Sunday, October 11, 2009
Taste and See -- Days 23-25
The tastes that have been most prominent have been those of autumn -- but not the ones you might expect. I'm not talking about cool apple cider sliding down my throat or pumpkin pie or any of those tastes. No, I'm talking about musty dampness, dryish sawdust, dank diesel fuel, fresh cut wild onions and...
Well, let me explain. About mid-week, the rain started to fall. And fall. And fall. And so no farm work got done in the evenings. But the weather people kept saying that the weekend would be great -- bright and sunny and cool. And the taste of anticipation of all the fall flavors I mentioned above was with me from Wednesday through Friday. And then came Saturday -- as brilliant as the prediction.
So I started by stacking firewood in the woodshed. Laying a fire in the fireplace has to be one of the supreme joys of the cool evenings. But wood is not clean -- especially when you're transferring it from a wood stack down the farm lane to the woodshed behind the house. Every pieces is lifted, tossed, unloaded, stacked -- while bazillions of wood fragments, old leaves, dry grass, and more float through the air and into your nose and mouth. So I tasted various flavors of trees -- oak, cherry, ash. Some dry, some dampish from all the rain. I saw various mice running for their lives as I dismantled their homes in the wood stack (not on purpose -- didn't know the exact addresses). The kittehs especially enjoyed that part -- they are Catholic cats and thus have no tendencies toward the Quaker peace testimony. So Grace and Ebony tasted meeses.
After the wood was stacked, it was time for the final mowing of the lower woods. We'd planted 3,000 trees down there about 4 springs ago and many are getting very tall. Still, to keep the weeds down -- and to give us paths to walk in -- I mow the rows. That's where the taste of diesel fuel and onions came in. I fueled the John Deere and as the fumes floated up from the tractor a few made their way into my mouth (I need to learn to breath with my mouth shut, I guess). Not unpleasant -- just a soupçon of its pungency. Then it was out into the woods, where, to the hint of diesel came fresh mowed grass and wild onion flavor. Also, a taste of black eyed Susan and purple coneflower. Each borne on the the wind as the bushhog mauled them into particles of minute portions.
I love these tastes -- earthy, real, tangible. They speak of stewardship and work and creation. Things which were noble concepts to me as few as seven years ago, but which have become part and parcel of my life since Nancy and I built Ploughshares and began planting trees and prairie. It still is a wonder to me how I ended up here -- a city fellow who thought by this age he'd be living in condo downtown in the arts district.
Yet here I am. Farmer Brent -- voted least likely to plow by his high school class! No, I'm not a "real" farmer -- no crops other than God's adorn these fields. But I "a charge to keep I have..." as the old hymn says. And part of that charge is taking care of that which I've been granted. Ah, 50 acres and fool -- God certainly has a sense of humor. Him planting me here with the crops reminded me of Jesus calling a bunch of fisherman and tax-collector types to be disciples -- to be the bearers of his gospel to the whole wide world. Not a one of them an expert in the field of God-telling.
While I wonder at it all, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:27 -- "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."
Foolish and weak and easily confounded, too, I am. But I enjoy the tastes of autumn -- they remind me of God.