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The 2017 Luscious Farm Calendar Has Arrived!

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And this year it is better than ever! 12 months of beautiful local nevada county farmers, their equally beautiful vegetables and flowers, and a whole lot of tasteful nudity. I am proud to say this year’s calendar is not only beautiful in format and photo, but is also printed locally and on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Recycled, local and naked – now that’s a calendar to feel good about!

Photography, layout, and design by Maisie Ganz, with huge thanks for the willingness and creativity of our Nevada County farmers-turned-models, Josh Horniak for support with some of the more difficult editing and layout, Brenna Lanton for her assistance on two of the photo shoots, and Jared at Grass Valley Printers for the professional printing and easeful communication. After a year of photo shoots at dusk and dawn, lots laughter and learning, it is my honor and pleasure to represent our community’s incredibly wonderful (and conveniently sexy) farmers in the asthetically pleasing and ancient form of the calendar.

Even with the local printing, the new modern 11×17 format, and the 100% recycled paper – this year’s calendar will be priced the same as last year’s – only $20 per calendar, and for those buying 3 or more, only $15 each! So if you want one, and want to get one for a friend, you might as well get a third for your grandma, cause it works out to being only $5 for the third. To order please send an email to me at soilsistersfarm@gmail.com with how many you’d like to pre-order (I will be printing the first round this week – Let me know asap, though there will be opportunity for future orders). I will set up a convenient pick up and payment exchange downtown in the coming weeks. For those of you out of town, please include your mailing address in your email and if you would like your calendar(s) to be shipped to you (I will have to add shipping, sorry!). Makes an excellent gift for the holidays and the new year!


(A sneak peak into some of the months….)

yum

Spread the farmer love and buy one for your home and for the food/farm lover in your life!

Love,
Maisie

 

A Special Soil Sisters Flower CSA Donation

 

Willow and Maisie - Your Happy Flower Farmers!

Willow and Maisie – Your Happy Flower Farmers!

Do you know of someone who’s in need of a little Soil Sisters flower love? A friend who has had a rough year? A family member who needs a little extra love? Someone in our community who loves flowers but doesn’t have the funds this year to have them around? Well maybe a bouquet of flowers every week for twelve weeks this summer would cheer them up!

An anonymous donor has offered to purchase a CSA share for someone this 2016 season who is in need. Please respond below with your nominations. Keep in mind that your nominee needs to live in or near Nevada City/Grass Valley and be available on Tuesday evenings to pick up their CSA share. If your nominee can not, then we ask that you commit to picking it up and delivering it yourself. If you prefer your nomination/nominee to be anonymous, please email us at soilsistersfarm@gmail.com with the subject line: Flower CSA Scholarship. Please subscribe to our blog, where we will be announcing the winner Monday, May 2nd, or visit our site on that date. If a prefered anonymous nominee is chosen we will keep said-winner anonymous but at least let everyone know that we have found our recepient!

And if you can’t wait a month, consider signing someone you love up for our CSA anyways! We still have spots left and they are going fast. We offer payment plans, email us if you’d like to discuss options. The CSA runs end of June/beginning of July thru September – 12 weeks at $12/week. We harvest and arrange our CSA bouquets the same day as our pick up – always conveniently located in downtown Nevada City (exact location to be announced).

Thank you and Happy Spring!

Twelve of these!

Twelve of these!

 

I Swear, I Don’t Have a Crush on All of You

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I blush. A lot. It can strike at any time, anywhere. I blush when i have to speak in front of more than four people. I blush when someone asks me a question and I have to answer them in front of someone else who happens to be eaves-dropping. Even if its freezing out, and I forgot my coat, and I have no hat, I still will feel that familiar flush of heat rise up through my cheeks, feel my arm-pits begin to sweat. It happens when I run into a cute boy, who I had a crush on briefly five years ago, and we’re talking about the weather. It doesn’t matter that i’m not interested in him, and it doesn’t matter that i don’t want him to have the impression that I’m interested. I blush anyways. I blush even at times when I’m on the phone, being interviewed by someone who CAN NOT EVEN SEE ME. I even blush, apparently, at the dentists, reclined on that chair, under that un-godly light, with Dr. Whosywhats forcefully flossing my teeth, as he tells me I have sensitive gums.

