Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Heart Mary Oliver



Prairie Wildflowers and Grasses
Photo by Grant Steerzer

A friend over at Red Earth Farms just posted on Facebook with a question: If you were to memorize a poem, which would it be?

Someone mentioned A Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost, which I often hear running through my head.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Talk about great (insert sigh here). Robert Frost is like that - who can walk in the woods and not think "...whose woods are these I think I know..." or, when you have to drag yourself away from somewhere you'd like to stay, the line about "...but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep..." (from Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening).

But one of my favorites has to be The Journey by Mary Oliver:

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Oh. So. Delicious.

In other news, life at the ecovillage has been hot but lively. The Inn has been full for two weeks straight, which has kept us exceedingly busy. The work exchangers have been amazing - they see things that need to be done and do them, which has taken an enormous load off of my shoulders. I'm having great fun cooking with Mina, Robby is working hard on making us all (semi) famous, Danae and Jordan are taming the garden and making the place absolutely beautiful, and Katherine is taking care of the inn rooms beautifully. It makes me very happy to watch this all fall into place!

The other night we had an International potluck which began with a game of street cricket, and finished with an amazing array of food. Yum!

Baloo
Photo by Sequoia Rock

Baloo, best dog in the world, continues to get older each day. He can no longer walk all the way to the pond, which is just as well, because his hind legs are no longer strong enough to push him out of the water. It is sad but we have had 14 fantastic years, and each additional day feels like delicious gravy. He and I take slow, short walks, and hang out together a lot. He seems quite content, and still enjoys (very short) games of fetch.

It was too hot for pizza night (we couldn't bear the thought of standing in the kitchen near the oven pumping out 500 degree heat for four hours) so Kurt grilled burgers ("real" and Boca), a bunch of veggies, we steamed up a ton of sweet corn and whipped up several tons of potato salad (recipe tomorrow). It was a big hit, and a nice change from pizza. We're thinking about doing lasagne in the solar oven this Thursday.

The pond at sunset
Photo by Grant Steerzer

That's it for now. I'm kind of in a hurry to get outside - it's 8:22 p.m. and it has finally cooled down. It's fairly quiet out because half of the community has gone down to Columbia to participate in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. But the birds are singing (a nest with 3 robins about to fledge right outside my window), the kids are laughing, and there is a guitar and singing going on in the courtyard. Time to go, perhaps for a swim and then to join the singing.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reminding Myself Who I Am, or the Forest for the Trees

Hi friends!

Here in Rutledge it is currently 96 degrees ("but it feels like 103!"). We are, and you might be too, in the midst of a freakin' hot summer. To compensate, I am sitting here in front of a fan (with very few clothes on, one of the joys of working from home!) and a big icy Dr. Pepper at hand. Earlier today I met with work exchanger Robby Boyer (not to worry, we were both fully dressed) and brainstormed ways to get the Milkweed Mercantile a little more attention. Our goal - to fill more Inn rooms, bring in a little more green (as Kurt is fond of saying, we're "making tens of dollars!") and spread the good word of sustainability.

Robby, taken last summer on the Mercantile porch. Who knew he'd be back for more?

In thinking about past publicity the Mercantile has received I remembered one of the very first interviews I did. It was with Mike Sowden, who at the time was working for EcoSalon. (Your guess is as good as mine why it is under the "Sex" category - ha!) It was, as always, a blast to be my opinionated self. Rereading it was like getting a shot of adrenalin, or perhaps receiving an incredibly positive kick in the pants.

When one is smack dab in the middle of an all-consuming adventure, one often loses sight of how much has been achieved. One being me, of course.

"Pondage"

So thanks for the reminder. It's time for a swim in the pond, and then back to the Mercantile to prep for Heat Index Grillin' Evening, which is being held in place of pizza night. It's just too damn hot to hang out by a 500 degree oven for five hours!

Keep cool!