Saturday, May 9, 2015

A perfect hour on the farm

 Last week I hit a sort of low point in the garden. The apples were all pruned, and huge chunks of bare, goat-gnawed branches littered the tall orchard grass where dandilions were going to seed. The neighbors' least valuable toys and soccer balls would get kicked or tossed over the fence into the tall grass on rainy days and forgotten till I half heartedly pitched them back. Naked dolls, handles of push toys. Things no one really wanted.

Noah's schedule had consumed whole days of time and no gardening got done. I'm so proud of my son -scoring a T-Rex role in a play, going to math competitions, scouting. But. Nothing. Was. Getting. Done.

I am a daylight gardener. I'll work in the mud and rain. I'll sweat on hot (for Seattle) days, but I draw the line at working at night. But one night I knew I had to do it, and hauled all the huge branches through the damp grass into a huge pile.

The next day David mowed the lawn, and a sense of normal began to return. Everyone thinks goats will mow the lawn for you but this I know. Four goats cannot mow half an acre to any respectable standard.

Last night I hurried home from work for a six o'clock meeting with some folks in our neighborhood who wanted the apple wood. I didn't know them but I knew they were fellow urban farmers and like minded people.

I pulled up exactly on time, grateful that my work clothes are informal enough to do some good yard work when needed. I handed out pruning implements and we all went to work breaking down branches in to manageable bits.

The first honeysuckle flowers of the season were opening on the deck. The air was full of their waxy fragrance, which is best in the early evening. One or two flowers can fill a whole yard.

The purple flowers of the sage only let out scent when you brush by.

As we
wheelbarrowed loads of twigs to their van, the hot sage and the lazy sweetness of honeysuckle combined with the dense honey ripening in the hive and the grounding, not really lovely smell of iris and damp branches.

The goats had greeted the newcomers joyfully but then, with unusual politeness, retreated to their grazing patch, the fenced of area that hadn't been mowed.

We worked well together. Although we didn't know each other, and I'm somewhat socially awkward, we hit it off quite well and talked about travel, philosophy, apples and the changes in our region since we all arrived, twenty to thirty years ago.

Then it was seven and I had to go get Noah from his show.

The folks who visited left all the pruning equipment in a neat pile in the wheelbarrow. They double checked that the gate was closed, and drove off as I went to get Noah.

It occurred to me that it had been a perfect hour. Outside, perfect temperature, doing work that kept me moving but didn't tire me or get my clothes dirty. The animals and plants were on their best behavior, there was good company and a convenient end time. Perfect.

Some of the least planned and least expected moments can coalesce like that. Trying to create them is crazy making. I think some of our most annoying holidays (I'm looking at you, Mother's day) are about trying to manufacture such moments artificially. You can't. All you can do is be present for them when they choose you.

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