A Different Lens . . . Till and Plow in the Brain
January 03, 2011
“Can I laugh now?” a childhood friend asked after reading about my pruning plunders in the last blog. Yes, Mary, you can laugh now!! And please, keep laughing. The laughter of friends supports me, bringing me strength especially now in the face of all the learning and hard work I have ahead!
Isaac, the garden manager at the farm confirmed that he would leave at the end of the year. Needless to say there will be a few adjustments. Isaac has been my guide and “guru” and a feeling of panic sets in when I anticipate his absence. In preparation for his leaving, every day Isaac is downloading to me what he’s done on this property for the last two years. I’m taking it all in as fast as I possibly can. In addition, he continues to teach me the basics, not to mention the oh-so-very-important pruning techniques I lacked when I unknowingly destroyed some precious (even rare) innocent bystanders- ugh, still reeling with horror about that. Every day we review both his notes and mine; my never-ending stream of questions parlay into Isaac’s robust explanations that transform into vast veins of garden knowledge. I am in awe at the breadth and the scope of it all.
I furiously take notes. There’s so much to absorb. I’m sure Lisa and Isaac can read this in my face, like the startled stare of a deer in the headlights. Isaac continues his daily tutorial, providing maps to me for six vastly different gardens and their mixed histories that have been influenced by weather, bugs and more. He then hands me a guide weighing more than a telephone book that identifies good and bad garden bugs, molds and viruses. His personal notes are invaluable; they are pages upon pages of everything I need to know and hope to learn over the next year: seeds and seeding techniques; succession planting schedules; garden prep, composting, tillage, bed making; plant care and maintenance; pests, disease, weeds, harvest, crop and greenhouse management; mushroom cultivation; perennial artichoke care; strawberries, raspberries and fruit trees; hoop-house management, seasonal extension and over-wintering on top of all of this a never-ending flow of general notes and observations. Yikes. And no doubt, Isaac shares a true gift.
You may be wondering as am I, how am I going to survive this. This mountainous information overload is daunting. But I think I’m fine, really. Everything is okay except for the sudden waves of anxiety and panic that surface. Where’s the Ativan? I try to hold steady as Isaac methodically attempts to till and plow the little gray cells of my brain with as much knowledge as it will and can bear. I can only hope it’s as fertile as the good earth around me and that the seeds he’s planting so patiently will not only take root, but flourish and bear great fruit.
What gives me peace of mind and spurs me on is Lisa’s trust and faith in me. She not only encourages me but also demands that I start trusting and using my instincts, even after I destroyed some precious plants on her farm. My brain bursting, Isaac has moments of impatience regarding my lack of employing common sense (a topic of future conversation), and Lisa is championing me on.
Just about every day, someone on the farm shares rich observations honed from years of living close to Mother Nature. About a week ago, I was talking to Aimee, a volunteer in charge of dutifully collecting the eggs at sunrise and sunset, no matter the weather. Like Isaac, she too grew up on a farm and has the refined eye of “reading” the animals. Sharing one of her many insights she said, “Oh the hens know winter solstice is over.” “How’s that,” I asked? “Why they’ve laid four times more eggs today compared to what I’ve been collecting daily over the last month. They know the days are getting longer!”
I know I’ve sought out these new adventures and challenges and I welcome them in. While honing my instincts and living close to the earth, one of my wishes for the New Year is that I continue to develop this new way of “seeing.”