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Friday, April 6, 2012

Home the Land Built: Week 3

“Home is where bright morning breaks upon far valley wall.  Can you hear sweet running waters call?”  These words, the music Amelan hears as the folk of Jordan bear his ailing grandmother into the healing waters of the river, have echoed in the backwaters of my mind since first they floated into my novel seven years ago.   Now, especially after this past weekend, with my river boat rocked so, I feel the need to tie up and lie down in the warm and familiar waters of home.  Wherever that is.  Saturday morning, I finished my novel.  Seven years and nine months ago,  I paddled out into what I then thought was just a safe little stream.  Silly me!  Good thing I didn’t know about all the twisting, turning, rock-crashing whitewater.  Somehow, I managed to steer my way, nearly drowning in the last storm of scene, and set my feet again onto the dry shore, the last lines of the book.   Though much remains to do---edit, publish, market--- it’s still an unbelievable milestone.  Unbelievable indeed.  Being done feels less real than the soothing voices of Jordan.   I know where to go next.  I just don’t recognize where I am.  Where are the familiar voices of home?  Though I could feel myself slipping back under, I managed to keep my head above water.  Barely.   Thank goodness for 150 year old barnwood.   What a life raft!  The very afternoon of my struggle, our new dining table arrived.  Or should I say, our old dining table. 
Duane, from Winona’s Pieces of the Past, delivered it himself.  He’d not only made our harvest table---fastened with square nails---but he’d salvaged the 150 year old Fountain City barn, board by bug-chewed board.   Much of this we learned as he joined as for our first meal at the table:  Linda’s moist and dark ginger bread.  Since Duane left, I can’t tell you how time my fingertips have spent tracing the dents, scratches and inch-long former homes of bugs.  And I listen; like Duane, the table, the wood itself, has a tale to tell.  To sing even.  “Home is where bright morning breaks upon this table top.” 
I do love breakfast!  Care to join us?

5:05  Arise
5:05:01 Eat 1st breakfast (roasted sunflower seeds, craisins, maple syrup, milk, PB)
6:15  Complete blog
6:16  Beg Linda to edit blog (as always)
6:17  Morning read:  Becoming Animal, David Abrams (I’m trying, I’m trying)
8:45  Wave sad good-bye to Linda as she heads to MPLS
8:46  Console myself with 2nd breakfast (honey tangerine)
8:55  2nd Morning read:  The Hobbit (what a treat, I’ve haven’t read a novel since beginning my own novel 8 years ago because I always got sucked into their writing style)
9:45  Indulged my inner hobbit with 3rd breakfast, (honeycrisp apple)
10:05  Always trying to use existing resources, determined I can roof Humanure Hacienda with pallets
10:45  Mixed up batch of sawdust (just add water) and refilled sawdust toilet bin
11:14  Vacuumed up sawdust mess in bathroom
11:47  Lunch (fried egg sandwich, two eggs layered between two slices toast dashed with Tobasco)
12:06  Readied guest bedroom for visit overnight visitor:  nephew Daniel.  Can’t wait!!!
12:39  2nd Lunch (popcorn)
1:08   Called HVAC Arnie.  Filled my inner geek with engaging conversation to optimize heat transfer from solar hot water storage tank to in-floor loops
1:45  Dug wild parsnips from lawn with Parsnip Predator.  Soaked in water.   Ready to eat.
2:43   Hauled 12 wheelbarrows of dirt from our mini-mud mountain to fill sink hole between east porch and septic tank
3:48  Built fence around transplant garden.  Hoping to have better luck keeping deer and rabbits out of our 4140 perennials than we had keeping mice out of our 4140 furniture.
5:26  Supper.  Burrito:  beans with cinnamon, cloves, nettles, sweet potatoes.
6:45  Walked Kirby Cat.  Hah!  As if anyone can “walk” a cat.
7:05  Tolerated conversation with financial planner. 
7:30  Finished this blog.
7:31  Wished Linda here to edit.  L
Now, reading this list, I realize that none of this begins to describe what it’s like to BE on the Land.  For that, you'll just have to come on down.

