Tag Archives: spring

Violet Spring


I’ve been digging up wild violets this week, repotting them for a plant sale in May. A couple years ago, only a few small patches of violets grew around the farm. This spring, I’m finding them all over the place in both purple and white. After coming in like a lion, March is going out like a lamb with gentle breezes and sunshine; I wonder whether a good spring for violets portends a good season for vegetables, as well.

I’m seeing spring from a new perspective this year: the eyes of my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson as he learns about the change of seasons from winter to spring with its promise of new life. We took a little trip to the feed store last week for chicken food and to see the many colors and varieties of baby chicks, from grey-with-brown-striped Golden-laced Wyandotte to yellow-with-striped-wing Speckled Sussex. Back at the Stonebridge coop, I pointed out a Speckled Sussex, all grown up with her red spotted feathers, and we found a tea-brown egg she’d laid in a nest.


In the kitchen, I showed my grandson the dozen blue eggs we’d have for breakfast the next day—not the kind of eggs that have chicks, I assured him (technically, they’re not, since we don’t have a rooster). He’s waiting for chicks at school from incubated eggs. “They’re hatching,” he says, like it’s an adventure of momentous effort and no little mystery. Since we don’t hatch chicks from eggs on our farm, I’m curious to see what he’ll think about this hatching idea once the chicks have emerged from the shells with their tufted heads and bulging eyes—not exactly the sweet peepers of story books, but they’ll soon grow into something more recognizably cute and cuddly.


Along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, spring brings wind. Last weekend, my grandson and I both learned about wind as we ran in the park with our little kite straggling behind us. “Run into the wind,” I cried as we ran, him looking behind at the kite and me looking ahead to make sure we didn’t run into a sunbather, pole, or tree. I was winded, myself, from running like that.

On a March day with desultory clouds, sometimes the wind cooperates with kite-flying and sometimes it doesn’t. Our best success was standing still in wait for the breeze to catch our little kite and buoy it just a few feet over our heads. “Which direction is the wind blowing now?” I’d ask. “This way,” my grandson would say, as he turned his face to find it. What fun to launch a kite and see it fly, if only for a minute or two.

Last year my grandson helped us harvest vegetables from his family’s garden, popping cherry tomatoes right into his mouth. This year, he’ll get to help plant them, too. Parents tell us all the time that their kids will eat vegetables they’ve grown themselves or “picked” in the barn at our farm. “Where did this spinach come from?” I asked my grandson last weekend. “The farm!” he laughed—and then ate the vegan spinach lasagna I’d made for dinner. PBJ may currently be his favorite food, but this spring he’s learning new lessons in where food can come from–close to home and grown by someone he loves.



Filed under ecobiography, memoir, sustainable agriculture

This is What Fresh Tastes Like

“What passes for cookery in England . . . is cutting off the delicious skins of vegetables. ‘In which,’ said Mr. Bankes, ‘all the virtue of the vegetable is contained.'”

                                                            Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

At Stonebridge Farm, we like to say that fresh is a flavor. Some students discovered that this weekend when our friend brought four of her sustainability students to the farm to help us weed the newly emerging spinach and carrot beds. As we worked with horis and hoes in the soft spring sun, one young man, a former student in John’s calculus class, asked me what my favorite thing was at the farm.

“Besides John?” I teased him.

I have so many favorites here, I had to think a bit. “The flowers,” I said, “and the chickens because they’re so friendly.” From his laughter, I don’t think he’d ever heard that chickens are friendly before.

Another new discovery was the taste of vegetables right out of the garden. After we finished weeding, we picked radishes for everyone to take home. I told the students they could eat some as they picked. “Is this what a radish tastes like?” one asked in wonder. “I’ve never tasted one like this before.”

“That’s because,” another friend said, “you can’t get a fresh radish at a grocery store. Not fresh like this anyway.”

“Fresh is a flavor,” I told them. “This is what fresh tastes like.”

When we moved to the spinach bed, another student declined the offer of spinach. “I don’t like spinach,” she assured us.

“Just try a leaf, okay?” She tentatively chewed a piece–and then smiled.

This is spinach? . . . Okay, I’ll take some.”

