagination, the craziness, the hope and the promise.

Today, the weeds cleared and for a few hours -- hopefully more -- I felt a little of all of that creeping back in.

And dang, it feels good to dream again.


What do you do when you get into the weeds?


  1. My mom does something that really works for me. When she gets overwhelmed with the minutiae of life, she says to herself, "Is everything okay *right now*?" And since she's given me that advice, I find myself murmuring it when everything seems to be completely out of my control, and astonishingly, everything usually *is* okay right now. Sometimes it's better than okay. Sometimes it's a gorgeous day and I'm doing what I love (but worrying about how I can continue to do it), and so it's nice to emerge out of the worry for just that little minute, and look around.

  2. Jonathan and I stole this from "What About Bob," Bill Murray's blockbuster 1991 comedy, but I swear it really works and we have used it in the past to great effect:

    We take a a vacation from our problems.

    Just for a day. A whole day. We just don't talk about them, we don't worry about them, because we are on vacation. Sometimes it helps to "refocus our energies" and we come back to our problems with ideas we never had before. But sometimes it does nothing and we go back to our problems exactly as we left them. Either way, we got head space.

  3. I saw a sign the other day that said "Worrying about tomorrow doesn't make tomorrow any easier, and it takes the strength out of today."

  4. Well, doing some weed control could do that to your imagination. After you do your tasks though, you get that sense of accomplishment and the freedom to do something else you want.



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