While writing has always been a dream of mine, I have a strong tie to the earth too. I come from good pioneer stock - My grandmother's childhood in Minnesota was so close to the Laura Ingall's books it's amazing. You might think writing my first novel would satisfy my need to explore that part of myself that is not tied to my roll as a Mother of five children and two step-children. The part of me that is not defined by how many soiled diapers I changed today or what fabulously interesting things I can do with half a pound of hamburger, a random assortement of veggies, and leftover broccoli salad. (Creative in the kitchen I am not!) Still, there is more to my dream than being a novelist.
As long as I can remember I've always wanted to farm. I grew up on an informal farm - we had a pig, chickens, a pony and a dairy farm on the back five acres. As an adult, I worked in the horticulture industry for several years, happy to be working with plants and dirt. Last year we moved to five acres and inherited, with the property, an overgrown berry patch with several kinds of berries, a bedraggled apple orchard (I couldn't even begin to guess when the trees were last pruned), and some really prolific cherry trees. So of course I thought, "Hey, why not start an organic berry / veggie farm?" This would be a great way for me to get my hands back in the dirt, and a farm is a great place for kids to learn responsibility and teamwork. With children and step-children coming and going all the time, we are continually looking for ways to introduce positive elements into the family dynamic. Farming has it all: Goals,values, hard work, rewards, and some tasty produce in the end.
So yesterday found me outside with the whole family in and around the mess of a berry patch. We sorted out about half of the berry canes, pulling the dead ones away and tying up the new growth. Craig strung new wire to train them on, and we got them standing up tall and tidy. The older kids watched out for the toddlers, while we adults risked life and limb (read: scratches and more scratches!) to get the job done.
Nothing better on a crisp February day than a bonfire we all agreed. On the heap went the dead canes along with some windfall branches we'd gathered up, the dried up Christmas tree followed, and a roaring bondfire ensued. Watching the children's faces as they stood around the fire and poked their sticks into the flames was wonderful. The warmth from the blaze made for some very rosy cheeks, and the magic that is a bondfire was felt by all. Eventually, with dusk falling, we all trickled inside to clean up and start the Sunday evening ritual of dinner, baths, and stories before bed. What a weekend! When they were all finally asleep, I settled onto the couch with Craig and let my mind wander back over a perfect Sunday. My 10 year old step-daughter Amira's comment as we both basked in the fire's warmth came back to me. "This was a great weekend!". A simple, five word sentence lets me hope that as parents, we just may be doing something right.