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. How sad for 18-year-olds—from upper middle-class families who undoubtedly have some access to raw vegetables in stores—not to know the fresh taste of vegetables. A salad bar may be the closest they’ve encountered and that’s just not the same.

Fresh is a flavor. Years ago, before processed food composed the majority of people’s diets in this country, even the Morton’s salt company knew about the flavor of fresh. Here’s an ad from a 1940s Life magazine that features the taste of “tender, young” vegetables as part of a flavor duo:

At Stonebridge, spring means fresh, tender vegetables like the ones pictured in the ad. Our members anticipate the sweetness of newly harvested spinach and the sparkle of plump radishes on opening day. Our season starts a few weeks earlier than most CSAs in our area because we can grow early vegetables so well in our foothills microclimate. Green onions, radishes, and lettuce offer a first salad to our members, while spinach and chard are the main ingredients of so many of our favorite meals: lasagna, fritters, enchiladas, quiche, and pastas. Even fresh chives can flavor the filling for a goat cheese tart.

In the foraging class we recently hosted, we learned about other spring plants that provide delicious and nutritious meals. Dandelion greens, of course, are great in salad (watch a 92-year-old cook prepare her Depression-era salad here), but did you know that nettles make a wonderful saag? We got to sample some, along with nettle gnocchi, at our workshop, right after we picked nettle tops for everyone to try at home, a new taste for spring since it’s one of the first plants to emerge. (You can learn more about foraging at Hunger and Thirst for Life).

Asparagus, too, means spring. We have two patches on the farm, one we planted and another along the fence line that we didn’t. There the birds “plant” the asparagus as they sit on the wire and sing. We let some of those plants go to seed every year to help them spread.

And in the foraging class, our teacher discovered another wild spot for asparagus near a bridge over our irrigation ditch where we’d cleared willows last fall.

With asparagus at $5 a bunch in the store, we’re rich in asparagus. Tonight I’ll drizzle some fat spears with olive oil to roast and eat with grated goat cheese and walnuts over pasta. Last week, I placed a few spears left out of the previous night’s quiche on a pizza—delicious as it roasted on top of the cilantro pesto.

This is what fresh tastes like as April turns to May: the virtue of spring vegetables, the scent of lilacs and dogwood, and the down of dandelions drifting in the breeze.


Filed under ecobiography, sustainable agriculture

Another New Year

Spring has sprung,

The grass has riz,

I wonder where

The flowers is.

                              –Kayann’s 4th grade poem

January 1st is the beginning of a new year when we make promises for the twelve months to come. But spring brings its own sense of renewal. After winter’s chill, I’m always cheered to find the daffodils naturalizing along the ditch bank in bloom again.



March was warmer this year than usual, with NO SNOW. I’m capitalizing it because I can’t remember a March without snow here on the Front Range. We’ve always had snow in March, and not just snow but BIG snow, with many wet inches blanketing the ground. Sometimes, March snowstorms close schools and airports. On my 50th birthday three years ago, the snow was so wet and deep, everything shut down. I even had to cancel my birthday plans for chocolate soufflé at Le Central in Denver.

With no snow in March this year, we were a little worried about getting the season off to a good start, so snow two nights ago and a few stray flakes and misty rain yesterday were welcome. Even better, the temperatures didn’t fall low enough to hurt the fruit trees that have already started blossoming. Trees in bloom this time of year hold promises for the season. If we don’t still get a hard frost (entirely likely in April or even early May), we’ll have apples for cider pressing this fall.

The old apple in front of the house

This week’s moisture encouraged the seeds John planted last week to emerge in the spring garden. The sugar, snap, and snow peas have germinated well, pledging many pleasant hours of picking in the pea patch to come (try saying that three times). This Saturday we’ll transplant thousands of alliums—onions and leeks—into the moistened beds. Maturing from stout, grass-like blades to round, juicy globes, alliums spend the longest time of any crop in the ground. Once they’re planted, they ground the season with an assurance of dinners to come.

All this generative growth holds another kind of promise, one transacted between farmers and the earth. If we do our part—planting, watering, weeding, thinning, and harvesting–the soil, water, wind, and sun will do the rest. I think we get the better end of the deal. As we start a new season of renewal, let’s work with spring’s optimism toward potent dreams, garden fresh and ours for the growing.


