Monday, December 30, 2013

Joy to the World?

Some time ago, I read Mike Madison's Blythe Tomato.  The book is a wonderful insight into the life of a person who is dedicated to growing food for others.  There are reflections on farming, farmers' markets and the people who grow things as well as their perceptions of those who buy produce from them.  It may be time for me to pull this book out and give parts of it a read again.  The book consists of a series of chapters that need not be read sequentially, nor does the book need to be read in its entirety to appreciate it.

One of the observations the author makes is that if there was one thing that he could be criticized for, it would be a lack of joy.  I do not think he was implying unhappiness, nor do I think Madison was trying to indicate that he was unable to appreciate all manner of good things.  But, I do understand the feeling that comes from pouring oneself into something and finding that you may not have the energetic capacity for joy.  Working on a small farm can wear on a person.

Re-learning our ability to appreciate the beauty of Winter
Things on a farm such as ours simply do not go 'as planned' and require constant adjustments.  As a result, you learn not to get too attached to mental pictures of how things should be.  In fact, I've found that I have adjusted my expectations and worked to temper my feelings about failures and successes simply because failure is an integral part of the farm.  And, if you take failure too personally, no amount of success seems to balance those shortcomings out.  The net result is that you may find yourself less able to feel stronger positive emotions simply because you mute the strong negatives to keep yourself functional on the farm. 

Nothing says Christmas to a northerner like snow covered evergreens.

But does this mean I am unhappy?  Does it mean I don't appreciate good people?  Beauty?  Friendship?  Of course, not.  In some ways, I think I recognize good things better than I used too and I use the power of these things to keep me moving when the rest of my life isn't going as planned.  I reframe failures as "results that were not what we hoped for" and proceed to make lemonade.

So, is this a lack of joy?  Or is this a new kind of joy?  Instead of a momentary quick burn of happiness that provides a warm glow, it is a consistent warmth that carries me through and takes the edge off of the chill.  It reminds me to be grateful and points me to the things that keep me happy and interested in all that life offers.

Am I always happy?  Of course not.  But, I have learned ways to find happiness. 

I think most of us have the capacity to change our moods for the better.  Sometimes we just have to make an effort to be less enamored with our self-pity and more willing to be attracted to laughter and contentment.

This field wasn't supposed to be grassy weeds.  That wasn't the plan.  But, we had good friends join us in an attempt to free the broccoli and onions.  Did it save some of the crops?  Yes.  Did some of the crops still fail?  Yes. Do we still remember the positive feelings we got by having these good people come work with us for an afternoon?  Always.

And when the cold overwhelms, think warmer thoughts.
Here's to the joy of good friends and family the joy of a job well done the perfect Black Krim tomato in August farm fresh eggs in the morning native bees buzzing around in the wild asters friendly farm cats that want to 'help' with whatever you are doing people who are interested in local foods and who support local growers cardinals in the tree outside our window opportunities to see nature and work in it plans that come to fruition - just as we envisioned them

and the chance to turn lemons into lemonade.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 


  1. You wrote "the perfect Black Krim tomato in August" and I salivated.

    I can't have it sun kissed now but at least it is in my basement waiting to be soup.

  2. And, at this time of year, that's as good as it gets!

    Seed catalogs are out!


Thank you for your input! We appreciate hearing what you have to say.