Friday, March 4, 2016

Looking for Hope

Birdhouse Gourd.
In the interest of being totally and truly authentic I must confess that I have some serious Depression issues. Although I am most plagued in the Winter months when days are short and can be gray and dreary too, I struggle with it year round. Most of the time it is just my own malfunctioning neurons, but sometimes it is the world around me that weighs me down.

Generally in the Spring I am full of Hope. The garden is full of promise, there are goats kidding, trees budding, bees buzzing, birds nesting and I can't help but feel hopeful, but this year...well, this year has been different.

The last weeks of February turned to Spring, warm days and warm nights too and oddly enough I suspect that this early Spring is what started all of this downward sliding that I've been doing. The weirdly warm weather caused problems in the greenhouse and I lost most of my seedlings and I'm feeling now like this may have been the beginning of my funk...we have committed to growing our own food because we simply don't trust anyone to meet our very high standards for organic/chemical free. 

 I know, I know. This is the part where I would tell you, "You should know your farmer," and you should, but here's the thing. I am my own farmer and my standards are HIGH. I only know one person who adheres to standards as high as my own and she, like me, just farms for herself and her family. I'm also not always comfortable asking the hard questions (because really, I already know the answers). 

So, we decided that if my seedlings don't make it, then I just won't grow those plants. I say I'm okay with that, but really I can hardly imagine my summer without a garden. Some part of me is like, "Whew, a summer off!" but I know that in reality I will feel like something is missing. Growing my own food is so important to me. Of course, it doesn't help that this is registering as a Failure and there is no fixing it at this late date.

The warm weather has also brought out the neighbors with their mowers and pump sprayers full of glysophate a little early this year. For a couple of weeks now I've listened to the drone of mowers as people mowed every square inch of their property, acres and acres mowed flat. After mowing they head out with the sprayers to nuke the fence lines and kill the "weeds." During this same time, I have been crawling around our property looking for wildflower seedlings, watching the bees sip nectar and collect pollen, looking for "weeds" that goats like to eat and daydreaming about how much more growing I can do and how much LESS mowing. 

I try very hard to live by the motto "live and let live," so I keep my mouth shut as long as the neighbors stay off our property with their poisons (trespassing with their glysophate has been an issue in the past). What generally happens when I witness them spraying is A. paranoia that they are spraying my fence lines (see above), and B. anger that everyone around me is using chemicals. This year has been different. Oh, I got out the binoculars to make sure everyone was staying on their side of the road and yep, I was angry, but then I just got sad. The crippling melancholy of Winter descended on me and I dropped into a major funk that I'm having trouble shaking. I don't want to leave the farm; I feel like I'm surrounded by the enemy. I haven't been eating. I feel like I could begin sobbing every time I think of all those chemicals, all that we are expected to eat, and breath, and spread on our skin without ever questioning it and I can't even escape it at my home because it is all around me. 

I walk each day past the bee hives and encourage our girls to stay close. I caution them that they can't trust the neighbors with their sprayers and GMO corn. I can envision toxic clouds of overspray coming over my fences, settling on my goats' backs, coating the grass, the leaves, the food they eat. My heart is breaking and there seems like nothing I say or do makes a difference. I'm an educator and some part of me believes that if I talk long enough and loud enough someone will hear, but a bigger part of me believes that people are greedy and lazy and selfish and they want their weed-free, green lawns and sweet corn at whatever the cost. The cost for me is too steep.

I think part of my funk is due to the fact that I just can't fit in to this mentality. I have no tribe. I want to live and let live, but yet, I can't help but feel like I need to speak up. When I don't speak up (because I'm living and letting live) I feel guilty. There are all these conflicting emotions and I feel so very strongly about this that I am making myself crazy (literally) because I don't feel like there is any hope at all that people will be convinced to forego chemicals because they want the green lawn, less work, or that fucking GMO sweet corn.

Today, I saw the pump sprayer come back out across the road and something snapped in me....No, no, no y'all, I did not strap on my holster...I went up there and I roped off a buffer zone to keep my girls out of harms way and then I decided that every time some moron brought out the chemicals I would do something pro-active and positive. After I moved the electric fence, I then went all around the property and hung six birdhouses made from gourds I grew on this land, with seeds I've saved over years and years. Seeds that came with me, and will out last me too. I walked the woods slowly and carefully; I let the earth cradle me and give me gifts. I talked to trees; I stood still; I listened. I heard.

The pond was full of ducks who flew, quacking when I crested the hill. In the woods behind me a woodpecker tapped. High above the hawks called, mating. When I reached to pick up a piece of trash, leftovers from previous owners, I found a cardinal feather, red against the brown leaves. Wild plums are blooming and trees are budding and I found peace and calm out there. This farm is truly an oasis from the chaos and stupidity.

The next time I hear mowers droning all day and I see the sprayers out, I'll find another way to lift myself up. This land is the only affirmation I need that my way, our way is THE way. I suspect I'll keep my mouth shut, it is after all their land (but I share the water and air and I can't say that I'll ever stop feeling uneasy). Maybe this post can serve as a call to action too...or a permission stop mowing, stop spraying, leave things be...

PS. Y'all, I just want to say that if you are reading this blog I appreciate it. Despite the fact that I teach writing and harp on the whole Writing Process, blah, blah, blah...everything I write here is a rough draft, straight from my heart with little to no editing or revising.