A matter of perspective
This is the time of year that a would-be homesteader-cum-ruggedly-independent-DIYer/gentlewoman-farmer-with-a-bad-knee might begin to feel discouragement. Even despair.
Might even begin to hear voices.
It’s perilously easy to feel in over ones’ head in the fall, when you have a small farm: for example, the Summer’s Big Effort, the garden, is producing more food than one person (even with a couple of ornery helpers) can take care of. The tomatoes occasionally fall to the ground, and as you walk past them (you have an appointment in the city in an hour: you are sprinting–as well as you can sprint, with that dumb hurt knee–out to the garden to turn off the sprinkler, and have no time today to pick) you hear their voices, strangely: Tomato-waster. Slacker. Ne’er-do-well.
You avoid looking at the rest of your garden. You study your shoes as you pass it by. It was such a glory in the spring, so tidy and fruitful and beautiful. Now . . . there’s so much in there that you could be putting to good use, but do you have the time? Only if you give up sleep. Or eating. Or writing. Or “Leverage” at 9:00. That’s not gonna happen. The weeds are screaming at you, the weeds that you were so good to clean out of the beds until the last few weeks–the weeds have shrill, irritating voices–and they laugh quite a bit, too–and it’s not a nice laugh, either–Hehehehee! We’ve won! Heheeee! You tried, pitifully, but we have assimilated your basil and your celery and your lovely herbs from Gene and all the rest because you are an Incompetent! Slouch! Malingerer! There’s a rotten watermelon in here, Amy!! And . . . you look really crummy in those shorts!
(Those weeds can get mean.)
Then. You sigh as you limp past that big pile of fire wood–still uncut and unsplit–that you prayed for, mind–and it talks to you, too: It’s getting late in the year for working on us logs. You’re gonna be cold this winter, Sister (my woodpile is a little too familiar in its manner) if you don’t get to work! Loafer. Shirker. Scalawag.
“Scalawag?” Where’d that come from? Is my woodpile made up of sailor logs? That sounds like a sailor term to me. Avast, ya Scalawag!
It has been raining, too–uncharacteristically, I might add, for Nebraska in the late summer–and so the grass is still growing. The grass is still green, in September! Such a blessing and yet unheard of! It is lovely and lush, and badly wants cutting. And there is so much of it, besides. The grass, too, speaks rather uncharitably to you: Why can’t you do a better job of taking care of your things? A shaggy, unkempt yard is a sign that you don’t care about your place . . . what about time management, for Pete’s sake? Can’t you manage your time better, you . . . you . . . Lazybones! Ingrate!
You stoop down to pull a handful of dandelion leaves for your canary’s breakfast, as you do every day. You feel very tired, though it is early morning. The thought flits through your mind that when your mother picks dandelions for her canaries, she has to cross the street to the neighbor’s yard to find dandelions! 🙁 Not you. The dandelions speak, in tiny voices, it’s true, but you can hear them: Look, Amy, your yard has more weeds than anybody else’s yard in the whole entire world! Soon it will be your yard that the entire world comes to, to pick dandelion leaves for their canaries. There–are–so–many! Slouch!
You have too much to do, and everything on your place is screaming at you. What do you do?
I’ll tell you what I do: I count my blessings. Literally, I start saying them, one by one, out loud. Louder, you know, than the voices.
“Bryan.” The voices pause.
“Matthew. Andrew. Bethie. Timothy. Saia.” They are momentarily stunned. Silent.
I remind myself that God gave me everything that I have, and though I am feeling overwhelmed, it is sure to be a temporary situation. “Rachel. Sonia. Anya. Emmett. Amalia. Little Mack.” I take a deep breath. I smile. Something besides anxiety washes over me now. It’s . . . joy! Joy is back. The voices of despair don’t have a chance now.