It happens when I feel embarrassed, about anything. It also happens when I don’t feel even the slightest bit embarrassed. Which then, undoubtedly, makes me feel embarrassed. I blushed today in fact, in the grocery store, when I ran into a guy who once helped me work on my plumbing in my trailer (I’m talking about my actual plumbing in my literal trailer – relax). We talked as we waited to check-out our groceries. I then realized, when I stepped outside into the brisk afternoon air, I was blushing. And so that we are perfectly clear, I do not, and never have, had a crush on my ex-plumber.

This last summer I was at a dinner with some neighbors and friends. The topic of blushing came up, as one of my friends it turns out, also has a lifetime of blushing experience. She described the years of anguish she experienced through her teens and early twenties. How she used to avoid large groups, speaking in front of people, talking to attractive men. It was only when she became older, and when traveling abroad she came across a series of lovers who considered her blushing not just acceptable, but downright cute, did she begin to accept this part of herself and relax around her body’s untimely demonstrations.

Listening to her struggles made me realize that at some point, long ago, I stopped realizing that I shared her affliction. Even a few minutes of her speaking passed by without me even making the connection between our almost identical symptoms. Because while there was a time that my blushing limited just how many times I was willing to raise my hand in class, that era has long ago passed. Its not that nowadays I’m completely unaware of what’s happening – that a blush is forming – its just that I’m able to hold that awareness more lightly, more of the time. It like in meditation – I don’t ignore the thought, but merely recognize it is there, like a bubble floating above my head, and then i blow it gently away. It works most of the time, and I’m able to proceed forward in whatever it is I am trying to do, instead of crawling into a cold, dark hole (which is what I would prefer to do, were one available).

I was thinking about this whole phenomenon recently while reading the book, “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert (For the record, I do actually have a crush on Elizabeth Gilbert).  She tells a short story towards the end of the book, a true story recounted to her by a guy at a party, about his little brother’s trip to France to live as an artist for a year. Long story short, this American kid in France meets some cool bohemians one day who take a shining to him and invite him to the party of the year, letting him know that its most definitely a costume party, and also that all the biggest muckety-mucks in Europe were going to be there. So he works the rest of the week on this elaborate and amazing costume, rents a car and drives three hours to this beautiful castle outside Paris, changes in the car, walks up to the door, gets let in by the butler, and enters the great hall. That’s when he freezes. Everyone is indeed in costume, except he quickly realizes that there was a theme which was lost in translation. The theme was “a medieval court,” and so all these famous people are waltzing around wearing period-gowns and heavy brocade vests and glittering jewels and all the finest that renaissance royalty would have worn.

And this American kid is dressed as a lobster.

A full-on, head-to-toe lobster, complete with red spandex and red foam claws. So he has two choices: run or go with it. He chooses the later, because he spent so much energy and creativity on his costume, and he drove this far, and he’s learned from being an artist and continually putting himself out there, that he has little to lose. And he’s right. He sets off across the dance floor. The music stops and everyone stops their conversations and stares, until someone asks him what he is. He bows and says, “I am the court lobster.” Everyone laughs, everyone loves him, and he spends the evening dancing with royalty.

I love this story. I love it because this kid puts himself, and his costume creation, out into the world even when he knows that it may not fit-in and it may not be well-received. He could have easily been criticized, ridiculed, or shamed, and he knew this. You could say that he had no choice at that point, but he did. He could have never accepted the invitation, never created such an elaborate costume, and never even driven out there. And this is kind of how I feel every day. I imagine it is how many of us feel. When I publish something that I’ve written, or stand up in front of a group to speak, or even when I just leave the house and go to the grocery store – I often feel like a lobster. And when I blush, which I do in all of those situations, I actually look like one too.

What i realize about us blushers, is that our vulnerability is more visible than it is for most. We don’t have the luxury of putting ourselves or our work out into the world without looking like lobsters. And so we have learned to go with it. We have learned to stand up at our friend’s wedding and give a toast, dressed as a lobster. We have learned to make conversation in line for the bank, dressed as a lobster. We give farm tours, chat with neighbors, approach shops to sell our photographs, magazines to print our words – all while dressed as a lobster.

