CHAPTER 2: Week 2: Farm Jive

By the end of the first week, many of the difficult physical adjustments are made: I’m starting to hum. I get insights into place: I live in squirrel town (come to find out). Morning & night there\’s this scratchin\’ scramblin\’ scurryin\’ – whoa – the rhythm of the squirrelly. We are just a hole in the hill, he\’s happenin\’ all around me, squirrel-motion mixed with the big, black-hooded jays (blue). I’m throwin\’ glances (gettin’ jumpy) when there’s just a rustle in the leaves!

We crack open a yellow watermelon to see how they are coming along. Munchin\’ on da grind-age! At lunch I walk down to my campsite – whoa – watermelon rinds on my doorstep! Who brought these here?? At first I thought it was a kind-of weird omen. Then I remembered that it was probably squirrelly. Ah ha ha! It\’s where I live. You so squirrelly! It explains why my very first basil bunch was critiqued, \”Little squirrelly. But nice!” Ha! Who knew I was under the squirrel influence the whole time! Make my bouquets on the extra squirrelly side – basil rose, sunflower. I appreciate that. Here\’s some Queen Anne\’s Lace. Yum.

Two squirrels are in a bar. One squirrel turns to the other and says, “I was so drunk last night, I f*#ked your mother.” The other squirrel turns to the first squirrel and says, “Dad! You’re drunk! It’s time to go home!” This happens to be the second question you get asked when you start working on the farm: do you know any jokes? And then they are exchanged. Do you know what to call cheese that isn\’t yours? NACHO CHEESE! (CHALLAH!)

There’s this pumpkin in the patch. This one special pumpkins. Yeah there\’s a lot of great pumpkins out there, but he – this one in particular pumpkin – is called Doctor Chubby. The name came up while we were all standing over the patch one day admiring the up and comers. PRO-duce! He was not just a Mister, no – DOCTOR Chubby is a name that inspires: crowning champ of the patch! Doc Chub & his relations are checked on most everyday: a couple here, some body there – grabbing an extra moment to peel back the foliage and eye him up. Good ol\’ Doc Chub! Pumpkin gets a lot of attention. Especially from Pat, who just so happens to be a pumpkin himself. Pat planted Doctor Chubby and all his relatives. He harvests the Chubbiest of the family to be crowned victors at the county fair. He’s got his eye on several for his birthday party in October too.

I think the whole thing is grand. You see, I’m a snap pea. I\’m snappy, I\’m quick, I\’m down. The first question when you work in the field is, “What kind of a vegetable are you?” Current crew hosts two pumpkins, iceberg, broccoli & brussell sprouts. Other vegetables visit, like last week we welcomed the spice of life, garlic to town! You just never know what kind of vegetable is gonna come down the way to hang out!

For now life is characterized by…
Cutting rosemary for dry,
Monotony bears down: one pops open.
By the black berries, a conversation begins…

I am bobbing in the sea, flowing in the rumble of waves! There is such fluidity to waking-dream life that it all goes effortlessly together in one rich (turbulent) flow. I work hard, feel strong & satisfied, eat A LOT of the freshest food on earth & sleep like a rock. Two naps a day! Great contentment. Great joy. Distractions are almost completely eliminated. I am very present. I share & amplify awareness – mirrors in the eyes of one an other. Libra breathes the bountiful beauty of Venus into shared space. Art has function and pancakes are in the oven! Life is good.

I frequently deja-dream. It is a moment that washes over me in waking life – so familiar. It’s as if you lived this moment once a long time before and it has just revisited you, with blessings, or it is a reminder that you are on your path because it seems so right to feel this sensation in the given situation. It never made sense in the dream, not until now, materialized before you, could you understand the perfection of the moment. Grace. Gratitude. It is a deep sensation of fruition & satisfaction. You are on the path! This is your personal omen. All is well.


In the fields I try to imagine how the fig trees
And basil leaves,
Busy themselves,
Through the night. They are
Constantly immersed,
In the grip of mother earth (ground down).
I want to be with them.

I am baptized by the Salmons cleansing currents:
Russell says this river is color of my eyes: Salmon River green.
Icy blue green translucence dancing over sandy stones.
In the slow swell of a deep channel,
I float free! What a satisfying act:
Bathing & floating with light glit-glit-glittering on the silvery surface.
Water rumbling by beneath…

Syncronicity surfacing…
The great sea god brings many strands,
For to weave.
First, be cleansed, be forgiven, be free!
The river’s melodic movement makes me see
It is IN MY HEART to make peace,
Let it float on, released! Welcome change.

In dream state: I levitate!
It is real enough in dreaming.
Enthusiasm propels me until I am floating on air!
The unbelievable becomes real.
I am lifted, lighter, especially in the morning, still groggy,
Laying hay on the hillside, putting the leeks to bed,
Free-floating in the sea of my own consciousness.