We’ll catch up on the mowing when it stops raining, after all. And think about how much mulch that will result in. To smother the weeds. 🙂 “Mom and Dad. Mollie. Anne. Matt. Mark. My siblings’ families. Good coffee, served with cinnamon and ice cream, and a daughter who loves to make it for me. ;)”
The weeds don’t really matter now, since it’s going to freeze in a couple of weeks, anyway. “The log splitter. The shed, where we can keep the wood dry. Our country, where we can pursue our dreams and live in peace and freedom. Apples. Peaches. Sunflowers. Chickens. My Apple laptop.” I feel better. God has given me so much, because He loves me. He delights in me, of all people. How cool is that?
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zeph. 3:17
“Serving a God who rejoices over ME with singing. My new dishwasher which actually washes the dishes for me while I’m outside. Watermelon. Our place. Our church family. My garden. My blogging friends. My blog! My Gentle Readers, who actually seem to like me, what the heck?
As I walk across the yard, smiling and muttering to myself, little Mack catches sight of me. He has been looking all over for me, I guess. He has a box of matches, a couple of eggs that he collected from the chicken coop, and a cast iron skillet. “THERE you are!” he yells across the yard at me. “Please, Mom,” he pants as he runs toward me. “Please, can we make a little fire and cook our supper outside?”
Okay. My heart melts. How can I feel blue about any complaints, with this blessing of all blessings asking such a sweet thing of me?
Of course I say yes. It’s just Mack and me tonight, and I gather up a few extra things that we’ll need, while he makes the fire. He is so happy that I’m letting him do such a big-boy thing. All by himself. I go to my weedy garden and pick a tomato to add to our supper, and some lambsquarters. How handy that they grow everywhere, the lambsquarters. And I’m so lucky to have dandelion greens–right here next to me!–for an impromptu salad.
Little Mack has a pretty nice little fire ready for cooking by the time I get back. It takes so little to thrill my little boy. A cat. An ornery dog. A scrambled egg supper, cooked outside over a campfire. His own hatchet to cut the wood, and a little pocketknife to whittle with.
Time with me.
We eat our little dinner, laughing together as we watch the amusing behavior of our kitten, Sammy. Then I glance at my watch (it’s in my pocket, because the strap broke, which I kind of prefer, as it’s out of sight most of the time) and realize that it’s time to run to town for Mack’s Taekwondo class. Mack runs to the house, to find his uniform.
I don’t have to recite blessings any longer. My cup is full, and I’m okay with that. 🙂
By the way! I’m sharing this post with the great folks over at The Prairie Homestead Barn Hop. C’mon on over!
More from my site
- The Salsa Recipe that ruined everything.
- “Better-than-Campbell’s” Homemade Tomato Soup
First, what an adorable boy! I love that you cooked dinner outside!
Also, I SO hear you! The cowboy and I take turns reminding one another that much of our stress this time of year is from abundant *blessing*!
What a beautiful post about finding blessings in stressful times. I’m a little under the weather and complain-y but this post reminded me that overall, I have pretty good health to thank God for (among so many other bountiful blessings). Thanks for the timely reminder, Amy.
Amy – I totally think of you every time I boot up my computer at 4:30 am, but in my “AMY” folder I have at least a dozen unread sick chicken posts. Yeh, it is that time of year! Harvest produce, clean produce, cull produce, package produce, deliver produce to Lincoln or Omaha, return to El Ranchito and start all over again. Day after day after day. We haven’t had as much rain as you, but enough that my grass is 18″ high, weeds 3 feet tall, and rotting tomatoes and peppers in the field. My lemongrass is five feet tall, about two feet taller than any other year of the 20 some years I’ve been growing it. If you want a big clump, just yell. It will survive in a corner of your high tunnel.
But you may have to bring a backhoe to dig it. Tonite, the Little Woman and I will reduce a hundred pounds of cracked and oozing heirloom tomatoes to about two gallons of sauce. And there are the 10 gallons of wild plums that will rot if I don’t get them processed, as well as the two bushels of apples and one bushel of pears. I did get two dozen jars of raspberry preserves canned before 7:00 this morning. Every time I pick the heirloom tomatoes, I think of you and your heirlooms. 90% of heirloom tomatoes I’ve picked in the last month have been unsaleable, and what I don’t have time (or energy) to process gets fed to the pigs. With sixty plants, those pigs are getting a lot of half-rotten tomatoes!
