Three tales of before and after.
1. the furry and the nekked
Wiley is a mix of golden retriever and chow chow. That’s why he’s especially fluffy, has a ghetto booty and a tail that is curled to one side. Remember when he looked like this?
Well now, he’s nekked. B & M have him shaved every summer when it gets real hot and he starts collecting burrs. Man was so matted I could hardly pet him anymore. But I had no idea that when Barry said shaved, he meant nothing left but peach fuzz. Poor Wiley seemed so defeated when Barry brought him home from the groomers, but I think now he’s just happy to be more comfortable during the day. I have to say I think I like Nekked Wiley better than Fluffy Wiley. He’s just so soft and smells, at least for the time being, like something that is not a dirty sock.
2. the war on weeds
Remember, way back in June, when I was all happy about my hard work in the perennial beds? Well in hindsight that was cute of me, considering that the work we did in there was about as effective at combatting weeds as Dubya Bush was at beating terrorism. Also remember when I used to do a really bad job of editing my instagrams? *cringe*
But I digress. After we did all that work nobody so much as looked in the direction of the perennial beds for several weeks, lured into the false sense of security that impeccably weeded berry patches accomplished by hours of back-breaking labor are known to imbue. Cleaning up the beds thus became a high priority project, when, at the end of July, we realized the berries were once again in the throes of death-by-morning-glory.
We learned our lesson. This time we mowed, put cardboard down around the plants (which is nearly impossible to do with strawberries, what with runners putting out new roots every which way), mulched on top of the cardboard, and made permanent walkways between rows with black landscaping fabric. It was fucking exhausting but I’m just so proud of it and glad that the benefits of the hard work will persist, just as the perennials will.
3. the garden of eatin’
Similar story with the raised beds, except that, unlike in the field, working in the garden provides immediate gratification. It’s a microcosm for the farm, but being of lesser dimensions it’s much easier to beautify and manage. In only two days we weeded that shit, installed fabric and applied woodchips.
Barry literally dumped heaps of woodchips over the sides of the fence and I raked them out. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with aching forearms and the word on the street is tendinitis.
Today I started planting B & M’s fall garden. I planted cilantro, spinach, chinese cabbage, lettuce, beets and dill. I used string to make straight rows, sealed the topsoil with granular fertilizer and watered everything in. In a few weeks time the garden will be a glorious salad.
It was never an option for me to think about my contribution to the farm as something fickle and fleeting. I had to pretend my roll was indefinite to put my best foot forward, make decisions with an eye to the future, and put my whole heart into it. I think it worked too well – I ended up convincing some little part of my brain that I’ll be here forever. I’ve even been using possessive pronouns like my, our. And collective pronouns like we, us. It’s going to be strange to make the switch in mindset. It also saddens me, nags at the part of me that needs closure, needs everything to come full circle. I planted squash seeds in paper pots I made myself, watched them germinate slowly in the greenhouse, and then carefully patted them into the soil; watered them, mulched them, weeded them. Last week they put out their first beautiful squash. But today I transplanted cabbage seedlings that won’t be ready to taste until I’m long gone. That hangs full and tugs on my heart like a mesh bag of onions suspended from the ceiling of a dry and still gravel-floored greenhouse.
Things I couldn’t have predicted before, things I learned only after. I have so much gratitude for every truth knowingly or unknowingly sought, and every single one found.