Tuesday, April 21, 2020

We are only visitors

Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. 
But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship
a one-way street into a sacred bond.
– Robin Wall Kimmerer

Fifty years ago tomorrow marks the first Earth Day. It was organized as a teach-in on college campuses by Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, who had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. Today, it is the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people committing to a day of action to change human behavior and create policy changes. Well, at least that was the case before a pandemic swept over the earth...

Since we are sheltering in place, I will spend Earth Day 2020 much as I've spent every day of the last six weeks. I'll rise and go for a walk along the paths. I may collect some edibles along the way. I'll probably toil in the garden until Ed finds me to go out into the fields and woods, hunting down and destroying invasive plants. Later, we might stop at some of the 1000+ trees that we've planted to clear the weeds from their bases, fertilize and mulch them. We might divide some perennials in the Bee Garden, or add a new layer of wood chips to tamp down the weeds. The grass needs mowing and the fences need weed whipping. The list, as always, is unending.

Ed and I have been grateful to have this work this spring. Our days pass quickly; we fall into bed well before 10 p.m. with a duel sense of achievement and exhaustion.

We are the caretakers of this patch of land; we understand that we do not own it. Sure, we possess a legal piece of paper that says it is ours, but we know...we are only visitors.

The Moment
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

RIP, John

We've been fans of John Prine for a long, long time and were saddened to learn that he died last night from complications of the coronavirus. In his memory, I'm republishing a blog that I wrote 10 years ago when we were just dreaming of moving to the country. RIP, John. 

Eat a Lot of Peaches
At the Palace Theatre on Friday night folk singer/songwriter John Prine put into song a description of what I hope our life on the farm will be like. In his Spanish Pipedream, he sang:

Blow up your TV,
Throw away your paper,
Go to the country,
Build you a home,
Plant a little garden,
Eat a lot of peaches,
Try an find Jesus on your own

The song goes on to talk about a topless dancer doing the hoochy-coo, which sounds kinda kinky.  And I'm also not sure Ed would be willing to blow up our TV as he is quite fond of Jeopardy, college football, golf and Modern Family. But I really like the part about planting a little garden and eating a lot of peaches.

John Prine in concert on Friday night
John Prine also sang about the glory of true love, which seemed especially poignant to me as Ed and I celebrated our 25th anniversary earlier in the week.

Oh the glory of true love
Is a wild and precious thing
It don’t grow on old magnolias
Or only blossom in the spring
No the glory of true love
Is it will last your whole life through
Never will go out of fashion
Always will look good on you

You can climb the highest mountain
Touch the moon and stars above
But Old Faithful’s just a fountain
Compared to the glory of true love

So here's to my true love. May we move to the country. Plant a little garden and eat a lot of peaches. Check out that hoochy-coo thing. And, who knows, maybe even find Jesus on our own...