But as i get older – spending more and more of my days among farmers, flowers, and bees; and where how you handle a digging fork matters more than your chosen costume – its a vulnerability I’ve come to value. I am glad that I was put on this earth as someone who has a much harder time hiding her feelings. What once felt uncomfortable and unfair has morphed into feeling gratitude for the increased connection and intimacy my blushing affords. I have found that being vulnerable, and the practice I’ve had at it from my blushing, gives me a deeper access not only into my own life, but also into the lives of others. Being vulnerable, whether I intend to or not, is permission for others to be vulnerable as well. I feel as if I was forced, and am now choosing, to living more fully and with less caution. I can spend less time doing the complicated and impossible dance of trying to seem cool, calm, and composed in front of others – and spend more time being creative, adventurous, dorky, and brave. I can go for it, like the kid in the lobster costume. Besides a little discomfort, a slight fear of judgement, there really is no down-side to vulnerability. Life is more fun, more connected, more expansive, and definitely more exhilarating.

Maisie Ganz

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Are you a blusher too? Please share in a comment below!

Relax, Its Winter

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morning

a couple weeks ago i was on the phone with AT&T. this was the fifth phone-call i’d made to them in a span of only a few days. i will restrain myself from discussing my opinion of their services, since it is they who monopolize the internet connection for our county (oh, did i say monopolize? i meant provide), and most of you would not be able to read this were it not for their supremely iron-fisted rule. excuse me, superb internet wi-fi reliability.

my operator of the day was named david. he was in st. louis, missouri. i always ask where they are from, it helps me to consider them as human and thus helps to suppress my killing instincts as the call goes on, and on, and no end is in sight and they can’t help but charge me obscene amounts of money and they continue to sound like a robot. so i tell david of my troubles and he says, “don’t worry miss ganz, i am ready to take ownership of this issue.” he said this, like, three times. it must be in bold font at the top of his script or something, a sentence (the only sentence) he was given permission to use by his superiors to respond to just about any complaint given by a customer. and the funny thing was, i actually did feel soothed by this framing of the situation, this wording. ah, i thought, he’s taking ownership, finally i can relax.

ownership. flipped around to become the personal and the affirmative that word has a power to it. lately i’ve been wanting to write again. the farm season is drawing to a close, my time is freeing up, and the forecast calls for many rainy days of potential uninterrupted indoor writing. but i’ve been sluggish to begin. i keep finding excuses not to write, and reasons why it doesn’t make sense to even try. i feel fear – of failure, of judgement. i feel resignation – that its all been said before. i feel that there must be more important things to do, less frivolous then this thing called “writing.” but what if, as david of missouri so strangely and eloquently declared, i took ownership of my writing?

this, of course, is easier said then done. it takes some exploration on my part, to understand why i don’t write even though it is so enjoyable for me, so satisfying, and so deeply life-affirming. i am beginning to see that one reason it is hard for me to write is because writing does not have a measurable output. i spend the majority of my year doing. we wake up at dawn and i feel a deep sense of purpose – to don my work clothes in the early morning light and go outside to tend to our fields. we plant seeds, pull weeds, write emails, harvest flowers, dig beds, till in salad mix, arrange flowers for weddings, sell our wares at the farmer’s market and go to bed at night tired and fulfilled. i think i actually feel most relaxed when i know that i have been productive, that no time has been wasted that day or that week. so when it comes time to slow down and relax, embarrassingly enough, i struggle to do it. i can see that somehow i have confused my level of worth with the level at which i perform. i feel validated when i am busy. and at the base of it, if i wriggle way down into the depths of my self-created conundrum, i see that i’ve over-simplified the equation: (being productive + being busy) x being helpful to others = being loved.

