In The Morning Light

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When I walk into the morning light of the field, the grasses below are soft and succulent, of green. Hundreds of grasshoppers shimmer a flash in jump as though they are peeling the seas as I amble through the pasture. Their scattered hops sound of rain as they land newly leafed elsewhere. Ragweed leaves sag with new found jumping companions and blades of grass are made iridescent with the winged creatures weighing them heavy.

There is a persistent purr of chirps orchestrated by all of the bugs of September. The sound that is here today, with errant cricket songs, is the one that will be blanketed by the white of winter. (And there will be joyous rest in that silence, too.) I am taking note of the fertility today as I feel the seasons changing, and I am writing it as a reminder that I reveled in these seasons. I drank the nectar day after day and I continue to sip from the well of great fertility and grace.

A buoyant field of goldenrod gently bounces with the breeze and with the sun it makes gold layered upon gold. This morning I woke to the proud stalks of goldenrod and sunflowers and I wept. A human could not dream a more beautiful life than what is presented here in our days on this beautiful Earth.

The trees are changing ever so slightly in color, with the cottonwood seeming the first to layer its yellows and lose its leaves, gently shedding each day. Much else is still lush, green, and giving. Warm pears are plucked from the trees and in so a bowed branch is released upward again. Worms are delighting in each fallen fruit that comes to them sooner than to my hands and they rejoice in the plenitude, as do the chickens. My kitchen smells of homemade apple sauce and simmering pear, and my grandfather’s concord grapes scent the September air, sending me back to my youth and I am waist high all over again. Except this time, I am taking steps in becoming my mother and grandmother. Each gift in the grape they have instilled into me I practice now to pass onto another, waist high or otherwise.

I will be singing of the morning light and the evening light long after I have returned to the soil and come again in the golden morning. Each thread of day, of year, of season, of moment, is a golden bath unto its own. And here we flicker in the jubilant seas like the grasshopper iridescent in the rays, shining long into the day, pretend alchemists to the already gold.

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Notes From a Rainy Market Day

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They predict an inch and you are in for three. Or more.

The Earth decides the way of the rain, and whether the gladiolus will rot or bloom,

If what is planted will strive or shrivel,

If fungus will be the final word.

If there will be enough flowers for the wedding, and which will be the surviving variety upon which celebration rests.

No one can prevent the course the Great Mother takes, though we may pray for healthy crops, we cannot demand that hand.

We can hope next year is better. Or next week, or month, or weeks until the frost comes.

There is comfort in the camaraderie of fellow farmers.

Everyone is in prayer and a furrowed in-flexed brow wears upon each forehead.

At least I know my sheep has a break from the mosquitoes and heat in the shelter from the downpour.

And though adaptations prove difficult for humans and animals to move from 70 degree weather to three sun’s heat over 100 degrees, we will find our adjustments.

And though the roof leaks, and the basement floods, and the field (in places) holds water –

I have a roof. I have a basement. I have a field.

And, thankfully, the weather and seasons flux with the ephemera of a flower.

May the elements be on our sides.

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The Land, She Provides.

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Scrawled in many-a-journals lies the repetitious message that each In-Between merits authoring. I can be prone to mulling in my days, wondering what is worth it to mark with words with a document that will last throughout time. The fact of the matter is that each day we go through is significant because it is a place where we have never arrived before. The day might be wrought in pain, but it is a different pain, or confusion, or celebration unique unto itself.

Now is the time of a great In-Between for me, filled with a plethora of unknowns, frustrations, surprises, insurmountable gratitude, hope, and faith that is growing from seedling to solidifying sun grown stalk. I am the sunflower with its seed hat still cusping the tender small leaf and it is no doubt we mirror one another right now. The sunflower may be asking itself in the field, “Am I going to grow? Seriously? What if I don’t? What if my flower is weak? What if I never get a flower? And if a curious and derisive wind pummels me in a snide fury?” and the ever popular follow up question, “…then what?!” is the caboose of each question mark. And the flower says, “I don’t know. This is my first time being a flower. I still have my seed hat on. In the meantime, I’ll just get some sunshine and water, and we’ll see how it goes.”

And likewise in my own days follows the internal dialogue that of a self questioning seedling. A litany of uncertainty followed by self mentoring that this is my first time farming by myself and I will just have to give it my all, give it lots of sunshine and water, and see what happens above all else. I spend a lot of time in my own company and lately I have been instating mental laws like, “If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, then you can’t say it to yourself,” knowing that if I am going to accomplish anything flower farm wise or creatively, beating myself up and questioning if it is all going to work out or not does absolutely no good, and is in fact energetically combative.

