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Walkers Will Walk and Thinkers Will Think

March 31, 2009


It snowed today.  We were just thinking that spring was on its way, Fran had managed to get into the garden and plant some early peas and spinach and the wind seemed to bite just a smidgen less.  Then we woke up to white.  There was frost on the double paned glass in the green house and it looked like our plans for outside work needed to be reconsidered.

img_02911I met a grad student at Cornell a few weeks ago, he was from South Africa and grew up on a family owned medium scale tomato farm.  When I asked him about the weather in Ithaca he laughed, “you know, people here just love to find things to complain about.  I find that the cold, the snow the change is good for me.  Snow,” he paused, “snow has a way of changing the world, some how it all sounds different when there is snow around.”

Here the world is different with snow. 

img_03302I spent the day cleaning out the Shed from a bunch of feed dust that had accumulated when the chicken and pig feed was delivered.  Then in the afternoon Tony and I decided to be creative and artistic with the greenhouse chimney.  The stove that keeps things warm down there was having back draft problems.  The chimney pipe is long and uninsulated.  There is a long section under a warm bench that is almost horizontal, and it does not have a cap on the end of it.  So we bought a cap and some fiberglass to insulate it and help the chimney draft better.  And it turned out great, a little late for the Christmas season albeit, but colorful nonetheless.

After a dinner made from canned tomato sauce, frozen pesto from the garden and blanched and frozen veggies the sun was distracting me from my dish washing duties.  The orientation of the house is intended to make the most of winter sun, and so we have a lot of south facing windows.  Behind the dense foliage of sprouting sweet potatoes, tomato plants and random bulbs the smoke from the greenhouse chimney was playing tag with the clouds above, and I wanted to play.

Some have said that free thought is a curse.  I’m not sure what I think but I certainly do it a lot.  Miguel Unamuno’s character San Manuel Bueno struggles with this very issue.  He believes that thought is spawned from free time, and that idle thought is a sin.  Yet I can hardly see the difference between idle thought and philosophy.  San Manuel Bueno struggled with it, I have chosen to embrace it.

Click for a clearer view

Click for a clearer view

On average I work from 7am to 7pm.  With an hour for lunch, and maybe a quick nap my work day is ten to eleven hours.  When my work is done, I’m still in the same beautiful place where I woke up, and while at times this stationary existence would have driven me crazy I relish the depth that staying put can have.  As I washed the last of the dishes and looked south over the snow covered pastures I realized I have spent a few days now in the same spot and I still don’t know the place.  So I went for a walk.

I lived a transient life for the majority of my “adult” life.  Moving from one city to the next, an apartment here, another there, suitcases that never get unpacked and rooms that never quite welcome you in.  I notice that in these places I never got to know my immediate surroundings.  Nearby parks?  The local businesses around me? My neighbors?  The focus was always people, and people were always moving and so was I.

img_0374Today I got to know the woods just a little better.  The details, the color, the silence and the noise; none are strangers to me but none have ever been my home.  And so I walked and lost my self in thought.  I wandered between hoses of a maple tree taps, found the property line and followed it and discovered that my sense of direction is fallible when I am not paying attention.  My camera did a fine job of recording some of the inspirations for these thoughts and I have included a few highlights in the selection below.  I will sleep well tonight.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 1, 2009 5:21 am

    Oh, Nate, dude… I’m happy for you. You were really looking forward to something like this, and you found it.

    You know my father was worried about you moving to the farm, getting trapped in the animals and the seeds and loosing your unamunian (Suárez inspired) toughtful life. He’ll be glad to know you haven’t.

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