I am sitting in my kitchen on a Sunday morning, having luxuriously slept in to the seventh hour. There are herbs neatly (well, relatively neatly) placed on shelves and in the brand new stillroom that we created from the worn out walk-in closet that used to house unused tennis rackets and jumbled canning materials. On the kitchen table are the remnants of wreath-making: sprigs of rosemary and thyme, dried gomphrena, statice, and strawflower stems, bits of wire and pliers. My last market of the year is in a few hours and I won’t be selling anything freshly harvested, only the fat of summer and fall’s harvests. There will be the green salve created with lush comfrey leaves of September mornings and the beautiful calendula of hot afternoons. Spilanthes tincture from when that magic eyeball plant was bounding over the edges of the bed, finding more soil to root in and land to spread eagle in. The wreaths are made of grapevines trimmed during my friend Coco’s prunings of fall, the flowers from her daughter Mal’s dewy harvests at the flower field at First Root Farm.
I’m going to a concert tonight, a pleasure rarely afforded during the months of tendriling, weeding, and harvesting. I’ll be seeing Joanna Newsom, who may sing a song of “the nullifying, defeating, negating, repeating. Joy of life,” and to which I raise a glass of nettle beer and holler, yes! To life, but also to farming! To all of it trapped in jars and bottles and bags for winter. To the nullifying, defeating, negating, repeating JOY of it.
All the pain, all the hours spent doing one movement over and over. All the sun and all the sweat, the rain and the water, the gas station food, the butterflies. To the summer sounds of cars driving by, the leaves everywhere, the trees surrounding me in their shimmers of transition, their eventual undressing, their standing as sentries with such blessed bones and bark. To the moon lighting up a scene that made me guffaw when it was finally too late to work and I realized again that this place, ever so briefly, was mine to harvest and sow. To the crabgrass everywhere and the hands that helped me pull it, to the hands that helped me plant the white cloves of garlic, the huge bulbs of daffodils, the hands that shared picnics and sumac lemonade on long afternoons.
To the stripping of chamomile flowers from stems on CSA mornings, to running around with an apron and a clipboard, to drinking coffee for the first time in months. To Paula Poundstone for making me laugh as I put the bags together, to Car Talk for cracking me up on the drive to Somerville, to Ira Glass for making me misty eyed in Jamaica Plain. To the bees singing around tulsi inflorescences while I weeded and harvested in heaven. To the way that the swamp milkweed burst from its buds and silently waved its beauty of pinks and whites on the 4th of July.
To sleeping too little and driving too much. To singing really loud in the car and alone in the field. To never having clean knees and crabgrass seeds getting in my hair. To wrapping California poppies in butcher paper and taking one thousand pictures of honeybees. To podcasts. To wildcrafting plantain and goldenrod, to climbing ladders to get to elderflowers. To wearing big boots and short shorts. To not showering. To dressing up and scrubbing almost all the dirt off. To meeting beautiful people. To slinging fertilizer in a good straw hat. To growing and dying and growing back. To resting all winter. To all of the defeating, the repeating, the outrageous Joy of it.
To all of it, I give thanks. To all of it, you’re forever in my heart and the dirt of my knees. I’ll drink you in winter; I’ll see you in spring.