In our little corner of the world, we grow at least half our own food.
Sounds exciting right? Glamorous? Like something from the popular new wave of Food and Lifestyle television programs profiling hip young farmers and off-grid social rebels.
I wouldn't know. Our tv antennae picks up 3 channels, one of which runs only shows that were prime-time hits before I was born. (That was a long time ago) The other 2 are great if you want local news and weather, the last remaining network soap opera and a handful of trashy staged-reality circus sideshows. Still, once or twice a week there's something interesting being broadcast, and it's a practical way to keep up with what's going on in the outside world, so we keep it.
Many days, however, I just don't feel like tracking mainstream America or it's denizens. Sometimes I pull my rock firmly over me and hunker down in Leighland (where everyone is happy and nobody does mean things). Fortunately those days are few and far between. Life as a writer/farmer/photographer is solitary enough as it is.
On days when the Grump-o-meter is high, I still draw energy from others. Sometimes, even I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, determined to avoid other humans, but the remedy is usually a simple, light-hearted chat with a chum or two. Perhaps that's as it should be. A sort of built-in biological reset button for cranky humans.
I'm not immune from acrimony in the summer months. Punching a clock isn't so bad when you're faced with the countless things that can go wrong on a farm any given day. Once the snow melts and vegetation began to green up, our chief tasks are to clean up winter's leavings, assess the condition of infrastructure, and plan for the growing months ahead. Last spring, we found that sadly, our bees died. Quickly, we got in touch with our apiary supplier, who fortunately lives just down the road. By chance, he happened to have an extra colony available. Feeling lucky, we set up the new hive, crossed our fingers, and continued with the business of the season. Those wonderful new bees gave us 72 pounds of pure, white honey! We decanted it into clean, shiny pint jars and stored it safely on the top shelves of the pantry. My husband was resolute.
"This is all we've got. We have to scrooge it." He said, using yet another word he'd invented, as is his custom.
"Oh please," I teased, "There's more here than we can possibly eat in a year! The bees will make more, you know."
"Hopefully." He said, gathering the pints and cradling them on the way to the pantry. "Maybe not. They might die again like last year's bees. You never know. If we eat it all now- or over the next little while- we may not get anymore for months!"
He was right. We didn't. That hurriedly placed second batch of bees died in the mercurial hot-cold spring of this year. It was very upsetting. Funny how anyone can mourn the death of stinging insects, but grieve we did. Especially because it was too late to install yet another colony.
Scrooging honey- or anything else for that matter- is by definition, the expectation of future need. Even scrooging myself on a cantankerous morning fends off all the great things that could happen, if I let them. To loosen the proverbial heart strings is almost never a bad thing. Opening myself to life's events has always been hard for me. Like many, I tend to keep the door to my soul guarded. Less chance for injury that way. As I age, however, I find that leaving the door undefended is more helpful.
Fear and uncertainty are unpleasant at best. But I find when I'm forced to face a situation instead of retreating to the relative safety of Leighland, I might emerge with battle scars, but with a better, more comprehensive understanding of what makes others tick, and the world go 'round. As I mentally connect the dots, a celestial map appears, calling my attention to why things happen as they do.
Scrooging takes planning and discipline. But flinging wide the cupboard door takes fortitude and faith, two qualities that no one is born with. Earning moxie comes with practice. Willingness to peek out from behind the refuge of a shielded gate takes time and is never, ever meaningless. Releasing your inner Scrooge only frees up more space to accept the frightening and unpredictable, make use of them, and grow.
Even the death of bees can hold a teachable moment. It gives us a map to navigate our future as farmers and stewards of our land, moving forward, letting all those moments, pleasant and not so pleasant, tell us what we need to know.
"Go take a hike, and find a little happiness!" says Julie Gorges of
Baby Boomer Bliss
Sounds good to me!
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