Filed under ecobiography, sustainable agriculture

Winter Leftovers: From Closet to Bowl

Today feels like spring might be . . . almost . . . willing to show its face around here. That doesn’t mean we won’t get snow in March or even April or May. But it does mean it’s time to start working on Saturday mornings with our bartering crew again. Tomorrow we’ll make soil and seed brassicas and transplant lettuces into the newly renovated bluehouse and rake the sticks that have blown all over the farm this windy winter. Stonebridge Season 21 will be underway!

The advent of spring brings thoughts of fresh vegetables but we won’t have veggies in the garden for a while yet. We do have some wintered-over spinach in the fields that we can harvest from time to time, but mainly we’re still eating the food we preserved from last year’s gardens by freezing, dehydrating, canning, or just storing in various ways.

Carnival Winter Squash

We still have lots of “sundried”—dehydrated—tomatoes for pasta, quiches, and omelettes. In the insulated cool room of our barn, we have garlic and onions. In the bottom drawer of the refrigerator, we have a few carrots that haven’t gone soft yet (hint: leave just a stub of green stem on them and they’ll store longest). In the freezer, we have broccoli, peas, mushrooms, and some chopped peppers, along with frozen tubs of marinara sauce, salsa, and cooked squash. In the closet of the unheated bedroom, we have a butternut and a carnival squash that still look great (an insulated cooler in a garage works well too). The shelves of the root cellar are lined with canned chutneys and jams.  And in buckets in the barn, we have dried beans.

Speckled Rose Beans (we're not sure of the variety name)

This winter we pledged to start using a pressure cooker. Our friends who use them kept encouraging us to give it a try, but we’d both been scarred by childhood fears of kitchen explosions in the old days when pressure cookers didn’t have the safety features they have now. I also associate pressure cookers with what my grandmother called “pressed chicken,” which she’d make for sandwiches on our long drive home from North Dakota to Colorado every summer. My grandmother was a great cook and I miss her fresh bread, but I always found that chicken a little strange with its gooey texture and suspicious gel when refrigerated. Just another childhood memory to make me a vegetarian today.

But we figured we could get over those scars enough to use a pressure cooker for beans at the very least. We grow several varieties of dried beans at Stonebridge, including the Oregon state bean, Peregion, a beautiful black and white bean that has a distinctive flavor. I like beans but never felt like we were cooking them to their optimal texture.  One trick that helps is to put 1 tsp of baking soda in the soaking water overnight and then rinse well before cooking. This helps make the beans less gassy. Another trick is to never, ever salt them until they’re done cooking because salt makes them tougher.

Oregon Peregion Beans

These tricks helped my bean consumption but I still didn’t like having to leave them on the stove or in the crockpot for hours and I still didn’t love the texture. I wanted more from my beans, especially after we’d spent so much time growing, threshing, cleaning, and soaking them.

So we bought a 6-qt pressure cooker, held our breaths, and got it rocking with our soaked beans, water, a couple veggie broth cubes, some Cuban-inspired cumin and oregano, and a couple cloves of garlic. After about 20 minutes, the cooker come to pressure and the top regulator weight started dancing over low heat. We simmered for 15 minutes and then shut off the burner and let the cooker slowly release the pressure, another 25 minutes. Now we’re brave enough to put the whole thing under running water, which makes the steam release in a few minutes, but that first time, we thought we’d wait.

Jacob's Cattle Beans

The beans were wonderful—tender, creamy even, with delicious flavor. We’ve been making beans once a week all winter in a large enough batch to freeze extra for lunch burritos, nachos, or enchiladas.

We’ve graduated to another dish as well, one that uses a winter-stored squash from our closet. If you’ve got a pressure cooker, try the Risotto with Squash and Sage recipe below. I don’t have fresh sage this time of year so used dried and it was just fine. I also had enough uncooked squash left to use in a soup, so I got two dishes out of one butternut squash.

