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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home the Land Built: Week 15

Wednesday was, as the saying goes, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.    “Oh…L Too many adventures at once,” came the reply from my dear friend Bob after I’d texted “Rain harvest ceased.  Masonry heater chimney leaked. Garage door opener broke.  Even the sturdy euonymus took ill”.    He’d sent as much digital comfort as he could, still I all could do is gaze out from the yoga loft porch and listen longingly for the sound of the Prius coming down the driveway.  Linda always works two days a week in Minneapolis, but now I really needed to see her again.   Sometimes Home the Land Built---or better put all the change we’ve brought upon ourselves---feels so heavy and close, like a stifling June afternoon.   
Yet Bob promised that tomorrow would be a better day.  And it was.  Much, much better!  Yes Linda and I began moving forward on the “adventures”, but one thing in particular really lifted my cloud of anxiety:  raspberries. 
Whether you believe it or not, it was wild raspberries that saved me.   By the time I could no longer see the round bottom of my plastic container, I wore a new attitude.  A raspberry attitude.  Hot didn’t matter.  Gnats didn’t matter.  Poked, prodded and pricked didn’t matter.  I was 100% engaged.  And that’s all that mattered. 
And what really, really engaged me was the thrill of learning.  Oh to be so humbled, so blissfully ignorant.  I knew nothing about picking raspberries.  Not at the start.  But each alcove in the hedgerow, each arching cane, each off-balance reach taught me something, the best kind of something, the kind of something that deep inside I already knew.  I just needed my teacher, wild raspberry, to coax it out of me.  And now, like any good student, I summarize my learnings.
How to gather the most, the plumpest, the juiciest of life’s desires, whoops I mean raspberries.
Get into the mess.  It’s a jungle, isn’t it?  Well no, I found after I brushed past the grasping thorns, crunched over broken brush, ducked under fallen limb right into the pulsing thick of it:  the intoxicating smell of elderberry flowers, the drone of pollinators, air so thick I felt underwater.  Then I felt it.  No fear.  I’m part of this.   Suddenly I could go anywhere.  Try anything.  It had only been a jungle because my little mind (who ‘s out to kill me sometimes) said it was. 

Change my perspective.    Singular vision yielded a single raspberry.   Frustrated, I turned back and lo!  There they are by the dozens.  I’d walked right past them.   I began forcing my eyes elsewhere.  Look near then far away.  Look at the whole then zero in.  Look right then left.  Look up then down.  Look on top then underneath.  Look ahead then behind.    How humbling to discover that everything I desired was already there.

Know the neighbors.   Nettles, yikes, move on!  But wait.   Look-ee there.  I soon discovered that raspberries arch behind nearly every patch of these head high stingers.  Arms up.  Wind my way through.  “E-ow-w-w”.   Is that catbird?  Raspberries can’t be far away.   Look, way up there on the hill, the white cloud of elderberry blooms.  Check it out!    And you grape, I know you love to ramble on top of my raspberries.  You don’t mind if I pick you up do you.  By the way, I’ll be back.  For elderberries.  For grapes.  Even for the greener than green nettles next spring.  And all to the endless song of catbird.

Become the object of my desire.  At first I could hardly find a single raspberry.  They’re hiding, I thought.  But finally, after stumbling upon a few where I least expected, I slapped my forehead.  “Of course I want to be found,” I head raspberry whispering inside my head.  “Why would I divert so much solar energy to wrap my seed in syrupy sweetness, only to have it rot on the vine and fall to the ground?  My genes are looking for transportation.  And you’re it (so I put a few right in front of your face).  But so is catbird (who’s looking down from the branch).  And fox (who looking up from the ground).”    
So now you can see why, after returning to the house with quarter after quart of raspberries, I got drunk on learning, this thrilling, participative knowledge of abundance that lives, it seems, right at the edge of the world.  And now I’d finally dared approach it.
What you may not know about me is that I’m an expert in control.  Really.  Wielding my staff of statistical wizardry, I’ve been handsomely paid to determine the best knob to turn and exactly how far to turn it, from a Seagate hard drive to a Medtronic pacemaker.  And in my golden years of corporate teaching, bearing the title of Master Black Belt if you can believe it, I passed this staff to thousands---engineers, accountants, even managers---creating a legion of corporate control experts.  And I’m proud of them, my legacy.
Yet I came to the Land because, somehow, I knew something more awaited me.  Something so much more.  I just wasn’t sure what it was.  So House the Land Built.  So too many adventures in one day.  So wild raspberries.
I’ve always imagined that one day, I’ll teach again.  I do love teaching.  What I’ve finally learned is that my only role as a teacher is to find something, anything really,  that engages and encourages students to learn on their own.  So if ever I were to offer a field course in life skills---for kids or executives---I might just send them out picking raspberries.   Perhaps they too will thrill to discover a new life-engaging attitude.  A wild raspberry attitude.  Maybe even a Landitude. 


  1. Hello, Michael and Linda: Just wanted to say hi. I've been enjoying your accounts of your homesteading adventure. I've linked Rah-dur on my blog. Thanks for mentioning my book, and all best~ Brett

    1. Hello and welcome Brett! I was thrilled when I noticed the Rah-dur link from Trout Caviar. LOVE your book. Nothing like it really. I asked Linda to bring home some extra Cedar Summit cream. I just had to whip up some of your Gooseberry and Raspberry Fool. Only Linda could attest to the amount of time I devote to pondering my next meal. If you ever get down to Whitewater, we'd love to have you over for supper!