I’m afraid he beat you to it.  Nephew Daniel is first to sleep the night in the Murphy bed.  When he arises, I’ll learn how they got on.  Right now, his door is closed and that’s a good sign.  And a comforting sign;  so good to have him here.  And so good to have a guest for the night. 
The night!  We even pondered the nature of night as we sat on the moonlit yoga loft porch, perched within the glass-less cedar framed windows, Daniel’s favorite spot in the whole house.  “What is night?” I asked.  You’d think I’d know, having experienced over 20,000.  Perhaps I hadn’t really noticed before.  Or perhaps it’s just too darn big to notice.  Now, with the darkness all around us, and me just having read David Abram’s opinion on that in his Becoming Animal, we thought we’d try it on.  “You can’t say what it isn’t,” I grinned, making up rules.  “When the sun isn’t out, doesn’t count,” I said.  “Evil!” he guessed.  “Ah, poetry.  At the soul level,” I nodded.  “But are not other things evil?  Can you tell me what night is and ONLY night is?” We pictured launching at night in a moon-bound space ship.  “As we climbed, suddenly night would end.  What is it that we left behind?”  As I had done a few days earlier, he awoke.  I recognized the child-like wonder in his moon-lit eyes.  “The earth’s shadow!  Night IS the earth’s shadow.”  Seated in our perches, we let the immensity of night wrap around us and our shared understanding bind us.  Suddenly, wide-eyed, he looked at me.  “What is the moon’s shadow?” he asked, turning the game around on me.  Now, it was my turn to struggle.  I could see our own moon-shadows, cast dimly upon the porch floor.  But he wasn’t asking about my shadow, whether cast by sun or moon.  I shrugged, gave up.  His smile beamed wider than the moon.  “A solar eclipse.”  In my amazement, all I could do is nod and clumsily add,  “Maybe you and I can go see one someday.” And I meant it.  And he knew it.  Who knows if we will, but there, wrapped together in our earthly shadows, it seemed quite possible.  “We’re not just going to SEE a solar eclipse,” he said, breaking the silence.  “We’re going to sit in the shadow of the moon!”
More and more I find myself pondering my legacy.  No so much about what, if anything, anyone will actually say about me---maybe I don’t want to know---but about my positive impact, what good, if any, will linger because of me.  So the Novel:  a possible legacy of ideas and inspiration.  So the Land:  a possible legacy of healing and abundance.  So Medtronic even, though retired (or more preferably refired).  I enjoy meeting my old work team, who I had some hand in building, and seeing my legacy unfold, their successes and challenges.   Yet there is one more legacy, more basic, and perhaps more uplifting than all the rest:  my nieces and nephews and their engagement with the Land.  And today, nephew Daniel went at it as if Star Trek’s Captain Picard issued his command:  “Engage!”   I lost count of  the firsts for Daniel.  We unhooked the PTO generator from the tractor, the New Holland TC45D, otherwise known as Little Blue.  A Daniel first.  Daniel mounted the beast, turned the key, pulled out of the shed and navigated our never-flat terrain to the trailer.  A Daniel first.  He backed up the tractor, and after only three attempts at perfect alignment, I hitched the trailer.  A Daniel first. 
Then we were off to trail clearing, with Daniel and Little Blue pulling our trailer of tools:  chain saw, weed whacker, splitting maul and all the paraphernalia associated with converting trail-blocking deadfall into firewood stacked alongside the mowed path.  We cleared, snapped, sawed, split and stacked the gifts of two trees:  one boxelder we call the mother tree and one Siberian elm, both of whom we'd girdled (killed by stripping a ring of bark) years ago and are still clinging to life.  A Daniel first.  We learned the personalities of boxelder (vindictive, my jaw still hurts from the whack she gave me) and elm (stubborn as rock).  A Daniel first.  Our task finished, Linda handed us a bag which we half-filled with nettles to contribute towards our supper, carefully avoiding the painful stingers as we plucked the top tender leaves.  A Daniel first.  After dinner---blanket nestled in our yoga loft porch window perches---we let our hearts pound, fantasizing how we might approach the ten deer lolling from the east pond up the draw toward the house.  A Daniel first.  Of course, all this really is a first for me.  Like a new parent, I’m learning how to hand down what I have, what I am able, to Daniel, to my nieces and nephews.  I’m learning how to create a legacy. 

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Mike. I love the table and the picture of Linda. Karen