I’m enjoying the fact that Day 2 is September 2nd…and also painfully aware that when I miss a day, we’ll all know it. But hey. This little practice is more for my benefit than yours, so perhaps I’ll be the only one to care. (Assuming you can live through the agony of missing a post from me…I know, I know.)
Today was a mixed bag of a day. It was our second Sunday and it sure felt like it. (Explanation: when I was an academic, someone once explained to me that the summer months could be best understood if labelled as weekdays: June is the Friday night of summer; July is Saturday; August is one long Sunday. Sunday always involves a little relaxation and introspection, but it’s mostly filled with housework, homework and dread.) We had this beautiful gift of a four-day weekend, and I was all giddy with a sense of possibility before I realized a) it would rain the whole time; b) we had no plans and it was Labor Day weekend; c) we don’t really have disposable income at this time; and d) we have tons of stuff to do around the house. So we decided to make it a staycation of sorts, with predictable results. We loved having two Saturdays (I lobbied briefly to call it three Saturdays and one Sunday, but let’s be real) and used them well, with a picnic by the river and lots of fun garden time. There was picking of homegrown veg (based on Alice Waters’ Simple Food refrigerator pickle recipe), singing, dancing, and a whole lot of important house and yard work. But today the rain was INTENSE, and we loafed about all morning and then spent the afternoon with friends we haven’t seen in ten years. Which was satisfying in itself. And now…and now…
Here I am, trying to imagine what this project of wading in means. Partly, it seems to mean paying attention to things so that I can develop a habit of living in the moment and recollecting it with some reasonable calibration to reality. That’s not a strength of mine. I notice the dramas: the joys and failures. I tend to discount the mundane. But in life with kids, the mundane is kind of the point. It’s the source of the joy.
All this is reminding me of this brilliant new series I’m creating (and scholarship I’m writing) for the Maine Humanities Council on the agrarian novel. It’s not much of a category in the US, you see, though it should be. It’s farm literature that illustrates a love of the land, a reverence for the ordinary, an appreciation of people and nature and the routine, miraculous systems of nature. It tends to be skeptical of gimmicks and passers-by, preferring deep roots and time-tested solutions. It pays attention, sitting quietly for a while to make room for the wise, the funny, or the beautiful. Just in case they show up. That’s the kind of approach I’m trying to take to my life these days…and it’s nice to be living it even as I let my ever-scrambling intellect go play with the abstractions. Gene Logsdon says “firsthand experience” is the difference between the agrarian writer and the writer; I’d argue, today, that firsthand experience is the difference between happy living and muddling through. Not just HAVING the experience, but showing up for it. Being present with it, sharing it with others, and remembering it as best you can. These are my work, today.
Can you fit Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons into your new course? It’s irreverent and funny and maybe dated a bit (1932) but so wonderful! Sherry