If you’ve still got pumpkin in your freezer (many people roast, puree, and freeze them for bread or pie), try the Pumpkin-Citrus Bundt Cake recipe too. We host digital storytelling workshops here in the summer so I was looking for something that I could make ahead and freeze for a morning treat later. This cake is delicious and gets even a little moister with freezing. I left out the poppy seeds & orange peel and added mini-chocolate chips because I love pumpkin and dark chocolate together. I don’t see why winter squash wouldn’t work here as well—they’re pretty interchangeable with pumpkins.

We’ll keep eating beans and finish off what’s left in our freezer and storage. By then, the spinach will be thriving and the lettuces will be big enough in the bluehouse for harvest. Next year, we’ll have greens and carrots growing all winter in the bluehouse and that will be a delight. But we’ve done okay this winter with what we’ve put by from our own fields–and we’re glad we got over our fear of exploding pressure cookers!

Pressure Cooker Risotto with Winter Squash and Sage
Adapted from County Home, Feb 2008

½ cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbl. Olive oil
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
3 ½ – 4 cups veggie broth
1 ½ Lb. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1-inch chunks
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh sage or 1 heaping Tbl dried sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated parmesan cheese for topping

In a 4- or 6-qt pressure cooker, sauté onion in hot oil over medium-high heat until golden. Stir in rice and coat with oil. Carefully add wine; cook and stir until rice has absorbed the wine (about 30 seconds). Add 3 ½ cups broth and cubed squash.

Lock lid in place. Over high heat, bring cooker to pressure. Reduce heat just enough to retain pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.

Quick-release the pressure by placing cooker under cold running water. When the pressure indicator has popped down, carefully remove lid, tilting away from you to allow steam to escape.

Set the cooker over medium-high heat again and stir vigorously. It will look fairly soupy at this point.

Cook, uncovered, until mixture thickens and rice is tender but still chewy, about 3-5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. If it becomes dry before the rice is done, add ½ cup broth. The finished risotto should be slightly runny because it will continue to thicken on the plate.

Turn off heat. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with additional cheese on top if desired. Makes 4 main dish servings or 8 side dish servings.

Pumpkin-Citrus Bundt Cake
Adapted from Krista Frank’s recipe in Country Woman

2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 ¼ cugs sugar (turbinado is fine)
1 ¼ cups fat-free milk
2 eggs
½ cup orange juice
1/3 cup safflower oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup unbleached flour
1 ½ cup whole wheat or WW pastry flour
2 Tbl grated orange peel (optional)
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbl cornstarch
1 Tbl poppy seeds (optional)
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
½ each allspice, nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.

In large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, milk, eggs, juice, oil, and vanilla until well blended.

In separate bowl, combine flours, orange peel, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, poppy sees, spices, and salt.

Beat dry mixture and chocolate chips into pumpkin mixture until blended. Pour into prepared bundt pan.

Bake at 350 for 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes clean.

Cool for 10 minutes. Place a rack on top of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack.

This freezes well when wrapped in foil and thawed before serving.

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins


Filed under ecobiography, sustainable agriculture

Many Happy Returns

The toad returned to the greenhouse last Friday—Earth Day—as she does every spring at this time. But this year she brought a baby toad with her, so small I almost missed it squatting on the wooden walkway that crosses the lily pond in the greenhouse.

The baby toad is lighter than its mother, almost translucent, with smoother, lightly speckled skin. Mommy and baby like to sit together in the potted iris we call the “toad throne” of the lily pond. Even when they’re off exploring, we can see their imprints in the mud, the baby’s a miniature version of its mother’s.

I’m always relieved when the toad comes back in the spring because it means the cycles of nature are in balance and proceeding as they should, despite whatever crazy things are going on in the rest of the world. I believe the toads’ return brings luck to the season, and since this will be our 20th as a CSA, we’ve obviously been benefitting from toad luck for quite some time.

But wait! I just ran out to the greenhouse to get yet another picture of the toads and found the baby on the board we place in the pond as a toad ramp. The baby looked smaller than I remembered and was darker but maybe it was just sitting in a different position or in different light. I took its picture with my telephoto lens so that I didn’t have to get too close—looked pretty good with the green lily pad beneath.

And then as I turned to put my camera away, something else caught my eye. The first baby was sitting in the greenery at the edge of the pond. Two baby toads! What luck we shall have this season!

