A few days ago, Peter and I, visiting a dear friend who has an amazing farm in rural Georgia, had the good fortune of spending the night there. Time with this particular friend is always special. She works as a family therapist during the week, and farms her land on the weekends. She is a hardy and heart-y 83-year-old. She has cows and a few lambs, a donkey and a dog. She used to also have llamas, many sheep and two pigs, named Barbe and Que. But one night her many sheep (each one with a special name) were slaughtered by coyote’s. Thereafter she couldn’t bear to have more than a few lambs ever again, and she no longer names them.
There’s a playhouse, equipped with a front porch, electricity and a brick fireplace, in the yard near the farm house she lives in and further out, there’s a collection of birdhouses of various styles which stand high on posts, creating a little village for the birds. After reading Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, in which May builds a wailing wall (you might recall that May feels the wrongs of the world as if they were her own) our friend began building a stone wall along a section of the property near blueberry bushes and the orchard she designed. Now, years later, the wall is quite long and the pastoral scene, lovely, accentuated by a flag post further out where an American Flag waves back and forth in the wind.
After September 11th our friend invited her closest friends out to the farm for a picnic and memorial ceremony. We gathered around the flag post, pledged allegiance, prayed, honored the dead, the suffering, our wounded country, and stood in awe as one of her workers, a Mexican immigrant with a beautiful tenor voice who had just gotten his citizenship the week before, sang the Star Spangled Banner with tears running down his cheeks, and ours.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the farm this week: how special it was to have a good visit with our friend; how wonderful it was to be immersed in Nature; how freeing it felt to be without our computers or cell phones; how soothing the many images we took in are. I especially loved the sounds of the farm in the dark of night and early morning. There is nothing like going to sleep while the cicadas are singing along with other mysterious sounds (that neither this ol’ Brooklyn gal nor her ol’ Brooklyn guy could label) or waking up to the sound of a donkey honking at daybreak. I went for a long early morning walk on Monday: ‘greeted each of the animals; sang with the birds; took in the scent of honeysuckle in one area, freshly cut grass in another (stayed away from the cow manure!); I breathed the fresh fresh air, and prayed.
We returned home that afternoon tired, hot, and sweaty as we unpacked the car. It was tough to re-enter our routine here, where there aren’t acres and acres of cushioning from the realities of our wounded country; where many of our neighbors and friends are as upset about what’s happening as we are; where we watch the news, read newspapers, and connect to social media; where we are trying to stay motivated and learn more about how to be proactive members of our democracy. I don’t have to tell anyone reading this what a tough week it has been in our country, particularly given yesterday’s news from the Senate. But I do want to tell you that my resolve is to strive to bring the unique psychological and emotional grounding; the sacred nourishment of my time at the farm with me to the table. That’s my farm to table sharing for today. Thank you for taking the time to read it.