Winter Wonderland, and a whole lotta woodchips.
We've finally got our ducks (well, cabbages and carrots) in a row after what felt like a whirlwind vacation that I still can't believe we managed to take. Turns out, plan your escapes months and months in advance, pay in full, and you'll find it's hard to back out at the last minute, try as you might. (I have to say though, I'm glad we couldn't back out. Even though the amount of anxiety-tinged preparations that went into cushioning our absence from our dear farmbaby was nearly enough to justify hiring a sherpa to hoist our worries around for the whole 2 weeks, the pure pleasure of getting to come back was worth it.
And the trip was spectacular. I'll allow exactly one more sentence before I quit reveling in our good fortune.
We went to China, it was vast, it was smoggy, it was gold and glitzy, it was the kind of trip that confirmed, "Yup. This place is far more complicated, beautiful and confusing than I could ever hope to suss out in a matter of days. Better come back one day and bring our penchant for weak but plentiful beer with us."
Okay, that was possibly, technically, more than one sentence. But hold on, for I'll definitely need more than one to describe the Winter euphoria I've felt upon our return. In the travels I've been lucky enough to experience, I've found that even when departing the places I've come to love and even dream of an ex-pat future, there's the giddy anticipation of returning home.
Inevitably, you see the special in all you've come to regard as ordinary at home. The smell of the trees that grow by your driveway, the taste of coffee that only tastes that way when you make it at home, even television commercials or views from a well-positioned chair. In this case, I was also pretty stoked to return to a country with some semblance of air-quality policies.
For me--and since I have the tendency to wax flowery, nostalgic and with no shortage of half-baked philosphy-- returning home meant basking in the frankly, damn amazing fact that we have a beautiful farm, that me and my partner run together.
The first several days back I was wheezy and sick, and while I coughed and whimpered on the couch at home, Alex hurried out to the farm to tell me the good (we hoped) news of how our dear dribbling and needy near-one year old farm had fared.
He called me to say,
"It looks great...
It looks really great."
After my whiny convalescence I ran out to the farm and indeed, it was great.
In fact, it looks and feels terrific.
You can feel the changes of winter, in your hair (static much?) and bones there's no shortage of feasting for the eyes. The vegetables look beautiful and I'm reminded again and again why farming is as close to art as anything with its colors and shapes and heart-breaking views.
And apart from the lovely landscapes, wonderful things have been happening all over the farm.
The ladybugs--who had taken their own vacation during the fall--have returned in numbers.
The covercrops sown in our future Spring field did perfectly and were finally tilled in this week as we begin to move toward planting Spinach, English peas and Broccoli Raab.
And the geese. Oh, the geese. Hundreds make a twice daily sojourn over the farm, squawking and honking all the way. I pause working for every flight and watch them go. (Alex warns me about watching open-mouthed.) I've yet to learn their species or even exactly what they look like, but I find their gleefully noisy flying V a joy that brings me peace every single time.
There's so much more I could list; I'm so grateful to have this wealth of happinesses. We had a large delivery of mulch from a tree-trimming service that happened to be nearby. All I did was wonder and ask, and before long they happily dumped a gigantic amount of otherwise-expensive woodchips at our farm, all in exchange for 3 cabbages.
So, I guess all this manic effusive happiness comes down to this...for a real whiz-bang of a Christmas/late Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice present to yourself, pretend that you've gone on a far-flung vacation from the life you know. Go there for at least 2 weeks... well, make-believe you did at least.
And then come back home. Look around. Your life is sweet. Some have got it sweeter than others, absolutely, and there's some crud lingering around as well, sure. Yet I guarantee there's something delightful that happens to you and yours that you can cherish once you're back from Togo or Myanmar. I'm thankful for the geese and free mulch and slow-growing weeds in Winter. I'm thankful for y'all, every single bonehead that happens to rake their eyes across my tiresome ramblings.