which is where the idea of ownership comes in. no one else knows i’m working under the governance of such a messed-up equation; only i can recognize when that is my story, and only i can re-write it. which means i’m going to have to take some serious ownership of my writing. to me this means letting myself feel the obligations set into motion by my soul, not just the often louder and more insistent obligations of my farm business or household. otherwise the chores inevitably win out. vacuuming the house because it really is filthy right now will always win over taking time to write. so will ordering seeds, fixing the car, shopping for groceries, updating our farm’s website, making holiday presents…the list continuously mounts and evolves seasonally, drawing me away from, as stendhal once said, “the thing which gives [me] more pleasure than any other conceivable action.” well, he actually said, MAN is not free to refuse to do the thing which gives him more pleasure than any other conceivable action, but we’ll just ignore the man part for the moment and assume deep down stendhal supported women in pursuing their passions too.

so from now on i will aim to wake up in the morning and say, “don’t worry miss ganz, i am ready to take ownership of your writing.” i am ready to write freely and rollickingly (thank you brenda ueland). i’m ready to tap out some pages on the computer that may be crap or may be brilliant but at least there will be some tapping. i’m ready to forget the chores for the moment, turn off the internet, sit by the fire and write.

love, maisie

julius knows how to relax

julius: expert relaxer

Local Farmers Bare All

It has been many years of dreaming. Many years of asking fellow farmers to strip on sultry summer afternoons, hoping that the light was right, the veggies weren’t shy, and my photography skills were up to the task. And now it is here, the 2016 Soil Sisters Farm Luscious Calendar. Photographed by Maisie Ganz with the help and sexy bod of many a friend.

hot.

hot.

I have printed a few copies in order to make the final tweaks before printing en masse. And I am writing this post to ask you, my dear readers, to pre-order your 2016 calendar. I will be printing at the end of this month once I have heard back from those so inspired to have our gorgeous and tastefully seductive creation on their walls this coming year. And if you are wondering just what locally-made, farm-themed gift to give your relatives, friends, and lover(s) – then this is your lucky day. Printed on professional cardstock with vibrant inks and a simple layout, these puppies cost a pretty penny to print and ship – hence the need to pre-order so I don’t break the bank. My bank that is. Calendars are only $20 per or $15 if you buy 3 or more. Local pick-up will be available at the Nevada City Farmer’s Market and shipping an option for those out-of-towners ($5 added for shipping per order).
Email me at soilsistersfarm@gmail.com with the Title: Luscious Farm Calendar to order. Please write how many you’d like and if you are local or out-of-town (leave address if out-of-town).

And I don’t want to give it all away, but here’s a glimpse into this year’s Luscious calendar….Order Today!

oh yeah.

oh yeah.

hubba hubba.

hubba hubba.

ooh la la.

ooh la la.

 

the two-headed fire-breathing farmer

ah!

willow and i are, for the most part, rational, calm people. we know how to take responsibility, to communicate clearly and peacefully, and to negotiate well with others. but once in a while someone comes along that really gets under both of our skins. i am sorry to say that this is happening now. not just one someone, but a bunch of someones. it’s a terrible thing, these uninvited guests that show up each spring, not paying a lick of rent, just lolly-gaging about the farm. purslane. amaranth. bindweed. bremuda grass. thistle. sorrel. that one branching thing with spiky balls. we plant our tiny seeds, or transplant our tender seedlings from the greenhouse, and around the base of the plant, these weeds flourish. they grow twice as fast as our cut flowers and lettuce greens. they return within days of hoeing and hand-weeding. and in the case of purslane, they literally COME BACK FROM THE DEAD, more profuse and more vigorous than ever before.

i am not sure what percentage of the time we spend any given season weeding, but its a lot. which leads us to our latest discovery – landscape fabric. i’ve never previously been a fan, assuming that most options are sickeningly short-lived. here at soil sisters we are almost laughably dedicated to not throwing things away. we’ve been using some of the same drip-tape to irrigate for the last 6 years. we duct tape our harvest bins just to get another few deliveries in before we let them go. we can’t even compost extra flower starts, potting even the puniest ones up into 6-packs to save as back-up or to give to friends. so the idea of buying rolls upon rolls of plastic that will disintegrate and go to the dump in one, maybe two, seasons, was not appealing to either of us.