Every night on my way to bed I get side tracked by beauty of the sky.
There are so many stars here (this love has no ceiling).
The heavyweights are always out early.
They hold down the sky; define the time.
Mystique enraptures me.
Mystery has captured man since the start of all things.
As the full moon approaches, energy builds in our remote (stellar) community.

It is with the tides of the earth,
Although we do not always understand our (re)percussions.
Energy blossoms with the moon at its pinnacle;
A balance is struck. You find us hula hooping in joyful commune,
Hooting & hollerin’ in the light!
An animal instinct emerging from deep within?
Cycle wanes; the season’s change.
Happy & Humble on the Hillside

JOY BEAR

After toiling in the fields on any given day, the interns of the farm re-coop at our three-sided kitchen cabin on the hill. On this evening Leonna is cooking dinner while Russell and I are sitting around. He is a hefty gentleman who joins us, with curly grey hair & patchwork shorts, introduced as Lauren. We offer our new visitor a bite to eat, but he declines, instead preferring to pick his dinner in the orchard. As he goes off to gather food, Leonna informs us that Lauren is better known as Joy Bear (of the Rainbow Family). I laugh to myself: so far, Joy Bear’s scavenging is quite in character.


When Joy Bear returns, conversation quickly leads to the evening’s television programming: our ladies, 30 hens & Cluck Cluck the rooster. The box (coop) garnishes a lot of our attention (when we aren’t starring down the soil). Since it is nearing dark, Leonna suggests we start the nightly ritual of gathering all the ladies up and putting them to bed (in the coop). Joy Bear laughs heartily and insists that the hens will put themselves to bed before dark. He suggests we have an experiment to see if the ladies take care of themselves tonight. “The very worst that could happen is that we are chasing chickens around in the dark with our headlamps on,”Russ notes. I am optimistic (surprise). But Leonna is having none of it. She commences on our normal protocol as if there were no debate. Russ and I help in rounding them up (I think it is kind-of fun anyhow!)

Joy Bear follows us down the hill, already chuckling to himself about the show he is about to be treated to. No shortage of delight, Joy Bear stands by the pen, bracing himself on a post & booming the whole time! He bellows a great many jolly laughs at the crazy chicken chasing interns! I am impressed with his immense laughter. Whoa! Ha! Ha! Ha! While working the fields the next day, Joy Bear is a popular topic of conversation. Some scoff that he laughed right at us! How rude! How obnoxious! It is appropriate that we are so miffed, but I suspect a smile creeping across my face. I secretly relish Joy Bear’s irresistible jubilation. In the chicken coop, I had been laughing alongside him – on the inside, of course. And the very next night, after J. Bear departed, the ladies did indeed tuck themselves in.


*BEAR ATE MY SOAP!* STAY POSTED!!

MODERN MYTH & ANIMAL ALLIES

By speaking of the forces that dwell within us we bring them to life.

Caroline Casey, Making the Gods Work for You

So I’m down on the river bar in the afternoon taking a break from the farmer’s fields. I sit back on the sand looking over the river, relax and start to doze. I’m asleep for a bit, somewhere between dream state and only mildly awake, when, out of the blue, I feel this big wet sensation on my face: I’m being LICKED! I reflexively push away with my hand, sitting up & turning to see that I have rejected the advances of a cougar cub! The little one instinctively nips my hand in response to my abrupt rebuttal! I scramble up the hill, retrieve others and upon our return, we are graced with the sight of momma mountain lion leading her babe up the hill across the river. Thank goodness we didn’t have to meet her! I am full of gratitude for the mystical gift that youthful creature bestowed! For such an elusive entity, reaching out and touching a person like that must be a rare treat!


When I first came to the farm, Catherine and Russell took me down to the Salmon River for a dip. We all settled into the river bar, I took a quick skinny & was napping with my shade hat pulled down over the face (to protect from Cougar-Face) in an attempt to catch the last rays of warmth before the sun fell over the mountain ridge. All was quiet, until Catherine suddenly blared out, “BEAR.” I popped my hat up and was about to turn & look over my shoulder but there he was – black bear – sitting on the ridge right across the river from us. His nose was in the air. He stayed, sitting there by an evergreen for several minutes, sharing our company. I was charmed. What a magical greeting! Well, I thank you for the welcome! Before long black bear moseyed on, climbing the hill in his slow paced way. It was my first direct encounter with these animals, but I was left with the sense that their presence is deep – drenched – in peace.


Shady Brady (farm intern) was lucky in that he had the opportunity to co-habitate with our local black bear: his tent is pitched down by the river & nestled near a berry patch. Brady would start suddenly in the early morning hours, startled by something, which was then startled by him, taking a few steps with a gruff grunt. It was these steps which again startled Brady, but it seems that everyone stayed startled enough to keep moving on their own way! More often than not, the black bear presence is felt rather than encountered. It’s a brisk brush with a powerful but peaceful steward of this land.

