> jumping into life.


I don't like cities. I don't like being in them and I especially don't like driving in them. Too fast, too angry, too many turns.

Work brought me to Boston for three days, and I didn't like it. To the point that I ate at the restaurant in my hotel each night rather than have to go back out into the city -- and considering that the best ethnic food we have in Vermont is poutine, usually I'd go out of my way for some real Greek or Jamaican or even Italian food. But it was all too much for this country girl to handle, so I spent my evenings with my book as close to "home" as I could get. In fact, all the navigating and being honked at and getting lost and meeting new people completely exhausted me.

So when I had an hour to kill in Concord, it was worth my five dollars to make the small pilgrimage to Walden Pond. To walk along the edge of the water, on a clear day in what was still October, with the geese veeing overhead. To pace out the markers at the cabin site, hardly larger than our chicken house (though with a better view). To think about Thoreau and simplicity and autumn and root cellars and land.

I used to smirk at the knowledge that he walked over to Ralph's for dinner some nights, that he bought in flour and and took his laundry home for washing. But I have since lived in lonely places and small, and I have planted my own beans and hoed them, and I don't smirk now. Besides which, he never laid claim to hermitage.

But a life apart, just a little ways apart. It was worth my five dollars and my time to be walking in the woods beneath the still-changing trees, the pond so bright, the geese so loud overhead. To remember that I am not the only one ill-suited to cities, and that it's okay to want to be out in the woods, alone, for a while.


FYI: I've got a poem up at qarrtsiluni for the "Words of Power" issue, which is shaping up to be quite as intriguing as I'd expected. So far I've particularly enjoyed this poem and these photographs. Check it out.


My friend M, after some months of un- and under-employment, got a job yesterday that combines two of his greatest passions and skills. It's not an overwhelmingly well-paid position and it isn't a permanent one either, but someone is going to pay him to ski and take photographs and those are the two things he'd do most all winter no matter what.

After we finished the toasting and got down to the lasanga, I said, somewhat petulantly, that somebody ought to give me the job of my dreams. We're expanding the farming experiment quite substantially next year - we should have a 20-member CSA and a spot at a market or two - and farming is the dream and I'll be doing it. But I'm still going to need a paying job, and I'm going to need one pretty soon 'cause the ones I've got now are ending.

And somebody ought to give me the job of my dreams. Which statement, however, does beg the question: what exactly would the job of my dreams look like?

It's not waitressing, I'll tell you that. I'm a good waitress, and I'm sick of it. I'm sick, in fact, of the low-wage-retail-smile-all-day category all together.

I know this is a crappy time to be picky about getting a job. But it would be really nice to find one that I can stay with and stay happy with. We won't be full-time farmers anytime soon, especially if we buy some land next year, which is what we really, really, really want to do. So I don't want another crappy job that I'm planning to quit as soon as I can.

So the perfect job? It lets me work full-time in the winter and half-time in the summer (or, potentially, pays me enough in the winter to last all year). It pays enough. It lets me work either outside or with my brain or both. Learning things would be good. Not starting really early in the morning would be good. Food and nature and agriculture and animals are good. I like people, provided that I also do other things sometimes.

I loved working in the vet's office - it had the brain-work and the learning and the animals and the sometimes people. Obviously I like farmwork, but generally it fails in the "pays enough" category, and also in the part where I need to work in the winter.

Realistically, I'll probably take the first job I can get that fits "pays enough." But I think it'd be good to at least know what that perfect job looks like, so I'll recognize it if it happens to come along.


The teapot boils
and boils but never whistles.
The rain comes cold and soaks the ground,
and all our lines sink out of true.

November looms,
and the rain obscures the mountains
where snow has already fallen twice.

At night I chant the tasks ahead,
an unconsoling mantra,

but the trees are still blazing.
One is a bright and yellow flame,
a spark struck against its own black bark
and the slate-grey sky.

I set down the sledgehammer,
push the rain out of my eyes.
Take another swing.


Last night I made the first batch of winter-soup-made-from-summer-scratch. It may not really be winter, but it was 27 degrees last night so I think that's close enough. This is one of my go-to soups for as long as the ingredients hold out, and it's always extra-pleasing because not only is it colorful and delicious, but we've grown almost everything ourselves. The basic gist is this:

From the root cellar: onion, garlic, potato, carrot, and celeriac. From the freezer: tomato sauce and chicken stock. From the pantry: black beans, canned corn, zucchini and red pepper relish. From the string hanging in front of the window: dried peppers. From the counter: the last tomatillos. From the garden: chard.

Do the onions and in butter or bacon fat or oil. Cumin and turmeric and a little cinnamon are nice, even if you didn't grow them. Add the other cellar veggies and the tomatillos and dried peppers, all chopped in to spoonable bits. (I like to follow Deborah Madison's advice and have the soup water simmering separately with all my trimmings while I do the rest to make a little mini-stock, especially if I don't actually have any in the freezer.)

Add the tomato sauce and stock, and simmer until the potatoes are about done. Oh, and soak the beans the night before and cook them separately. Then dump in the corn and its juice and the relish and its juice and the beans. When everything is warmed through and the potatoes are all cooked, add the chard, chopped up.

Later on I'll add dried tomatillos instead of fresh, and kale instead of chard. Chives are nice to snip on top if you've got some. Chorizo would be a good addition, too, I think. We didn't grow any of that, but there's a turkey farm nearby that does. And some cheddar or sour cream on top wouldn't be amiss, either.

Yum! Hope you all are staying warm, too.


It's looking like a hard frost for tonight - between 33 and 28 degrees, depending on whose forecast you believe. Then another on Tuesday night, maybe even colder.

On Tuesday night, we'll be out in the woods somewhere as part of a three-day backpacking trip to celebrate our anniversary tomorrow. (!) So today, before we leave, I have to gather up all the last remains of the peppers and tomatillos, and also try and wrangle a warmer sleeping bag than the one I've got.

And then into the woods! The hills are bright with their copper and gold and the deep red and the tawn and bronze. I haven't been backpacking even for a night in maybe two years, and I can't wait. Horray for fall!


This rain smells like autumn. This rain smells of leaf-fall, mulch-mud, wood-fire, and, though impossible, the sea. Even after the rain stops, the air hangs thick with mist and promise. When it clears, just for a moment, the hills across the valley shine in their sudden finery of copper and gold. Even where the leaves cling to their green, it is not the same green as it had been.

We hike in the promise-mist. Scraps of gold and copper litter the trail. Above us, the canopy of leaves still green, but not the green it had been. A tired green, an ending green, even though vibrant still against the mist-bright sky. Even though green and no color else, the shades of fall can be sensed somehow in those leaves. Green that is really gold. Green that is really red, orange, fallen, trampled and turned already back to earth.

Back at home, the kitten waits. She comes running, mewing, full of wiggle and purr. When I look at her, the bottom drops out of my heart. How can anything be so tiny? She is sweet and fierce and fearless, except she fears the road. When she tires of destroying paper bags and stuffed mice, she will climb the full length of my body to balance easily on my shoulder and purr and purr and purr. She will curl in the crook of my arm while I'm reading, and purr and purr and purr. She will wallow in the space between J and I, so thoroughly asleep that we can move her when one of us gets up and she does not wake, but continues to purr and purr and purr. How can anything be so small, so soft, so very tiny? The bottom drops out of my heart, and love pours out, and I am steeped, I am soaked, I am suffused with love and love and love.