enter erin benzakein of floret farm. she’s a kick-ass flower farmer up in the skagit valley in washington state. she too writes a blog, except hers is a lot more informative then certain other flower farmer blogs that i know. for example, her blog does not champion a certain dog in almost every single post. she describes how to grow great sweet peas, or how she preps her fields in the spring, or how to get tall zinnia blooms. she has this post (which became an article) about landscape fabric that turned both our heads this spring. i’m going to point you to it here: http://www.floretflowers.com/resources/the-low-down-on-landscape-fabic/ and also chronicle a bit of our own experience.IMG_5040

we bought the fabric she suggests, which is Sunbelt brand, after feeling assured of it’s longevity upon hearing that she has used the same pieces for six seasons, and even some pieces since the early 90’s. we borrowed a propane torch, which didn’t work (needs to be the type that can be inverted), then bought a burlier one, which mostly worked. we made a couple templates out of cardboard, tinfoil, and duct tape (the three jankiest starting materials i can thing of – perfect for soil sisters farm!) and used these to pre-torch the holes into the fabric at the spacing we wanted for our flowers we had ready to transplant (note – we found that making a decent sized hole was crucial, about 3 inches wide, in order to be able to get one’s hand in there to plant). we lay the now-holy fabric over the already-prepped and drip-taped beds, pinned it down using metal staples, and got down to transplanting.IMG_5045 IMG_5048

time will tell if the landscape fabric works for us. what we do know is that it significantly cuts down on weeding, it helps retain moisture which we are hoping will be extra useful in this time of drought, and it makes for evenly-spaced plants that use bed-space efficiently. its a step up for soil sisters farm (just to buy anything new for the farm is a victory around here) and i am hoping that in the long run it gives us more time planting, harvesting, and enjoying our flowers, and less time managing our uninvited weedy guests.

julius, helpful as ever

julius, helpful as ever

in gratitude for this late spring rain,
maisie

Stinging Nettle Cordial!

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Maisie and I have both made this delicious cordial from “Preserving Wild Foods” by Matthew Weingarten and Raquel Pelzel.  Such an energizing spring drink.

1 bouquet stinging nettles

Put nettles in a pot with 3 quarts water, 2 cups honey (I used a little less), 1 (1/4 inch) piece of ginger (I used a little more).  Bring to a boil, then add half a lemon, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds.  Remove the pot from heat and cover, let the cordial infuse for 24 hours.  Strain and store in the refrigerator, delicious served with some sparkling water.

a carpenter’s confidence

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i am a farmer, which means that besides an implicit expectation that i know how to make things grow, i am also expected to be able to build shit. fences, sheds, shelves, greenhouses, work-tables, irrigation systems, and of course, the perfectly shaped garden bed. i have never been a confident carpenter. i was not a child who was given a hammer at age three, my own toolbox at age five. i did not work alongside a parent building our home. i did not even put shelves up in my dorm room once i got to college, or in my first apartments later on. i have a memory of my 10-year-old self, attempting to make a treehouse. i hammered three random two by fours up the trunk of tree and climbed up to the third rail. i was maybe 5 feet off the ground. i was high enough to look into the kitchen window, that’s about it. so naturally i emerged into adulthood believing that i was was basically building-impaired.

but that’s because no one ever told me the secret truth: building is not that hard. building is not a man’s work. men are not better equipped to build a shelf in the garage (unless they are using their penis in there when we are not looking). men are not born with a knack for calculating measurements or using a saw. and yet, this is kind of what i thought. this story was even further validated as i began to farm. time and time again my male farming counterparts, mostly my superiors, were making and fixing shit. complicated shit. broken rototiller motors. underground root cellars. outdoor kitchens. whole frickin’ houses. meanwhile i drew pretty market signs that i laminated at staples. woohoo. when a particular project was at hand i was enlisted, when enlisted at all, to pull nails. the power tools littered around me seemed large, unwieldy, and dangerous. i was told not to touch them. i pictured a circular saw coming to life in my hands, slicing through a leg or arm. so yeah, i didn’t touch them.

