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.