The last two weekends have brought me my first solo farmers’ market experiences as well. I have been selling bouquets and sewn handmade goods. I have included hyacinths in many bouquets, alongside muscari, and the errant non deer chomped tulip. I coupled those flowers with some apple and cherry blossoms, newly budding branches, phlox, lilacs, sprigs of evergreen and cedar, and elements of dried grasses that still linger tall in the prairie. I felt those bouquets resembled the true world of spring. The last couple of weeks have exemplified that glorious sweet spot of spring where the whole world is in bloom and nearly each specimen in nature is first a flower before a leaf, before all else. There are pent up buds moments away from unfurling at any moment. What seems so compact and days away from emerging its wild show of color and true form only takes hours, an evening, a piece of day. You forget to check on something in one day and the following day the world reveals more of its natural progression and surprises.

Now is an especially exciting time because this farm home of mine is new. Though I visited the place contemplating buying it last summer, much was already green and leafed out. I never got to experience each living thing blossom and become. And indeed, there were many features of this land that I knew nothing about and have made themselves known to me only now. Not until spring began to thaw the fields did I know that there was a huge strawberry patch out in the field. Tonight I had the pleasure of weeding the patch of still green berries and flowers as the sun set. Two geese flew by sounding the pastel melt of night on the horizon, Venus a’glow from behind. I stood tall with old daisy flea bane stalks in hand and a clump of rogue grasses plodding soil below from its hanging stance. “Some great force is on my side,” I felt. Overwhelming peace was among me in the strawberry patch, thinking, “The land, she provides. Don’t be afraid.”

I turned to look back at the house and could see the reflection of the lingering bits of orange cream sun pastel and milky in the windows, warming the view. My ram stood silhouetted in the distance, watching with quiet. I stood awash in a gratitude resounding in my body. There in the strawberry patch lied no need for fear. “Everything you need to eat will come from this soil. Sow seeds each day, and you will be okay.”

I have not mowed any part of the land since I have moved in, and in doing so I have found many surprises that would have been dormant, unknown, and destroyed had I taken the shears to all that grows in the name of “keeping a nice lawn.” Last week revealed lamb’s ears and salvia. Today revealed many tiny maples, the beginning sprigs of a rose bush, and an entire peony eager with buds! With glee ridden bones I smiled and hollered a pleasant “AWWW!” aloud. The raspberries and blackberries are getting bushy bottom leaves. The apple and cherry blossoms are long spent and now preparing their fruits. And since many of the trees are fully leafed the air lends itself to a percussive sound that was absent in the hanging winter silence. The breeze hushes a new tune between the trees, soft harping among the leaves. I rise with dirty paws, bulbs in tow, and watch the beauty spread through the pasture with a praise that never tires my eyes with old. I could watch the silver backed leaves chime the live long day and never cease of its unexpected silver, nor would the sheen that rivers in the wind ever reside predictable.

Sunny was also sheared for the first time over this past week. He was so round appearing to have no neck. As I clipped his jacket off he appeared youthful and relieved to be unburdened by a year of wool. The wool closest to his body was a deep, silken black, saturated with a musky lanolin that I would put my nose to over and over again. I massaged the lanolin into my skin and repeatedly brought my hands to my face, breathing in. The large masses of wool clipped were placed into a bag and the smaller pieces attempting tumbles and release in the grass were tucked into the top of my summer dress for collection. My chest was coated in lanolin, grit, and bits of wool sticking to my sweat and oiled skin. It was a day that warranted a good shower at the end but I refused simply so I could go to bed smelling myself and rolling over catching scents of lanolin and sweat in the night.

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And so here I am, writing in the wavering depths of the unknown, with a sometimes alarming sense of peace. There is fear, oh there is fear. But fear has no space allowing its rule of me. I am feeling the love and support of my friends, family, and new community members I am meeting through the farmers’ market and feeling there is no option other than for good things to come on this farm. There will be trial and error, there will be failures and successes, good weather and the poorest. There will be everything, because that is living.

And to be living is so, so good.

The Day I Picked Your Flowers

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Under the waning leafy canopy of the poplar
Stars unfurl as a laced umbel of the prairie.
Cows breathe to my back among the choir of night.
Frogs and crickets voice a percussive air
While the atmosphere crisps into a dew,
Beading in the lamb’s wool.
Evidence I’ve lived pulsates through my body,
Each venous throb a reminder of the day.
The husk cherries pulse.
The zucchini, the greens and beets,
Asters and amaranth.
Resting soft lips on warm sheep’s horns,
And the little boy who fancied himself as a ram.
Laugh-crying in the field
With harvest companions.
Dancing in the carrots, feet bare to dirt.
The monarchs ambling in pasture tune,
Goats sunbathing in a sea of golden rod and lingering Queen Anne’s Lace,
All of the wild aches within the knees.
The new crescent moon curling its thread above,
My bath of sediment where the day washes from my skin.
My dawn began with a hen revealing under breast and wing
Chicks singing that Mother has Warmed them into Living.
A testament of all to come nestles
Among a satisfied belly of what has been had.

Abby Rodriguez (September 2014)