but then i worked under the tutelage of a manager who wanted to empower his employees – all three of which that particular season happened to be women. there was finally no chance for me to be overlooked and equally no chance for me to hide. so i began to learn. i participated in welding the spade arms on our tractor. i helped build a large greenhouse, standing on the lifted bucket of a tractor to screw in each panel. i helped to dry-wall an old shed that became our farm office. with fear in my heart i cut posts for a compost station with a circular saw. and it began to get easier. i built an outdoor bed and learned the hard way that although it sounds romantic to build bed-posts out of trees, its just not. i did all sorts of small repairs around the farm. i built picture frames. i carved spoons. and when i left that job, my going away present from that same manager was a set of tools i still use to this day.

from there i slowly built up steam. outdoor toilets for all of our farm sites, a counter for my kitchen, bamboo flooring for my trailer. i fell in love with the ease of screws, and the brilliance of pre-drilling. i borrowed an impact driver and suddenly realized that screwing a screw is not about skill as much as the right tool. i invested in my own drill set. i bought a circular saw that was slightly smaller, easier to manage for smaller hands and a lighter build. i learned to measure lumber, account for extra inches, be specific. i realized that hours would pass and i would be so engrossed in the process i’d stop only because it was time to have dinner.

my confidence has strengthened over the years. now i relish a good building project. i feel happy when i am planning, cutting, building, creating something useful. shelves are always nice. you can’t have too many shelves as a farmer. i’d picture them here but they are not exactly the belles of the ball. function, not fashion is the mantra for most farm projects. but my latest construction has been to date my proudest. finished last weekend, the last boards cut, the last screws screwed. i built a bed! and not a janky outdoor bed made out of fallen trees i found in the dry creek-bed. no, a janky INDOOR bed made from pallets i collected from behind our local hardware store! except for this bed, i have to say, is arguably not as janky, because a) it actually holds our mattress and us up and b) it looks like something that sells at crate and barrel for a whole lot o’ money. and total cost for mine? about $60.

so yeah, i feel proud. and not just because i built a bed. but because i believed i could build a bed. i imagined something beautiful then i made what i imagined. there were moments i felt lame, ill-equipped, over my head. but i just gently reminded myself that i could do this. and i realized that any activity a guy could do while drinking multiple beers, a woman could also do. i just read that less than 2% of carpenters in our country are women. this isn’t because we don’t like the sound of power-tools (though sometimes i don’t), or lumber is too heavy for our tiny little lady arms. nope, from my own experience i can say that there’s just a lot of intimidation to overcome. combine that with a lack of female role-models and an educational system that doesn’t exactly steer girls into vocational specialties (farming and building alike) and you get very few women checking the carpenter box on the census.

so i am grateful for all the men and women who have taught me the skills i use in my vocation. the teachers who have taught me to tend to seeds and the teachers who have taught me to quiet the mind. the teachers who have taught me to use power-tools safely and those who have taught me basic grammar and syntax. and today i would like to especially thank the teachers who have encouraged me to build the things of the physical world as well as the things i think up in my dreams.

love, maisie

 

what the possum and the owl already know

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we farmers try so hard, we want to be
a thing of virtue, proud and free
we grow our food and make compost
of self-sufficiency we boast
but when the season comes to close
a panic starts, and worry grows
“it’s fall,” we exclaim, “i need to know
just what and why and where to go”
“the winter’s coming, the days grow short,
i feel the urge to sail from port
my friends go south to catch the sun
they climb and surf and just have fun
carefree and young they jet around
i watch with envy from the ground.
no kids, no mortgage is this my chance
to go to baja, thailand, france?”

but then i take a deep breath, and re-remember
vacation is more than bali’s beaches in december
it can be the stoking of the woodstove’s fire
making sculptures out of wire
hunkering under blankets warm,
listening to thunderstorms.
mornings of yoga, drinking tea
scaling mountains, climbing trees
rainy walks along the ditch
mending clothing stitch by stitch
fixing fences, building shelves
tiling the bathroom all by ourselves

the day to day is beautiful, i need to worry not
of adventures not yet taken, or the perfect snorkeling spot
inside myself is where i need to be
to find the truest sense of free
where mind is still as fallen snow
constriction eases, i can let go
be more like the bear that settles down
a fox whose den is close to town
the little frog that croaks and sings
whose happy with the simple things
the truth of living they seem to know
while my discovery was slow
just find a hole, a stump, a pond –
location’s insignificant
cause all the world – inside and out –
is perfectly magnificent.
love, maisie

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the buddha knows too.

