The only thing that can inspire me to try harder more than someone saying “you can’t do it”, is someone saying “I believe in you”. It is with that motivation to not disappoint that I started almost immediately breaking the promises I made to the land.
My plan was to plant a pumpkin patch and a maze. The maze consisting of sweet corn, popcorn, broom corn, holly hocks and sunflowers. Going into this I felt a little guilty about the corn, but popcorn is my thing and the sweet corn makes econimic sense to offer grilled, broom makes a great fall display… and as tired as this field was I need to make some money to keep going, I promise I’ll do it in a nice way… I won’t rototill, instead I’ll take down the vegatation, supress regrowth with mulch and drill the seeds in by hand and I’ll keep the tractor off of the field as much as possible. Even the farmer I argued with earlier in the year about his overplanting corn called me on it, he caught me being a hypocrite. First promise broken. It gets worse, I get worse. Way worse. But don’t worry, I don’t get away with it.
While I was drawing up my corn-heavy plan, mother nature was dumping rain, it seemed as though it was never going to stop. Another not so patient week of waiting for things to dry up and now I’m really late getting started. As soon as I could I got out there and tried to make up time by working really long hours. All around me my neighbors were doing the same, everyone is working really hard to catch up from the rain. The big difference is I was determined to do this by hand, long after the farmers around me had everything planted, I was still digging.
Once the pumpkins were finally in I was so hopelessly behind schedule that I pulled out the tractor to mow. That’s not so bad, and wow deisel power was really catching me up. That goes so well in fact that I decide to rototill with the tractor the entire maze bed for the sake of time. Second promise broken, but I’m so far behind what can I do?
Maybe we were already fighting and I hadn’t noticed yet, there was all that rain afterall, but this is when things really got ugly between me and our mother. I had promised to be her partner, listen to her and not fight with her. Give her what she needs and she will give me what I need. Keep things fair and honorable, mutually. She said she was sick and I went to work with the best of intentions.
On the last pass with the mower the front tire came off, ripping up the rim. Extensive damage, time consuming fix. No rototilling. Tractor is sidelined for about five weeks. Not to be deterred, longer days and back to hand work I forge on. I couldn’t help but think mowing ok, tilling apparently not. It is a strange problem, the wheel falling off… very odd.
In planting the maze, each type of plant requires a different amount of time to mature, the first to be planted was the popcorn, followed by the sweet corn, then broom corn, then holly hocks and finally the sunflowers which are pretty quick to mature. I had designed this really cool picture depicting the rolling hills of Washington County with a sun rising between, this would all be harvested and sold as finished product (kettle corn and grilled sweet corn), with the sunflowers and holly hocks to be left standing for the fall and winter birds.
There is always some loss in growing, some seed won’t sprout, some seed will be eaten by birds and some plants will be nibbled by animals, a 20 percent loss on the high side is expected, the pumpkins fell within this amount. The corn was another story. After planting, the birds ate all of it. Not all as an exaggeration, I mean all of it. I put out noisy wind catchers and spinning wheels for movement and planted again, they ate all of it again. I put up a scare crow and planted again, and once again they ate it all. The only thing that would stop them from eating my seed is me not leaving the field while the birds were awake, so I tried that too, almost to my demise. This is when I started being vague about what I was doing out there when questioned. I didn’t know what to say anymore, this was a little surreal. I had never seen this kind of loss, the pumpkins were in the same field and didn’t suffer the same fate. I tried and tried until it was too late for corn to mature. After weeks of trying I had made no headway. The only thing I still had time to plant was sunflowers for the birds in the fall and winter. Ironic? I thought so. On this, Mother and some decoy hawks gave me a break.
I realized I had broken nearly every promise I made, even if with the best of intentions, and I had got exactly what I had deserved. After weeks of fighting with mother, by now at least third broken promise, I finally asked her what she wanted. Do you want me to quit? Do you want someone else here instead? Are you trying to teach me to try harder, be more determined? or are you trying to teach me to have the sense to walk away? What do you want me to do? I have found that if I ask the universe a question and then meditate in nature with a mind opening task, the answer comes. And it did. My task was planting the sun for her birds. For days on end I meditated on the question of “what do you want me to do?” I patiently and quietly mulled it over and listened to what was within my heart. Part three is that answer.