Monday, July 18, 2011

High Summer

It is high summer. There have been times in years past when we hadn’t been able to get into the garden for weeks at this point, the weeds having overwhelmed us. We started out with ambitious plans when we marked the center of the universe all those years ago. One might say that they were too ambitious, or that we failed a lot, or were overwhelmed, or didn’t know enough. None of those explanations quite satisfies me though.

We had this idea of a life, and of what it would take to live it. And we embarked on that, all the while also living in the dominant paradigm, and that was what was too much but necessary. And we learned and we evolved. And we still participate in the dominant paradigm albeit differently.

We’re no spring chickens here but we can work more than most people half our age because we’re used to it and because we value it. Things do change some as we get older – we’re a bit more aware of our limits because we aren’t immune anymore if we happen to breeze right past them; there are some aches, some stiffness, some caution sometimes.

I run in to people who tell me about thinking about how they will garden as they get older. My mother’s husband did it by raising his beds, container gardening, and (mostly) paying slaves to work for him. A guy I knew on the internet was going to do much the same but the real estate market fell out from under him and he’s disappeared. A lady at the barn (hi Tess) was recently talking about it as we discussed us both having round gardens and what we did with paths between deep beds and the use of machinery and Gene Logsdon. I’ll give Tess this: she’s the only person I’ve ever met, ever, who was familiar with all the agricultural writing that I’m familiar with. It is pretty cool to be able to reference Fukuoka, Jeavons, and Berry (and even Gussow) without having to then try to explain what they were talking about.

I think this thinking about getting older is common because getting older is happening to every one of us. But I think it is a lot like when one is getting ready to have a child: There are a lot of assumptions made that turn out to just not be true, and if you raise your child (or age) according to your assumptions rather than in accordance with your experience and values, then you miss out and wonder what in the heck happened.

The truth is, I have no clue what getting older will look like for me/us. Just like 20 years ago, I didn’t know this house would look quite like it does. I can still see what I thought it would look like in my head though. We had a direction we were going in, and a vision, but the manifestation of that vision inevitably looks different from what you imagined it might. We have a cooperative family: It is my hope that that continues and evolves and serves us all but lawd knows there is no model for what that could look like.

One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t need a huge garden if you don’t have a lot of people to feed, and if you have a lot of people to feed, there are a lot of people to work a huge garden.

One thing I’ve learned is that nothing has to look any particular way – it just has to function.

One thing I’ve learned is that there are things you can’t control and even wanting to is a danger sign.

Danger Will Robinson. Danger.

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