August is a crybaby
August is a monsoon
August is a bloom, and bloom, and bloom.
I started picking the collard greens again, after their long summer hiatus where drought and bugs kept them down. Cleaning up all the bad leaves and leaving them in their neat and ordered rows felt like getting children ready for the new school year, trying to tame their wild summer selves back into line. Haircuts and baths, new backpacks, new shoes. The wild anxiety and excitement of school and fall and apples and recess and football games. Somehow all of that feeling, tied up into picking leaves. These collards are fresh and tall again.
I’m trying to tame myself back down into an orderly person for my offseason job. September looms, and I have to get it together. Send emails. Print posters. Organize myself and others. But many many parts of me are saying “noooooooo.”
Two weekends ago we headed up north to camp at a friend’s farm, butcher some chickens, canoe down a river. We drove up outfitted by our mom— the canoe that has sat in our yard my whole life boarded up on dad’s old truck rack that somehow magically fits our truck. Lifejackets, tents, my camp stove “just in case.” It feels great to feel totally prepared for anything. A wild thunderstorm bore down at night, causing several tent failures. We were snuggled up, collectively, in the two tents that have held me ever since I was little, survived many canoe trips, zipper repairs, and portages. Our tents held, and nothing has felt more symbolic.
We canoed down the gentle Turkey River, and I stretched my paddling muscles. Jay stroke, C stroke. Rudder, rudder. Trying to help the dear boy fish as we coasted downstream, chicken liver on the line, we caught nothing. We caught everything. The end of the journey swept up way too fast, and we were back on land, back in the truck, all over again.
I’ve been reminded of my wildness self— not wilderness, no thank you colonialism, no thank you John Muir— but wild as in uninhibited, unrestrained, the me that can guide a boat down a river, flip a canoe up and down by herself (yes, thank you, I’ve still got it), the me that knows where she is and has all her things on her back and has no limits on what she can try. After, I rewatched the slideshow from my long arctic canoe trip, and I feel so proud and tender towards the little eighteen year old me that Did That. Heart wide open, paddle in the water.
We did so many things to connect with dad this weekend. We made gorp (Good Ole Raisins & Peanuts) the traditional way— peanuts and raisins and m&ms etc in a metal bowl, mix it with your hands. Pour it into a gallon ziplock. Fishing with a kid, trolling from the back of the canoe, throwing my paddle in as a rudder instead of actually paddling. Pointing out trees and a juvenile bald eagle. Wondering. Wandering.
For the most part, I love farming so much, so deeply, because it allows me to be outdoors, all the time. I love the commitment of growing in one place, of doing right by the soil, of doing better than the last year. But I really missed something about the motion of a canoe trip, the motion of moving and feeling contained, and utterly free of the bullshit except what is in your own head. On a farm, you can get burdened by trash, by a weedy field, by feelings of obligation and guilt that are truly just coming from yourself but are very real none-the-less. It’s easy to get weighted down.
How do we offer ourselves the lightness of travel from one place? How do we balance the needs of our bodies with the same view every evening? How do we set ourselves up to farm cooperatively, so— as a friend said yesterday— we all have enough money to go on vacation once a year?