HOWEVER – my herbs are lush and lovely! When I need a break, that is where I go with a cup of coffee, plop my butt on the ground and weed, prune or just muse for 15-20 minutes. I am up to a hundred rosemarys in 2 gal pots, 60 lemon thymes, etc. Can you believe that I am aready preparing them for their return to the greenhouses? Yep – we can get our first frost in a month. The we’ll have something else to complain about.
LOVED THIS! How easy and quickly I get to grumbling about the things I have to do, when in actuality I GET to do those things because of the many blessings God has given. i.e….clean the the house, Go to the grocery store, do laundry….all of those things that seem like chores are truly just managing my blessings. Thank you for helping me gain a new perspective!!
I remind myself of this one sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed… don’t ask for a lighter load, ask for a stronger back.
Truly is it said! A gentlewoman farmer’s work is never done, just like a mother’s work is never done.
I hope you shut those voice up for good. Don’t let them get away with all that verbal abuse.
Sitting here in India, where spaces are at a premium, I am filled with delight just with reading your post about all the merry chaos in your garden. (My house is like that). I like the fact that you choose to shut those voices and concentrate on your blessings instead. Besides, every garden needs to be left to itself once in a while. Let God do His thing, you know.
God bless you and yours.
Thanks Cynthia, so much, for your sweet comments. I’ve had lots of happy discoveries when I just leave things alone for a time, although it completely goes against my “control freak” gardening nature. 😉
Great prayer, Amy.
It’s the one that works and counts.
I can’t believe you’re mentioning winter already. Please don’t let it come early (and hard) again this year!
Amy! You, Amalia and Mack really got me confused … saw Mack’s photo in your post … was happy to figure out the family connection. Does Mack know that he is a celeb and has a fan on the other side of the world?
Indeed, you are blessed – not simply, because of what you have, but because your heart is filled with gratitude and appreciation. Enjoy your beautiful family, life and Nelly …
Looking forward to learning more about life in Nebraska.
You have a beautiful family Amy. The photos are beautiful and I can see why you count your blessings. As I read this I think about lifestyle and choice. What appears to be connective for you would be overwhelming and too much for me.
It is interesting the choices we make in life and how we create the lifestyle that fits us best. I live in a townhouse type dwelling one mile from the library and Nordstroms. I am also two minutes to the beautiful Spokane River and five minutes to the wilderness. Last week I had a deer resting in my small yard. It seems so easy in comparison.
When I go to the Spokane Fair today and buy from local farmers, I will have you in my mind and be appreciative of all the work it takes to feed the world! Blessings!
THANK YOU! I needed to hear this today! I am miles behind but so blessed!
I loved this post! I know that the plants and the animals converse with us. My chickens talk to me all the time and I have learned Chickenese. Also, I have heard the plants talk. The best one is that I hear God talking to me through the plants and chicks. That is the ultimate. I love the time when things get busy, but overwhelmed when it gets insane. Right now your garden and mine are insane! I hear you, sister!!
Little Mack is the best! I wish I had a kid just like him. Alas, my kids are long grown up and gone. Enjoy him, especially, even if you don’t have time for the garden and the grass.
Not much I can say this time. Life does have many blessing that are well hidden in what we at first see as problems. However, Hearing all those plants talk to you, that kind of puts you in a special place. Do you know the song “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am his own”? I enjoy my walks with Him!!
I love that song, Chef.
Great post Sis. Thought provoking. Tears of gratitude.
Thanks Dad. 🙂
I love to see families working together especially with DIY thing, and this is a great example of it, love this post!
Tomorrow, when I am in my garden trying to drown out the voices of the weeds and get around the very pushy squash that is vying with the sweet potato vines to take over the entire space, I will think of this post – and stop, and count my blessings. Thank you!
You bet, Marguerite. It won’t be long before the frost kills all the weeds anyway . . . oiy . .