I like to mark cycles and returns and anniversaries because it reminds me that life continues from day to day, season to season, year to year without my doing anything to make this process happen. In fact, my actions are usually irrelevant to any of it, with a few exceptions, like this blog.

Today is the first anniversary of pearlmoonplenty and I’m proud of that. I started this blog to give myself a dedicated space for writing practice but it’s become more than that. Even when I was busy teaching this past semester, I looked forward to sharing my experiences and reflections with my readers, some whom I know and others whom I don’t. A blog is wonderful in that regard: what you send out, you get back in often surprising ways.

With pearlmoonplenty, I’ve been able to develop ideas that have been brewing for a while, as well as to jaunt off in new directions as my whims and circumstances dictate. One of those directions has been work on a genre I call “ecobiography,” which I define as a lifewriting text that places the writer’s identity and experiences within the context of the natural world, whether in a wilderness, rural, or even urban setting. Ecobiographies reflect on questions like where do our individual ideas about nature originate? How might nature be a guide for conducting our lives? What other living beings are with us in this world? How are we connected and what do we learn or gain from each other?

For my readers in the Lyons/Boulder area, I’ll be teaching an ecobiography workshop on Friday, May 20, here at Stonebridge Farm (see our website link to the right). I’m also working on a writing guide to ecobiography, something I hope to finish this year. Pearlmoonplenty has been an inspiration to my writing in this genre and I look forward to sharing more ecobiography—along with more stories, book chats, and photographs–in the coming year.

So thank you to my readers for keeping me going. Like the toads returning each spring, your support of pearlmoonplenty makes me feel lucky. I’m excited to see what the next year brings!


Filed under ecobiography, memoir, sustainable agriculture

Feel Good Spring

I’ve been cleaning up the perennial flowers on this spring equinox day, trying, as I do every year, to dig the grass out of the beds. Town gardeners always wonder why this is such a chore here on the farm because they’re imagining the type of grass that’s grown in yards, grass with relatively short root systems that trowels up without much effort.

But out here, we’ve got prairie rhizome grass running through the soil with roots to 10 feet deep. Of all the plants that live at Stonebridge, prairie grass is the one that most defines Stonebridge for me. Whenever we cultivate flowers, herbs, vegetables, or fruits, we uncover a vast web of fibrous grass roots as deep as we can dig.

One species in particular, Bromus Inernis, commonly called Smooth Brome Grass, is a tall prairie grass that likes to invade my perennial beds, its slender stalk arching from the weight of seed heads bronzed in the July heat. Smooth Brome was introduced from Eurasia in the 1880s and I can’t help but respect the endurance of this grass in inhabiting our arid region.

Growing perennials is somewhat foolhardy in this situation because there’s no getting the grass out permanently. In fact, “permanent” is a word that describes the grass, not our ability to control it. From rhizome grass I have learned that the true meaning of “grassroots” is found below the surface in the tenacious weaving of many into one, as well as in its indomitable persistence. We may manage to clear out grass on the surface of the garden, but that interwoven root structure will survive, sending up new blades one day when we’ve got our backs turned. Still, each spring our efforts pay off for a short while and we’ve learned to live with the inevitability of the grass’s return.

As I was weeding, I was thinking about a talk John and I joined on local food last night with a group interested in building their local food shed in a small town northeast of us. The night was hosted by some good friends who run a successful energy efficiency business and have turned their own yard into a veritable farmyard with chickens, compost bins, and gardens. Their town has a small farmer’s market and a locally owned grocery store whose owner is interested in doing more with local food, but both could use more support. Our friends are planning gardens outside their business office with dreams of a CSA down the road. I was excited to hear all the great ideas from the participants and I’m hopeful that small towns and neighborhoods like this can bring together their constituents in creating new kinds of food systems.

I said to our friend that local food is a “feel good” issue but I didn’t mean that in a derogatory way, as if food were a superficial issue or that people are drawn to it for their own benefit only. Instead, I think feeling good is where we need to start because what’s coming—peak oil, increased environmental degradation, and even struggles within agriculture itself over chemicals, GMOs, and ownership of production—is going to be weighty. So why not start with something that can be controlled to some extent at the local level and that does make us actually feel good—that is, eating food? We can also feel good when we grow it, prepare it, preserve it, and share it. Maybe this work will strengthen us for the other less feel good battles ahead.

