Fall Blossoms, Fresh Grass, & New Lettuce

For a brief moment earlier this week, I felt a huge sense of September-style relief. I had just met a big deadline. Whew. Then suddenly the nights got deliciously chilly, the mornings even chillier, and the cool, crisp dawn air seemed to wrap around me like clean bed sheets, letting me know the peace and quiet (and rest) of autumn and winter were on their way. This was a calm feeling I needed to imbibe, because in a flash, my dance card began to fill up again, and I found myself anxious and wondering why my so-called simple life can get complicated so quickly.

The truth is that while I should feel grateful for the success I’ve had as an author, many days I am resentful of the corollaries that fall out from that. Not only is my time not my own right now, but I have to force myself not to work in the garden—my Zen place—because it is too time-consuming, and too low-down on the priority list. Of course I still do my farm chores and harvest for the farm stand every morning, and it’s then that I try not to think too much about looming commitments—book signings, photo shoots, media events—and stay in the moment as much as possible. I wish I could keep that feeling all day, but I just don’t seem to get it from other activities. I’ve written about this before, but I often feel a distinctly spiritual aura when I’m outside on a beautiful, breezy day, maybe walking Farmer down the long path through the fields behind us, goldenrod blazing in bloom against a cartoon-blue sky, bees buzzing, geese honking, milkweed crackling. Or simply just crouching in the bean bed  in the garden, picking and tossing, feeling my hamstrings stretch, chuckling at an overgrown bean the size of a small corn cob.

Right now I am capturing (and holding) little bits of joy in a couple ways. First, there’s lettuce. Roy knows how much keeping the garden going means to me, and in only a few evenings of work, he dug and hauled away the dead tomato plants, re-dug the beds, and planted six new rows of lettuce for me to make salad mix for the farm stand. He’s also been clearing a lot of brush and junk with the tractor, building a new storage shed for my garden stuff, and getting ready to build our hoop house. And just today he re-fenced a new area for the chickens so he could move them on to fresh grass; they look so lovely and happy milling around in all that green. When we stop to look around, it is nothing short of exhilarating to see the farm we are building with this little opportunity we’ve been given.

Secondly, there are the flowers. I am tickled to death by all the blossoms in the garden who are turning up their noses at the threat of cold weather. (They’re smart, really—they know frost is still a long way off.) The eggplants are still blooming, the cosmos are rioting, the beans we planted in August are flowering like crazy, some of the cherry tomatoes are still blossoming, and Libby’s Ring of Fire sunflowers just started opening. There are zinnias aplenty, and marigolds and nasturtiums, and garlic chive blossoms and borage. Russian sage. Coneflowers. Cucumber blossoms. And my birthday rose—the one that nearly died from a delayed transplanting, is not only once again covered with leaves, but it just offered up a new bud this morning. Maybe it will bloom when my next deadline is past. I can’t wait.

8 thoughts on “Fall Blossoms, Fresh Grass, & New Lettuce”

  1. In a sad way, I was happy to read this. I often sit here in suburban CT and imagine that you–on that Vineyard farm–are somehow above it all. It’s my version of the “geographic cure”–if I could move to a farm on a storied island, why, I’d be just fine and all my stresses would blow out to sea. So, we all do the work, wherever we are.

  2. As much as I enjoy your posts, I hope you find a way to prioritize your time in the garden. Success always seems to carry such a high price.

  3. David, I know, we all do this. Ack! I felt kind of bad posting this, but at the same time, I think it is necessary for me to write about it–I am my own worse enemy sometimes (What was it that St. Paul said about how we tend to do exactly what we know we shouldn’t do?) It’s partly cautionary to myself–like, whoa, watch where you’re going. I am still not very good at just saying, “no.”(And I also need to remind myself how important it is to my well-being to spend a certain amount of time outside.) But also, I need to just be a grown-up about some of these responsibilities that come along with the writing/cooking thing that I would rather not do. But I do really try to grab on to gratitude most days as my life out here really is sweet and wonderful (and you probably won’t want to hear this–but much less stressful than the old life!). Ah, well, complicated subject as you know. Thanks for keeping in touch. I am still laughing about Lucy and the chocolates!

  4. I know what you mean about the peace of the outdoors and being a part of it. My husband and I just moved from Texas to Kentucky and we are starting to see and feel the signs of fall. What I love most about our new place is the back deck where we can spot glimpses of wildlife in the mornings or evenings: deer, turkey, squirrels, birds, chipmunks. And while I’m working (or procrastinating) in my at-home office, I get to enjoy hummingbirds coming to our feeder.

    I’m moving into a very busy spell with work, so I don’t have the time to enjoy nature (or getting back to my crafts) as much as I’d like. However, I recognize the importance of purposely fitting in the times and things that refresh my soul so I am able to keep going each day. And so, I will do my best to buckle down and work hard, but I will also be sure to take a breather now and then to enjoy what I’m working for.

    Good luck with your schedule shuffling. 🙂

  5. Good for you, Nina–it’s so important. And I bet Kentucky is gorgeous this time of year–sounds like you don’t have far to go to get refreshed! Good luck with your work, too!

  6. Susie… You amaze me! Book number three and a memoir, all the while savoring the beauty of nature, the simple pleasures and Roy and Libby. You are an inspiration.

  7. Hey — yes, I got it and I captured your email now too–oh, boy you’re in trouble!! Don’t be amazed or too inspired as I haven’t called my dear friend Liz in eons and was JUST thinking about you as I do most days…anyway, the first-time comments have to be approved so I get a notification on me email–that’s why there’s a delay, but I got it and a big smile…might try and call you from the road on monday…much love and courage, susie

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