Saturday, October 15, 2011

This Is Living

I just talked to my Lizzie on the phone and she and Lon are back from their mini-tour. They drove all the way from almost-Maryland yesterday morning and arrived home around ten last night and are so thrilled to be home, but so glad that they went.

Lis assures me that they made "tens and tens of dollars."

She also told me that when they were somewhere in South Carolina yesterday eating lunch, the waitress put her hand on Lon's shoulder and said something like, "Can I get you anything else, darlin'?" and they thought, "We're home!" and Lis says she never wants to leave the Southland again- this place where her people are.

And I know that people up north and out west and everywhere, in fact, are good people and kind and loving but I know that here in the south we call each other darlin' and we aren't afraid to stop and even touch, sometimes, on the shoulder, on the back, and perhaps that only means that we have not yet become afraid of making human connections. I don't know but I know I am grateful for it.

When I was planting Maw-Maw's turnips last night, I was thinking of Lon and Lis and how much I knew they were yearning to plant their fall garden and sure enough, one of the things Lis said was that they couldn't wait to get that garden in. There's just something about getting things in the dirt when the season is right that completes some of us. We cannot rest until it is done.

That raw row on the right is where I planted my turnips. It does my heart so good just to have the seeds in the dirt. Because I do not depend on my garden for my existence, it is almost more satisfying for me to plant than it is to eat what results from the planting, although the eating is fine and shopping in the garden is even better than shopping at Publix, where as we all know, shopping is always a pleasure.

After I planted last night, I grabbed a few leaves of mustard and a spinach-like plant which I've got going and some yard-long beans and they made up part of our salad for supper. There IS something to be said for knowing that between what grows in the garden and what the hens so cheerfully lay for us, there is almost a full meal to be had at any time. Add in what's in the freezer in terms of venison and fish, and there is great richness.

And my foremothers nod their head in agreement, they beam their approval when I get those seeds in, when I pat that dirt over them which, as I have said, feels so much like bread dough, like a baby's bottom, that substantial yet firm giving-ness. I can feel the genes of those women flowing through my blood when I reach in and gather eggs, hold them up to my face to feel the just-laid warmth of them. Living food, it's all living food.
It is loving food.
And once you've gotten involved in it, that need to participate in the growing, the tending, becomes very strong. It is as if a switch is somehow flipped and I can feel, actually FEEL, those foremothers sighing in satisfaction at the knowledge that all of their eons of learning and doing are still part of the human race.

And Lon and Lis feel that too. We don't even need to discuss it. It just is.

A garden, chickens, hunting, fishing- these are all things which are considered to be luxuries these days for most of us. Back yard chickens are almost, at this point, a fashionable hobby. And yet, if we think about it, it's the going-to-the-store and buying our food wrapped and packaged and labeled and pre-prepared which is the actual luxury. We have turned things upside down and we don't even realize it! Isn't that odd?

Believe me- I am not going to give up buying food and coffee at the grocery store. That is another type of gathering but the switch has been turned in me and it has been turned for many years and so the satisfaction of gardening and chicken-tending is a completely different thing. It is, well, it is right. I may not need to do it but I HAVE to do it.
Does that make any sense at all?

Here is Elvis, watching his flock.

Here is this winter's salad, coming up.

Here is the blossom of the yard-long bean and as I have said before (and will no doubt say again) when Nature finds a design she loves, she uses it over and over again.

Here is some squash coming along.

And here is a bloom of the Parlor Maple and that is nothing but beauty, which is another thing that Nature seems to approve of.

I think we all seek balance, whether we are aware of it or not and I think that in today's world it is becoming harder and harder to find that balance. Part of that is the giving-away to others and to technology that which we are programmed as a species to do for ourselves, whether it is in the way we get the food we eat or the way we give birth or the way we die.

And I am so grateful to be here, where I am, in a place where I can touch or be touched by other humans, the dirt, the egg, the bread dough, the beauty.
I am so grateful I could have my babies the way my body was designed to do, that I could feed them with that same body, that I can take my grandson out to the garden and let him pick beans and eat them straight from the vine, that I can show him how the chickens need to be fed, how their poop helps the garden grow, how their eggs feel on his face, freshly laid, how they feel in the palm of the hand, how they taste when they are cooked.

