> jumping into life.


so we're leaving on a field trip tomorrow - first to chaco canyon, then to kansas, with a stop somewhere in colorado that i forget. i sort of realized all of a sudden this morning that i need to pack and have food and etc, since we'll be gone nine days and i do like eating. but its beautiful out and i want to go hiking instead.


an indulgent day: i woke at seven, which at this point is sleeping in. read and lounged in bed for a while, then made blue-corn pancakes with local honey and marmalade. more reading. more eating, this time toast and butter (which is, unaccountably, one of my most favorite things to eat). some photography. more reading. more eating, this time cookies i made a few days ago. more reading, this time outside in the sun. iced coffee. lots of silly emails, a few phone conversations. some gardening. more reading. i'll do some knitting tonight when it cools down a bit. and some more reading, and probably more eating. the end.


we work the field, pressing seeds into the damp spaces that the dripline has left. it is sometime after noon, probably - we haven't stopped for lunch yet, and nobody knows for sure, but the sun is high. each field is split into 24 plots, and we each get two or three to plant. in field five, i have a watermelon-sunflower-amaranth plot, a watermelon-tepary bean plot, and a control, for which i am grateful because it doesn't need planting. in field seven, i have a bean plot, a bean-corn plot, and a bean-squash plot. we staked our driplines wrong this morning, so the first row of plots is one line short; mine end up being two lines long. nonetheless, after a half-hour or so, one find a rhythm in planting, and the squashes are placed at every other emitter, so they go fast. soon, we are in a trance - the world wavers, heat-shimmers, and contracts to the weight of the beans in your pocket, the feel of damp earth, the dust in your eyes, the sun on your back, the sweat. my fingers learn to pick out three beans at a time, which is how many go into the ground at once. same with corn, four, and melon and squash seeds, two. twice i plant a row into the next plot's boundary and have to go back, carefully digging them up back to where they are supposed to be. i sing them into the soil: little beans go in the ground, grow up tall to feed us all, grow up tall little beans, little beans next to the corn, i hope you like it where it's warm.... if you've heard my mother singing, or heard me humming when i'm happy, you can imagine how the song goes.

someone decides the little damp spots are too hard to find, and walks to the corner of the field to turn the pipe on. we all stand up when the water rushes through: even confined to plastic tape, even on a farm in spring, the sound of water in the desert necessitates a pause. then, on top of the irrigation-line sound, there is a sound of water, truly - one of the lines has broken, and it gushes freely, ripping through the dirt. those of us nearby walk towards it, instead of towards the spigot. we put our feet in the water, our hands. it is like waking from a dream.

these days, the first thing i do when i get home is shower, because the dust is everywhere all over me. i find little piles of dirt in unexpected places: in the middle of the kitchen floor, beneath my couch, beside the toilet, next to my bed. anywhere i take of clothing, or shoes, or where i drop my hat when i come in. dust in my ears and gritty between my teeth, between my toes and tangled in my hair. the second thing i do when i get home is eat, because working eight or nine hours in the sun is hungry work. it'll be something miraculous when we can eat that work, too.


today i filled in a 2 foot deep by 10 foot long trench (which was, impossibly, just as hard as digging it had been); cleared about ten square feet of waist-high mustard weeds; adjusted the irrigation in the orchard; measured, cut, glued and laid half-inch pvc piping for the main garden; redug the trench to fit the pipe; recut the pipe to fit the trench; measured and staked our 24 test plots in field 5; secured about 2000 feet of driptape in field 7, then discovered and marked all the leaks so that we can fix them tomorrow; and, perhaps the highlight, helped to pluck, skin, and butcher a chicken that one of the dogs killed. when we cut it open, an egg fell out, and we found a whole galaxy of eggs in different stages of development - a full-size yolk covered in bright red veins, down to a cluster of little orbs the size of lentils. i will never look at eggs the same way again; i may or may not partake when kevin brings the chicken, roasted, to class tomorrow. if i do, it'll be the first chicken i've eaten in eight years - but lately i've come to understand my vegetarianism in a different way. i don't want to be a party to a death that i had no part in before it arrived on my plate, but i do think that death is part of the cycle, and i don't want to divorce myself from that cycle entirely. i've always maintained that i would eat meat again when i'd killed it myself, but this seems a close second: i know the chicken lived a good life, i was present for its death and preparation. while being chased and caught by a dog is probably not the most peaceful way to leave the world, it's not a particularly unnatural one, either. we butchered it with gratitude and respect (and curiousity, but i don't think that's a bad thing.)

at any rate, all that today was done by about 2:00. i went grocery shopping after class, and now tonight i have 30 pages to read and the second half of a 3 page paper to write. i also need to make some seitan lunchmeat for the rest of the week, and some crackers. and dinner. and be in bed by nine, because this getting up at five am stuff is really not working for me very well.


first farmers' market today, and today i turned on the fan for the first time. i think that makes it summer.


look, gary, i love your books, i have the deepest respect and admiration for your work and your ethics and your life; though i don't know you personally, i would say that you are one of my heroes. but for god's sake, please, learn to use your semicolons properly.

also: first day of class went swimmingly. i am already sunburned and inspired and sore. the farm is hip-deep in mustards, and the sticky brassica smell is still in the back of my throat. one of the boys in my class offered to take and eat the gophers we'll be trapping; we also get first dibs on all the vegetables we raise and all the eggs the chickens can squeeze out. and the farmer's market starts this saturday. and we aren't meeting 'till 6:30 now, so i get a whole extra half hour to sleep. huzzah. huzzahs all around.


i hurt. i'm growing. school starts tomorrow, six am. i already want to be back in the woods.