Summer is in full swing here. I know it’s true, because the air conditioner kicks on more often than I’d like, battling back the sticky heat of East Tennessee. As much as I dislike the full turn in the weather, 0ur farm is loving it. Thunderstorms gave the ground a deep soaking a few days in a row, and both of the gardens exploded into action. We now have pole beans with four foot runners winding their way up stakes, yellow squash nearly as tall as my knees, and a fresh crop of weeds ready to do battle with our army of hoes.
It’s true: you don’t have to live on a farm to tangle with a skunk. But in 21 years of marriage (next weekend) and four dogs, this was our first run-in.
You live your whole life thinking you’re a pretty normal, middle class, socially acceptable kind of person.
Then you one day you look up from your scones and coffee and realize that your kids are firing rocks at squirrels through an open window.
One of the projects I was most excited about this summer is one of those purely delight-driven, purely fanciful little endeavors that make the best kind of memories: a sunflower house. We attempted one once, years ago, in Washington. I probably should have just hand-fed sprouts to the slugs for all the good it did me. I think we grew three sunflowers that year, which was lovely, but it wasn’t a house. It didn’t create the sweet little hideaway I had hoped for. Call me a pessimist, but I never tried again.
Work while you work.
Play while you play.
This is the way
to be happy and gay.
One thing at a time.
And done well.
Is the best of rules,
As many can tell.
So, work while you work,
And play while you play.
–English nursery rhyme
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We’re shifting gears here, moving into the new rhythm that will define our summer months here on the farm. Priorities are shifting, the things that claim the bulk of our time are changing.
There is no mud quite like farm mud.
If you have a patch of earth you’ve broken open and tried to tame, you know this is true. Farm mud is a beast all its own, a subspecies of the normal dirt and water formula churned liberally with gravel and grass and compost and fertilizer. And we all know what fertilizer is, right?
I’m not sure I will ever quite get over the “how cool is that?!?” factor of loading up before breakfast to run down to the post office and pick up a box of chicks.
The email was a welcome bit of encouragement: you are not forgotten, I pray for you and your family, your work. There was a simple ask at the end. Just a request to partner in ministry.
And yet… the tears.
We school year-round—three months on, one month off. The shorter, intermittent breaks suit the rhythm of our family well. By the end of a twelve week summer break, all of us were craving structure and weary of open-ended days. Too, we find the heat of the summer in the south exhausting at its peak, and not enjoyable in the “we’re on vacation!” sense. So: three on, one off. The perfect compromise.