If you have not yet read Farm City, by Novella Carpenter…give yourself a Big treat and get your fanny out to a bookstore near you and buy it! This woman is awesome, and dare I say, the kind of person that I would call a local hero to us all. Carpenter and her boyfriend moved from (if I remember correctly) Seattle, to a run-down section of Oakland, CA, and quickly turned an abandoned dirt lot into a verdant, abundant, living, thriving, urban farm. She began planting edibles, with a focus on eventually helping to feed the people in her neighborhood…where there is nary a grocery store that sells fresh produce. And then came the animals: bees, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, 2 very large pigs, and (guessing by the back cover of the book) somewhere down the line, goats. Awesome, right!
This book is an education in the down and dirty, pulsating, thriving, loving world of farm life (albeit, in a run-down neighborhood filled with a cast of crazy characters) from raising livestock, to dumpster diving to feed all these animals, to slaughter that is humane, though messy, to the divine act of eating the animal that you raised with love. And it’s all told with Novella’s dead-pan humor, “tell it like it is” sense of humor that keeps you wanting more.
Farm City is one of my favorite books of the year…and I think it will remain a favorite for years to come.
Novella teaches classes at her farm that allow others the skills to begin their own adventures, and she blogs about it all @ ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com. And definitely check out her new book also, Gone Feral….
At the beginning of summer (which for me means, the last day of the school year!) I made a conscious decision to allow myself an undivided summer…meaning, a summer devoted to my family, my husband, my kids, my pooch, my garden, taking care of my neighbors chickens, and enjoying every sun-drenched day of it! Summer break was short for us this year, 2 little months (my kids returned to school Monday – August 11…sigh) and I did not want any conflicting interests getting in the way of my being fully present with them during our short time together. So, I took the entire 2 months off from writing – writing my blog, writing my novel, promoting my published novel, finishing my short story collection, re-writing my stage-play, song-writing…I mean ALL writing!…(other than my Gratitude Journal…which is filled with entries about them!) And it was the best decision I could have made:)
Time is the leveler of equal opportunity, isn’t it. We all have the same number of hours every single day, not a moment more, not a moment less. And as my children grow, they become more evolved and complex, with their own defined interests, tastes, joys…you understand, and these precious days of spending nearly all my waking hours (and sometimes sleeping hours) with them, becomes less common, as they explore the world and their interests with friends, each other, or on their own. As they should. And so to hold these past two months in my mind, my heart, my spirit, of time spent with them – is a treasure beyond all compare. The memories of these past two months will hold me for a lifetime, and I do hope, the memories will carry my children as well.
Together, our family went camping several times, we hung out, we played, we swam, we boogie-boarded in the ocean waves, we hiked, we took our dog Rodeo on long walks along the Arroyo, our daughter learned to ride her bike, we saw movies under the stars, we listened to music in the parks and had picnics, we read, we watched the kids create amazing homes, nature parks, amusement parks, and other worlds in Minecraft…they helped me can our homegrown tomatoes…we spent TIME with one another, and there is simply no greater gift.
My son just recently turned 10, and to celebrate this new double digit status, I took him backpack camping on one of the Channel Islands – Santa Cruz, the largest island, and the only island with potable water – for 3 nights and 4 days. Just he and I, and a double kayak. It was tremendous. It was extraordinary. It was absolute kick-ass! And the best way possible to welcome and usher in a new decade. My son and I hiked every day, along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, through the yellow rolling hills, under the ever present sun and ever blowing winds…we kayaked every day, morning and late afternoon, and explored unbelievable sea caves, aqua blue waters so brilliant and crystal clear we couldn’t believe we were still in California, made our way through 5-7 foot high, white capped ocean swells to explore Neptune’s Trident!, we swam, we read Island of the Blue Dolphins (which is based on a true story of a woman that was abandoned and lived alone for 18 years on one of the smaller Channel Islands), we played cribbage, we watched the adorable and thieving small island foxes steal half our booty of food, we explored, we breathed in the eucalyptus scent that filled the air from the mighty trees all around the island, we rested on the fallen tree in the dry creek bed of our campsite soaking in the sun, we enjoyed every moment, and on the 4th afternoon when we were set to sail back to the mainland, we were more than sad to leave.
In 10 short years, our kids will be in college, graduating high school, traveling the world, deciding how they want to explore their lives, challenge themselves, create the life they dream of…and the days of sharing time with them will, very likely, occur less and less. My kids will be experiencing young adulthood, ready to pounce on their independence and freedom and dreams and my husband and I will miss their presence more than we can possibly imagine. And so, I fill and store away all these precious hours, experiences, and memories that we are sharing now, and store them in my own private memory bank where I will be able to draw upon them each and every moment that I find myself missing their brilliance, their warmth, their smiles, their humor, their tenderness, their all. Them.
I guess I write this to encourage each of you, to encourage all of US, to grab warmly the now of our experiences and create the time, the room, the allowance, to really dig into what is in front of us – the here and the now. To saturate ourselves with the gift of this moment, this day, and to hold it dearly inside…a shimmer of light, to illuminate our hearts and minds, even years and years down the line.
Here is to you, for being present, for recognizing what is most important for you and giving yourself to it freely and completely, and allowing the rest to reside where it needs to – in the background. The must do’s will still be there, waiting…even the want to do’s :) It is the choice of living the Intentional Life – the life where you Choose the what, the how, the when, the now, with full embrace.