October 2008 Archives

At the End of the Rainbow


obelisk norway.jpg
Vigeland Obelisk, Norway. Sculptor Gustav Vigeland. "Meant to represent man’s desire to become closer with the spiritual and divine. It portrays a feeling of togetherness as the human figures embrace one another as they are carried toward salvation."

The school bus arrives now before the sun is up— so I spend the first part of my run in the early steel grey dawn. When I got to the pond/slough down the road I stopped—not just paused, but stopped. The first thin skim of ice floated on the still water a few feet from shore. As I stood there a half-dozen muskrats jumped into the pond from right at my feet- maybe 3 feet away. Some of them did big belly flops- making a loud splash.

The sun was still below the horizon, but the sunrise was 360 degrees around me N-S-E-W. As I stood there the ice turned bright pink- right where I was standing. I felt, for the first time in my life, that I was at the end of the rainbow. Then one of those muskrats popped his nose up through the thin ice. Over my shoulder, in the squat, dark, dense little forest (it is very ominous looking and I suspected last year that a big cat- like a cougar- lived there) I saw a huge bird land in the tree about 30 feet from me. I thought to myself- I think that’s an owl. Who-who-whooooo comes from the tree.

I’m taking a new way home now- going cross county across the prairie. Some hunters ran their trucks over the fence to save walking a few feet to the slough. I try not to get crabby about those lazy asses and imagine instead that the tire tracks are some ancient trail. And who knows—maybe they are. At any rate- they make the walk easier through the waist/chest high grass. As I look to the north I see a shining neon pink obelisk some miles away. This tall sliver of light pokes up from the prairie and reflects the rising sun looking even more brilliant even than the sun itself. It’s some kind of monument, maybe to farming, or progress, or a failed past, or an uncertain yet hopeful future.



farm pix- october 2008.jpg

One thing about living on the farm is that the kids work harder. Alma helped a lot iwth the garden and farmers market. Here's a picture of the boys on their way to clean out the chicken coop with their Dad.

I remember taking a Global Food Supply course as a graduate student. I learned that in parts of the world, children start making an agricultural contribution at age 5 and that at age 7 some kids are doing enough agricultural work to supply their food needs for the year. How can that be?

Mike said when be brought them back in:
~They were more help this year than last!~

I'm thinking-- they were only 3 years old last year. Amazing that at 4 years old they actually help lighten the load a bit.

Last summer menu....


last summer menu.JPG

With the exception of beets, carrots and 1,000 feet of turnips (what do I do with 2 tons of turnips??)-- the garden is done for 2008. I just couldn't bring myself to erase the Last Summer Menu-- what with remembering eating the garden fresh sweet corn, basil pesto, stuffed peppers, and eggplant ratioullie...

Last night I took out the first frozen broccoli and added it to tuna noodle hotdish.
I think that about sums up the end of summer food.

Something Stinks


bankers leaving treasury meeting 10-13.jpg
Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack- leaving the meeting with US Treasury Secretary Paulson after learning he is forced to accept $250,000,000,000 from US Taxpayers. KJD notes: Does this man look repentant, sorry, chagrined?

"That's a jig saw Mommy" my son Lake informs me as Mike cuts out the back of the kitchen wall to extricate a rotting mouse that was making us all gag. The kitchen had been smelling increasingly putrid over the past couple of days. Relief was immediate when Mike took out the mouse, uncharacteristically groaning with displeasure and telling the boys to run because they wouldn't want to see this!

That's not all. My mom was helping me clean out my pantry-- filled to the brim with scores of squash, couple hundred pounds of potatoes, dried beans, garlic, and canned goods. I grabbed a bag of potatoes and the bottom fell out in a soggy mess of rotted potatoes-- the smell rivaled the dead mouse. But I had to clean this one up.

I had a dream yesterday. In my dream I was sitting on a park bench with a colleague from the Bush Foundation. A baby carriage was beside us. Distraught, I told her "I spent 3 years working on the farm bill. It was $6 billion dollars. Now they passed $700 billion in 10 days." I started to cry. "I wasted three years of my life."
In real life I didn't work on the Farm Bill. Maybe I was channeling my Representative, Collin Peterson, who is the chair of the House Agricultural Committee. The fact remains, that the Farm Bill was $6 Billion and it DID take more than 3 years to negotiate. The Farm Bill includes Food Stamps, farm subsidies, agricultural research, biofuels, land conservation, and more.

The gentlemen above "reluctantly" accepted $250 billion of your dollars. Paulson et al. decided upon and spent that money in one weekend.

Something Stinks.

A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste


October 4 cover of The Economist

I'm not alone with my inner apocolypt anymore-- I have company. One of my respected elders told me today that she felt the economic collapse was imprinting the same trauma in her mind as President Kennedy's assisination.

For me, I keep seeing the scene from Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings where Stryder (Aragorn) drags Frodo up the stairs of the Prancing Pony and tosses him on the floor in front of the fireplace.

"Are you scared?" Stryder demands
"Yes" says Frodo
"Not nearly enough-- I know what hunts you."

I want to say bluntly.... This is where my dream meets my nightmare. Most of my life I dreamed of farming. But our move to the farm last year was also part of my survival plan for when the collapse came. Hope for the best- prepare for the worst.

So you can see how I am both living out my dream and my nightmare at the same time. Dream and nightmare look the same-- food self sufficiency, a close and supportive community, energy independence. Living the dream is self actualization, living the nightmare is survival.

This is no time to panic.

I find that the advantage of always being alert for signs of the collapse makes me calmer when times get rough. I've rehearsed this in mind, studied it even. Now is the time to think clearly. We need to get to work on the basics and fundamentals. By that I mean real work, real products, new paradigms.

This is the time to rethink how we are living and what we need to sustain our society and resources we depend upon. In that sense:

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

Orion Reposing


orion the hunter.jpg
Orion- the hunter

When I wake up maddeningly early and look out my dining room window I can see Orion-- at rest. Usually you see Orion upright-- his belt and blade at his waist and feet beneath him. In the middle of the night, however, Orion rests on the tops of trees lining the east side of our property. He lies there on his side-- relaxing on his elbow-- not hunting for the time being. I've a kind of repoir with this early morning constellation-- "you just rest there-- I'll get the coffee going."

I woke up in St. Paul this morning and walked out into the "darkeness" of the City. I looked straight up and was surprised to see my early morning companion Orion above my head. Upright and at work already-- another day another Horsehead Nebula. I didn't know or remember that I could see Orion in the City.

A bit later in my St. Paul campus office I reached into my jeans pocket and was surprised to find a handful of soybeans.

What I want to say is how this split life brings a reality to both. I can now see the stars in the City because I have come to know them, personally, at home on the prairie. I can now work in the Agronomy Deptartment with soybeans from my own field in my pocket. In some ways it is all the more richer because of the contrast.

But man I'm missing my kids.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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