The United Nations just released a report called Agro-Ecology and the Right to Food. The article I read cites Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report, in a press release detailing the solutions to our current agriculture problems: “We won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.”

I like the term “agro-ecology” because it acknowledges that food is best grown in individual ecosystems, not in homogenous industrialized fields that use chemical inputs like gasoline and pesticides in an attempt to outdo nature. I also think the term acknowledges that the people who eat the food are part of a food system’s ecology. That doesn’t mean farmers in one area can’t share information and even seeds with farmers in another, but rather that the control of our agricultural resources must belong to everyone who eats, not just corporations or the governments carrying out their interests.

Our farm’s slogan is “When the community feeds itself, the land and the people prosper” and a major part of the work we do is advocating for local control of food and preservation of local agricultural land. By returning to the interwoven grassroots that connect us through our human right to safe, healthy, and affordable food, together we can figure out how to feel good about what we’re eating.

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The Same Moments

May 18, 2010

We’ve had a remarkably cold spring, remarkable in the sense that we’re all remarking on it. Yesterday morning was the first sunshine we’d seen in a while and we weren’t sure what to make of all that dazzle. Wearing only a t-shirt, I weeded the raised herb bed under a wide blue sky with Mt Meeker to the west sheathed in more snow than I’ve ever seen in May. Today, though, is cool and cloudy again and I’m missing the sunshine already. I’ll have to wear a sweater to transplant lavender and I’m not feeling as eager to rush outside as I did in yesterday’s warmth. Weather-wise, I can’t quite seem to get where I want to be. 

In thinking about my life at 50, I’m trying to find a word that starts with “ambi,” meaning “both,” because I often feel like I’m experiencing conflicting situations or emotions at the same time. “Ambivalent” isn’t the right word because that implies that I don’t have strong feelings one way or another, which certainly isn’t true. Quite the opposite in fact. Same for “ambiguous”; although sometimes things do seem a bit unclear, I feel more of a “both/and” than “either/or.” “Ambidextrous” is the closest since my life suddenly seems to require using both hands to juggle all I’m trying to keep in the air at once, but that word seems too breezy or too skillful for the way I’m feeling now.

 Maybe I need to coin a new word: ambipathy. Just as “antipathy” means feelings against something and “sympathy” means feelings with something, “ambipathy” can mean feeling both good and bad about something at the same time—and that’s how I often feel about my life. The things that bring me great joy can also bring excruciating pain.

But poet Joy Harjo says it better than I ever could in her poem “She Had Some Horses.” Here Harjo writes of horses possessed by an unnamed “she”:

She had horses who were bodies of sand.

She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.

Some of Harjo’s horses are beautiful and wise; others are devastated and dangerous. But the poem turns on the convergence of these horses in the last three lines:

She had some horses she loved.

She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.

 Sometimes when I wake—especially the mornings just before sunrise when it’s too early to get up but too late to go back to sleep—I don’t know whether to welcome or dread the day before me. After years of following the same path, I’m branching out, developing new opportunities, stretching my skills in seemingly satisfying ways. Yet that work is hard, even exhausting, and I often wonder whether it’s worth it.

Working with others at 50 is difficult too. I seem determined to push back more now than I ever did when I disagree or find myself confronted with rude or hurtful behavior born of others’ self-absorption or distraction. I’m just plain angry at the carelessness around me, from the negligent clerks who can’t get off their cellphones to count back my change to the greed fueling BP and Haliburton’s oil spill in the Gulf. I get frustrated by those closest to me too and I can be hard on them—and on myself.

But then the sun shines and the sky arches over my head as I transplant tiny herbs into finally warming soil and dig out grass, dandelions, and bindweed. On a ten-acre farm, there’s something satisfying about spring cleaning a 4 x 10 bed, knowing that with an honest first effort, the weeds won’t completely take over and the plants will make a good show.

Maybe ambipathy is what 50 is all about: life is very, very good, even amongst what’s very, very bad. We don’t get to choose one over the other but rather live in moments of inherent contradiction between love and hate, joy and suffering, because these

are the same


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