notes from maggie's farm
...as though the communicating and communing that take place between us were not the product of intentional efforts, but rather a divine grace. Thomas Moore
The quiet rituals of the day have come to ground our lives here on the farm, as we skip from task to task, in a way that centers the two of us, as we work, hard, together, and separately. They are, for us, Everyday Enchantments.
We lead pretty crazy lives, with at least one of us spending 3 hours a day on the road, among two brick and mortar jobs, and the industry of farming, and writing, and cooking, and photographing, as well. We go in twenty different directions in any given 12 hour period, commonly, and at all hours, day and night. But we come together, ritually, at certain times in each day, for a brief respite. To sit, if for only a few minutes, and connect. Enjoy each other's company. In easy conversation, or with no words at all, as though the communicating and communing that take place between us were not the product of intentional efforts, but rather a divine grace Sometimes a brief prayer before a meal. Sometimes a glass of iced tea and a snack. But always, we find a moment. A precious moment.
I get the call that he's headed this way a little over an hour before his arrival. I take a break from harvesting, or weeding, or watering, or feeding, tending, herding various animals to prepare the tools of ritual.
My dear friends, Karen and Jean Rizzo discovered these perfect implements--said they thought of me as soon as they saw them--and that delights me.What a luxury it is to be known, to have dear friends whose lives are interconnected in that way, so that they think of you, and what you love, and what you do, even when you're faraway. It is, then, the sweet thoughts of precious and generous friends with which I begin the daily ceremony.
Into these two glasses, both elegant and practical, like Karen and Jean, go two tea bags. I might add a little lemon, a sprig of mint, some other berry or herb that strikes my fancy that day, or leave them simply adorned by a special tea--maybe Earl Grey, or Lemongrass. Sometimes, a simple, simply perfect, southern iced tea is the choice of the day, and for that, I turn to Luzianne. Today it's Darjeeling. I'm in a Darjeeling mood. Surely there's a proper song for the Darjeeling mood. I'll look through the CDs. Later.
I fill the glasses with cool filtered water, pop on the tops, and set them in the sun. On the front porch. Awaiting arrival. In all their pretty, perfect, floral splendor.
I'll finish up the task which I've interrupted. Maybe try to clean up a bit. Either the home, or myself. Not enough time for both, both of which my Mother would have done, perfectly, before her husband's return home, but Mother was not a farmer, and her husband did not work nights, then the next mornings, and into the days, like mine. This is a different life, and he rather enjoys my sun-kissed, freckled cheeks, unadorned, and with flyaway hair peeking from under my gardening hat. Utterly imperfect. But he'd say perfectly imperfect. I'm lucky like that.
There will usually be a call when he hits the small town upon who's outskirts we live, to see if I've thought of anything we might need at the store. If the answer is no, that gives me about 15 minutes. It would take me 10. But it takes him 15, because he drives kind of slow when he's beat. So I'll start to put together a snack for the two of us to share. Nothing too heavy. Today it's a few crudite', some cheese, some almonds, a couple of broken homemade tostada shells. We've still got work to do, and we'll want nothing but a nap if I fill up the plate with goodies. But he'll be hungry as a bear, and bears are cranky when they're hungry. Cranky is to be avoided if at all possible. That's why I'll have had my fill of coffee.
By the time the dogs start heralding his homecoming, when he's just about arrived at that spot down the hill where the asphalt becomes gravel....and then dirt, I'll have taken in the now sun-warmed, fully-brewed tea. Pressed the bags with the back of a spoon, and tossed them into the compost bin under the sink, behind the chicken scraps bin, because chickens don't seem to be fond of tea. Added a touch of honey to his, because he has a bit of a sweet tooth, and iced them down. I pour the extra into a glass, for topping off. That little extra will give us a few more minutes together before we get back to the business of homekeep, so it's most important to save.
I'll greet him on the porch with glasses in hand, and though I don't jump, yelp, bark, or wag, because I'm well-trained, I am as happy to see him as each one the dogs that joyfully welcome him home. He'll escape their clutches, and with a "Hi, babydoll!", and a quick kiss on his way to wash the workday from his hands.
This time of year, the beautiful springtime in Texas, we'll meet on the porch where he'll tell me about his day, try his best not to gobble down the delicate snacks in three bites, and then lean back in his chair to enjoy a perfect glass of tea.
Hours later, when he's been ushered off to bed, and I've finished up most of the chores of the day, I'll let the ducks out for one last hurrah. I will have repeated the tea-making ritual, and in the 30 minutes (or an hour, if I'm lucky) before sunset, I'll take my glass to the chair thats perched close to the garden's edge, from which I'll shoo various poultry from the brassicas they seem to think have been planted for the express purpose of their Happy Hour, and I'll settle into my own. A favorite book (right now it's Wendell Berry's), a pup or two in repose at my feet, a wandering cat, reappearing, the click, click, click of the evening sprinklers, a faraway lawn mower's hum, the fragrance of the field of wildflowers next door, and a perfect glass of tea.
These are Everyday Enchantments.