One afternoon Shady enters our outdoor kitchen announcing bluntly, “Bear ate my soap.” I had to laugh! Ha! Ha! Ha! Bear ate my soap? Ha! “Tell me, dear Shady, just how did that happen?” I inquire jokingly. “Yeah, yeah,” he replies, “Everyone’s a skeptic, but seriously!”

It’s really quite simple. Draw your own conclusions. You are on the river bar. There are bear tracks on the beach approaching a cairn, which once marked the location of a bar of soap. And there are bear tracks down the beach, departing the scene. And yet, for some, this is not enough.

I ribbed Mr. Brady, “How do you know he ate it? That nice black bear may have just balanced it on his head & then hopped right into the river to lather up! I bet he\’s full of lavender scent right now and got a nice shiny coat to boot!” But Brady stuck with his story, “Just down the beach in the berry patch there was a little spittle on the ground. Bear spit-up.” Guess that bubbly block didn’t go down so well… But I wouldn’t speak too soon, because later that week I caught sight of black bear swimming over to our river bar. Back for more black bear? Since the “Bear ate my soap” incident, I suppose my imagination has run wild, at least, in dream states… Am I dreaming? I invited black bear into my sanctuary – literally welcoming him into my tent! My companion in the tent was skeptical that this was a good idea. Being wary of a big black bear in such close quarters is understandable – appropriate, even. But I was unyielding: I’m tryin’ a hang out with da bear! I’m down. I’m down! I encourage black bear again & again – come! Welcome! I unzip the tent for him. And he immediately blesses me with a wonderful greeting-hug-romp. We wrestled about playfully feeling each other out! Then, at the appropriate time, he exited and took his bear-pace over the hill and on his way. See? All is well.

CHAPTER 1: Farm Rap

The crew moves & acts (together):
One organism, distinct legs.
Leapfrogging about one another,
In a hive of activity,
Sometimes (chicken) chatter.
We scratch the ground with our bare hands.
We dig into it – working, massaging the soil.
We worship the ground.
On the farm
We are
On the farm
(Time slows down. Dirt is constant.)

I think up a lot of stuff 2 do while in the field.
I’ve become quiet (introverted: focused inward)
…almost somber.
But it helps me continue to clear, clarify & cleanse.
I AM> focusing my energy.
& yet releasing grip…
(go with the flow, you know?)
Simply be.

Yet the child – my child, mind child seeks distraction.
But I set that little girl down here in the dirt.
On the Farm
We are
On Farm Head Space
Here for our vegetables.
“Here. Now,” I tell her,
With an implied,
“You ain’t goin’ nowhere ’til you’re finished.”
At first difficulty the child screams (tantrum)!
But thyme grows on us (silence prevails; discomfort passes).
Somethings always new or changing.
Somethings always the same.
Cluck Cluck is learning to Cock-a-doodle – a garbled call
(The lotus unfolds) the kid is quiet.

Come evening,
My mind breaks along with the body,
Too exhausted & scattered to go pecking around @ misc. tasks.
I just surrender (to what is).
Sleeping (deep) because I work (so very hard) to serve.
The thoughts still bob in my brain (seeds of worry?)
Coming & going (more freely).
Release them; Do Not Water!
They clutter the nature of what is!
In stopping resistance, you embrace being.
So that abundance enfolds you in its loving arms!
On the path, you are.
Been a week – two – three –
Four since I came (Like Whoa, And How!?)
Slow go – or so go(-ne)?
I thought
When was it (timely)?
I (appropriate) am here.
My body continues
An evolution of blisters & scratches, itching & callousing,
Taking care – my vessel knows. I let it,
Because last night Venus held the sky (Milky Way her backdrop).
It was deep – sublime!
Each one, I thought – though I knew it not by a name –
held its place in the heavens (it belonged).
Something familiar there.

I’m drinkin’ cold mate: cream & honey.
I am so nourished (Thank You bacon),
Body working hard,
Learnin’ the satisfaction of a rigorous days work in the earth (worship).
I rake the land with my hands.
I feel real (grounded).
There is dirt under my fingernails.
It is worked into the creases of my skin.
Tasks are beautiful in their simplicity (a moving meditation):
Hand-weeding, stirrup-hoeing, laying hay (all rhythmic routine).
No need for perfection, (basically) its all squiggly lines!
We make organic, squirrelly bunches – yum!
[I am inspired!]
As my body finds rhythm – it hums!
Sometimes I don’t even think!
Sustaining.
Vision: emerges (well being).
I am the tiniest ant, but also infinite!
Evident, giving (we harvest), sharing the labor to create a
Sanctuary of Spirit (TRANSPARENCE).

