Weekend Farmer

"Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done."

from The Farmer, by W.D. Ehrhart

As a weekend farmer, I get frustrated. I leave for work in the morning and see the weeds coming up in the mulch, and there's no time to stop and pull them. On my way to pick up the kids, I see a plant drooping, and I hurriedly bring over the hose and give it a quick spray, leaving the hose maddeningly tangled over the paths.  I see Tom quickly repairing a nail that's come loose after taking out the garbage in his work clothes at 7 a.m., rushing to get to the train on time. On my way to a meeting I notice a perfect strawberry ready to be picked - oh, there's another - can't get to that now. I arrive home in the dark and notice the package of seeds on the front porch; they'll have to go into the seed-box in the fridge, for now.

"I'll get it done this weekend." I must say it ten times a day. The list runs long by Wednesday, things begging to be accomplished. Between trips to school, work, and activities, between loads of laundry and dishes, between meals cooked and dogs walked, precious little gets done on the farm during the weekdays. Oh sure, a little extra corn for the chickens, a pea pod or a hundred picked for dinner, a quick glance at the bees to make sure pollen's coming in - that's about all there's time for. Even as I write this, I'm staring at the minutes of a community meeting that need typing up. I also just heard the washing machine beep. Or maybe that was my head popping off?

Some of this is just the season - spring is naturally a busy time in the garden. Some of it is pressure we've put on ourselves, trying to get the rest of the infrastructure done ASAP (and is that really necessary?). Some of it is the rush of the last term at school - extra projects and performances and testing. A lot of this will calm down once the middle of June hits, when everything that's going to be planted is planted, school is out for the summer, and all the building we're doing is finished. So I look forward to that time, when I know I'll be able to take a breath.

And I'm lucky, because after all, on a real farm, there would never be a breath, except maybe in the winter when the snow is deep. That's why this is a hobby farm. We get a lot of our sustenance from it, yes, but it's meant to be a respite for us rather than a stress. True joy is found with a shovel in our hands, or with aching muscles at the end of a good day's work, we've discovered. Satisfaction comes when we've provided a delicious and nutritious meal. The rewards are so many, as one astute friend recently reminded me (while asking me at the same time, "when do you SLEEP?").

So we plug on, weekdays for the world, weekends for the garden.

"Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden"

from Woodstock, by Joni Mitchell