Sometimes it takes a friend coming over for a visit for me to step out of my routine. The barn and the garden are full of to do lists and I ricochet between them for three full seasons until the garden quiets and the barn gets my full attention.
“Let’s go for a hike at your place.” she said. A hike? We have trails that have been a bit neglected. A tree is down across the main access to the forest. The small chainsaw I bought in secret and am shy to use by myself is no match for its size or number of branches. We limboed beneath part of it and over others.
The first part of the path from my house and past the bee hives is gentle. You can walk and talk without taking a moment to care where you place your feet. But after the fallen tree jungle gym, the trail is more rugged. At first uphill in a ferny promenade. You pant even if you are in shape.
And then you emerge on to what was once an airstrip. Looking at it now it’s hard to believe. Even at its widest you can barely imagine landing a paper airplane here. But the WWII pilot had his dreams too, when he built it, shaped it at the top of the mountain. It is now grown over with Poplars and Beech trees, pines that could be a version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree if they tried a little harder. It’s a straight trail ending at a stone wall you can barely see.
From there a hairpin turn through tall reeds down a hill where all the unevenness is obscured by green. Clumps and groves and stands of trees and shrubs — some of them wild raspberries and blueberries — assert themselves here. And when you choose a turn between them you abandon this wannabe forest for a meadow.
From the house, you can see this meadow, the small herds of white-tailed deer crisscrossing. Sometimes a Black Bear parks itself here too. But what is completely invisible from the house and even from 20 paces are the tiny intertwined wildflowers. With wheat-like tasseled cousins, they blow in the wind bending effortlessly. Dancing. Common buttercups shine upward toward your chin, leggy dandelions tower over their basic yard siblings, and more. Orange fire-spark thready flowers. Thistly lavender colored faces. Deep purple paintbrushes. And daisies. Singles and crowds.
The only way to know these flowers is to leave the barn behind. To be in the middle of them, bending in the wind as best you can. Photographs fail to report them properly, much like a full moon. It is only truly magical when you spend time with them together basking in their rays.
A note about this Substack, in case you are wondering why it’s here and how whatever it is I am doing fits (loosely) together:
Some people, like you, prefer to read stories about the Accidental Farm. This is where they will be for now. They used to be on a blog on my website, but meh. I have also shared them on Instagram. But now, also meh. I am moving them here. Just words.
I will continue to share photos and videos on Instagram from time to time if you need pictures to go with your words.
I also share stories on two podcasts:
The Accidental Farm Podcast is 5-minutes a day when it’s in season. The first season has 100 episodes. You will hear about Carl there and other furry and feathered characters too. Another season is coming, soon.
The Talk Farm to Me podcast is a longer, interview-based podcast where I share stories from serious farmers about their work and their lives with insights you can’t glean from chatting with them at the farmer’s market.
With all of these stories, I invite you to be “for farmers” in your daily actions, your hearts and am working toward building a community of US to show how we are for THEM in a way that makes them feel seen, heard and appreciated. More on this soon.
And a confession. I have a manifesto. It might tie all this together for you, or for me. For now it does. xo