CEREMONY: Happy Camp

Matake Oyasin is a Lakota expression that means, “For all my Relations.” This includes the sun, moon & stars – all things! I am reading a book by Caroline Casey where she expresses this idea that, “we want to become completely involved in the responsibility of shaping reality for the greater good of all our relations.” This includes all that we do: in public and in private! She quotes an old Sufi story to remind us that “…if it weren’t for the hidden work of those who pray, imagine, dream & act compassionately when the opportunity presents itself, things would be much worse [than they are].” It is important to remember that we are active participants in community.

Ceremony plays an important role in unifying a community. Ceremony, as defined by Casey, is a group ritual demonstrating the will of the people. It is a form of theater that helps us visualize and experience what we want to make reality; it is a token rite grounding our intention in a physical act. A theatrical element is part of the ritual that helps our experience become reality. And so it is.

Without knowing it, I found myself in ceremony at the Un-Dam the Klamath Music & Arts Festival. This took place on my first weekend on the farm, up in the mountains at a town called Happy Camp! I was with new peers (we call ourselves interns). Zack (better known as Shady Brady), the physics teacher from Illinois split an Indian taco with me. Russell immediately jumped in to help paint salmon on a huge wood panel down the hill.

At first the audience was pretty sparse. There was, of course, one woman who sat on the lawn all day: an avid audience member. She was a mystic type who didn’t care what anyone thought and contentedly danced her own dance. She was vocal too and responded to the performances candidly, for all of us really. We became acquainted as fellow audience members witnessing the afternoon together; we were in fellowship.

The playground had an excellent springy whale, which flung me willy-nilly for quite some time… until someone pulled me onto the dance floor. We jived around, enjoying the music and ourselves. The mystic lady moved about all wrangly, doing her thing beside me. Then, leaning in to address my partner, she demanded, “Take your shoes off! Feel the EARTH under your feet!” while stomping her foot several times! She repeated this command, always with the stomping! The girl refused, insisting, “I do what I want! You can’t tell me what to do!” My shoes were off! I just laughed! Mystic lady turned to me and said, “You don’t need that! Find someone who will take their shoes off and feel the EARTH under their feet! You have got to feel the EARTH under your feet!”

Another attraction was chopper bikes! They had one really super small wheel attached to extremely long forks, making it most difficult to mount and ride, especially on the grassy terrain. I watched people ride them down the hill and nabbed the first one that became available when one of the kids lost interest. After several attempts on the back lawn I got the thing rolling and took off around the grounds, becoming a participant in the current of energy!

The goal that brought everyone together on that weekend was re-allocating resources to benefit all by letting the river flow freely. This would especially benefit the salmon, whose ecosystem was disrupted by dams. There was a strong Karuk Indian presence at the gathering because the Klamath River is the lifeblood of their native land. The native people bring an important perspective focused on creating a sustainable balance. Their influence was evident in the arts, traditional music and tacos.

After several musical acts, a Karuk man stood up on stage and spoke from his heart about the matters facing us all, but specifically the local community and their fight to bring down the Iron Gate Dam. He asserted that our will, be reality! His genuine enthusiasm was a crucial part of the transformative magic. He invited us to take part – every man – for it is all our land! He spoke for our posterity! It was certainly a moving speech and I was touched to see someone breaching cultural boundaries for a common purpose. All one. Come together. I felt a shift in the energy after he spoke and as the night rolled in: feelings of comfort and unity.

The music continued with a woman playing songs about rivers. The audience increased, as did their energy level! More relaxed and playful in my fig leaf skirt, I went over and sat beside Russ. He made me nervous; I had a lot of affection for him even then. I sensed that we had a similar understanding of what the day’s events meant on an energetic level, whereas others didn’t notice these subtleties. This is part of the intuitive connection that seems like it was already well formed when we met. Mystic lady was around again. We were dancing around and she turned to Russ, “Take off your shoes! Feel the EARTH under your feet!” Simple: he complied. She was elated. She turned and told me, “This one is a keeper!”

Finally, we were presented with the most striking shared visualization of the event. A symbolic school of salmon swam up in front of the stage. These were children in costume, dancing around with fish on their heads. There was one huge mother fish that was made up of about twelve kids. It was similar in style to a parade with Chinese dragons. The whole dance was narrated by a local gentleman playing the guitar on stage. His song told a story of the salmon wanting to be set free! The presentation grabbed everyone’s attention and the energy skyrocketed! The school of fish gathered their momentum swimming up and down the lawn, until they finally rammed a big PVC-framed wall of fabric that read “Iron Gate Dam!” They pushed against it repeatedly until the whole thing came crashing down! Everyone cheered them on the whole way! The audience served an important purpose by reflecting enthusiasm. We were important participants in this ceremonial dance! Woo-hoo!