Tuesday, August 21, 2012

my mother the farmer

Good morning. It's cool and clear here, the air filled with fall's blush. I'm on the porch, lazily drinking my tea, thinking of my mother, the farmer, who is in her fields gleaning the goods she's spent all summer tending. She wakes at four to do so: drinking her cup of black coffee, then heading down the hill to harvest her lettuce and arugula and carrots and beets and kale and tomatoes and other good fruits of the world. Then she washes them and carries them up the road to her farm stand, so that others may also eat the good clean fruits of the world. When that work is done she heads back to her fields to weed and water and plant some more.

Meanwhile her daughter, the writer, sits on her porch in the sunshine, drinking tea. This is the perennial story of our lives together, my mother and I. And because I honor and revere the quiet and diligent and important good work she does, here is a Mary Ruefle poem about farming on this perfect mid-August morning.

Jean-Fracois Millet, "Las Espigadoras." 1857

My Life as a Farmer
by James Dean 
(by Mary Ruefle)

Being a farmer is the loneliest thing in the world.
The field is like a religion you dedicate yourself
to, and when there's a cloudburst you can't be 
elsewhere. Hopefulness and a worrisome nature
are among the attributes of a basically farming man. 
You're all alone with your seeds and your concentration. 
You don't have time to see friends and it's not for them
to understand. You don't have anybody, only a pig
and some chickens, and you have to think for them. 
You're all alone with their feed and your concentration
and that's all you have. You're a farmer.