Yes, I want an iPhone. Yes, I love my Mac. Yes, I adore my washing machine and oh yes, yes, yes, I am so grateful I do not have to haul my water from the river or the well either one.

But. I know that these things are not the end-all and be-all of my existence. I acknowledge that I am a living being on this living planet and as such, I need to be firmly aware of that which is living around me and to be a part of that too.

All right. That's what I'm thinking about this morning and now it is time for my late-breakfast.

I believe I will cook an egg.

Good morning, darlin's. Good morning.


  1. And all of our technologie is still not able to make an egg...

  2. I like what you said about us turning luxuries upside down. I have similar thoughts about disposable products and the way we are going back to "reusable" everything, and that's how everything was before... did that start in the 50's? All this disposable crap.

  3. I know you don't remember the 50's :) it just seems like we started that kind of thing in that time, after WWII. That and tract homes.

  4. Sigh. So beautiful. And, oh so true. You are poetry in action.

  5. You live life as one should. You know the right thing and so have to do it.
    Good morning!

  6. I love this post, this peek into a life quite different than mine but whose intentions are so similar. While I love all the beauty that surrounds me in southern California, while I thrive on the temperate weather and adore the technicolor blooms and lushness, I revel, too, in the urban-ness -- in the proximity to people, people everywhere. And while I fancy a simpler life, I realize that my sense of "home" is urban -- being in the midst of that sort of life. That's one of the reasons that I come here daily (other than my pure love for your sensibility) -- to visit a land so different than mine -- and so beautiful.

  7. I too love the South. There is something about people born here that I find familiar and warm. I don't find it in the transplants who come here.

  8. Sigh from me too. I love this post. You are a wise, wise woman. I can't even describe my envy over the concept of fall gardening, as I listen to the wind howl and worry about frost damage. Sigh again.
    Thanks for sharing so much lovely with us today. Warm egg against Owen's cheek, oh my heart.....

  9. What a splendid morning greeting, Ms Moon. And all the while I notice the way you spell your Lizzie's name with an 's', like I do. I've noticed this before now.

    I, too, am a 'Lis' to those who know me well and every time you mention our Lis, I give a shudder because it's an unusual spelling here.

    And I think then about all the cultural differences that rule our lives and how important are those samenesses in places close to home where we can feel safe and cosy but equally how important are the differences that help to mark us out as distinct from and also similar to one another.

    Your blog reminds me of these things often and I relish the freedom to share your journey however different it might be from mine. The commonalities are enough to draw us closer.

    Thanks again for the morning greeting that reached me now halfway through a Sunday when I imagine you are still asleep after Saturday.

  10. Photocat- Nor ever will.

    Lisa- I am so glad.

    Stephanie- I DO remember the fifties. Vaguely. And only small bits. I think that when plastic because universal, disposable became the rule. Can you imagine a society without plastic? I think I would like to, maybe.

    lulumarie- You need you some chickens, girl. You would be the BEST chicken mama.

    Rubye Jack- Well, I try. I fail as much as I succeed but I do try, as we all do.

    Elizabeth- I think the balance point is different for all of us. I am obviously of peasant descent. But I do understand that urban-draw. When I am in such a situation, I enjoy it. Thank-you for helping me balance MY life with YOUR world.

    Syd- It's a true thing, isn't it?

    Mel- We are very lucky here in our planting seasons. We have at least three. And yes- Owen and the eggs. It thrills me too when we gather them together.

    Elisabeth- Yes, Lis is Lis with an ess, but when it is Lizzie, it is with zees. I do not know why except that if it were esses, it would not be the same name.
    Here we are, same world, different hemispheres but our dreams are the same, our experiences so often universal and the same moon shines over us all.

  11. What gorgeous photos and gorgeous words to share your bounty. Thank god that home-raised eggs and washing machines are not mutually exclusive.

  12. Your garden is beautiful, beautiful. I love eating things grown in one's own garden.

  13. You are a wise woman, Mary Moon, and I love you truly. Truly I do.


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