Tag Archives: music

Tenders of Heart

To my readers: Be sure you read all the way down to the end of this blog post where you’ll find a wonderful gift.

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“Farming is risky business, but so is love.”

A Bushel’s Worth: An Ecobiography

If farming’s risky business and love’s the same, what happens when two people chance both?

My grandparents and great-grandparents were farmers. Some of my great-great grandparents worked the land in Norway, England, and Ireland, as well. My father’s grandparents on his mother’s side—Josephine and Martin Jacobson—homesteaded and farmed together for almost 50 years. They grew up near each other in a Norwegian community in Swift County, Minnesota, married in 1904, and raised wheat, barley, turkeys, 11 children, and their own food in Hebron township, Williams County, North Dakota, starting with a quarter section of 160 acres that grew to a full section eventually—a lot of land to farm in those days.

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Their lives were hard: they lost two children to tragedy; had to sell their horses during the Dust Bowl; and lived in a homestead shack from 1907 until their sons built them a “real” house in 1946. They worked side by side on the farm until Martin’s death in 1952. Here they are on their 35th wedding anniversary and at a less formal moment around the same time. See that twinkle in their eyes? I think that comes from joining their lives on the land.

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Last week I walked out to the fields with some new friends and, once again, felt the weight of the memories this farm holds for me. My mind returned to the first planting of garlic, the harvesting of herbs for a first dinner, and the turning of a flower garden for a solstice ceremony so many years ago. Everywhere I look, I see the work John and I have accomplished together, often with friends who share our vision of community supported agriculture and farmland preservation. Still, at the end of the long day, it’s John and I who plan the next day’s work, and the next’s, and the next’s, as far as our dreams will take us.

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Stonebridge was one of the farms selected by the Firehouse Gallery in Longmont this summer for pairing with artists who bring their talents to our land by creating a new view of what our farm means. One of the artists with whom we worked is Jenny Ward Hodgson, a singer/songwriter from Lyons who tends her own beautiful garden on her family’s small homestead in the middle of town (see more of Jenny’s work on her blog, The Song-Knitter). We were honored to have Jenny write a song, Dance the Seasons, for Stonebridge. When John and I listen to Dance the Seasons, it brings tears to our eyes. Thank you, Jenny, for putting into song the joy that happens when two people risk both farming and love together.

 

 

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Filed under ecobiography, memoir, sustainable agriculture, women's writing

Four Mile Fire

A melancholy day with the haze of a wildfire hanging over the foothills. But for those with homes or loved ones in the burn area, a frightening day waiting for news . . . and for rain.

It started two days ago when high winds kicked up flames ignited by something—an RV or propane tank?–not yet confirmed.

The numbers mount: seven thousand acres burned, three thousand people evacuated, 54 homes lost, and eight people unaccounted for.

As I drove south into Boulder this morning where the smoke is thicker and the air smells like a mountain campfire from the burning pines, I thought of Emmy Lou Harris’s “From Boulder to Birmingham”:

And I don’t want to hear a sad story

Full of heartbreak and desire

The last time I felt like this

It was in the wilderness and the canyon was on fire.

And I stood on the mountain

In the night and I watched it burn,

I watched it burn, I watched it burn.

The stories on the radio and from friends say the same thing:

I could see the flames as I drove away.

I watched it burn and hoped for the best.

And this:

I looked at everything in my house and realized nothing mattered except getting my family and animals out alive.

So I’m listening to the soundtrack of the Irish film Once, melancholy music for a day like today.

When your mind’s made up

When your mind’s made up

There’s no point trying to change it

When your mind’s made up.

These haunting songs seem meant for today, even if they’re more about love abandoned and betrayed than any other kind of loss.

Leave, leave,

And free yourself at the same time

Leave, leave,

I don’t understand, you’ve already gone

But in love and in life, we all face moments when the decision’s made for us because there is no other choice.

Times when you don’t even look behind because it doesn’t matter: You’re on your way and there’s no turning back.

And as you go, our thoughts are with you.

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Filed under memoir