 

freeze-dried fruit: a blessing and a miracle

this past week i was in the sierras, backpacking with my sweetheart and a handful of dear friends in the mountains just north of yosemite. we hiked way further then we initially had intended, but it was well worth it. shooting stars, quiet lakes, sunsets from the tops of peaks, thunderstorms, camp fires, and always a barely palatable freeze-dried dinner to top off the evening. julius had his own backpack, a source of unending pleasure for me. i pretty much can just stare at him all day anyways, but with a doggie backpack on? completely mesmerizing. 

i swear i didn’t plan for us to be matching ($20 on amazon btw, i’m not extravagant with my dog. just mildly obsessed).

i swear i didn’t plan for us to be matching (backpack was $20 on amazon btw, i’m not extravagant with my dog. just mildly obsessed).

i have to admit, coming back home, i miss the mountains. i miss that feeling of having everything you need in one small pack, the freedom of not having to be anywhere or be anything other than an animal, walking through meadows and resting by lakes and eating snacks. i like not thinking about what i’m going to wear, because there is only one option. i like not having mirrors around. i like that cell phones don’t exist, and there is not even the chance that the chirping of a bird can be mistaken for the phantom ring of the phone. i like the simplicity of backpacking. nothing superfluous: just water, food, bedding, hiking shoes, and a backpack for your dog. obviously we had more things than that, but it’s the feeling of simplicity of which i speak. there is not a ton of choice. you look at the map with your friends, come to a consensus of where to hike, then hike. you talk some, but mostly you watch the grass and granite pass under your feet at a slow and steady pace, you hear your breath, slightly more labored at 9,000 feet, and you watch your dog try to pass the person in front only to get thwarted by the unfamiliar berth of his backpack knocking into trees and rocks. it’s a feeling of truly living, as if this were indeed the culmination of the evolutionary mechanisms designed to develop the human mind: to finally stop fretting over the bills, the kids, the relationship, and drop into meditative bliss. take a load off. except, in this case, put a 50 lb load on.

"what do we wish?--to be whole. to be complete. wilderness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separated from." - terry tempest williams

“what do we wish?–to be whole. to be complete. wilderness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separated from.” – terry tempest williams

now i’m back to the land of skittle-colored flowers, weeds going to seed, and dirty knees. which, don’t get me wrong, i am incredibly happy about. my first night home i stopped by my friend’s, and also my next door neighbors, for dinner. a collection of my favorite farmers were there, sharing in a just-roasted chicken from one of the many we’d raised together as a group this summer, corn on the cob with lobs of butter, baked potatoes with sour cream (and more butter), cucumber-tomato-basil salad, and fresh strawberries with cream. this was basically the opposite of what we ate on our trip, and i was unapologetically pleased.

so how is it that i can wax poetic about farm fresh food when a minute ago i was praising the austere beauty of being in the mountains, sleeping under the stars, and eating the grossest, not-quite-reconstituted pad thai of my life? 

it’s because, from instant oatmeal to the fresh cucumbers and everything in between, there is a lot to be grateful for. there are terrible things happening in the world right now, and here i am lucky enough to be able to eat, to walk, to do work that i love, and to turn on my faucet and have clean clear potable water come flowing out. i even have the luxury to go into the mountains, wave a magic pen in my nalgene, and have clean water appear there too. this is why the world is full of poetry. it is generous and it is good. sad things and painful things happen and we suffer. but in nature especially, peace is as accessible as we open ourselves up to seeing that it is all around us.

i’ll admit that this post was mainly an excuse to put my dog and his backpack on our website (since this has almost nothing to do with flowers). but i’m also writing to remember, and to remind myself, that whatever happens in a day – whether it storms and the night before you slept on pinecones and then this morning you mistakenly ate part of a pot-cookie and proceeding to trip your brains out for 8 hours (just a random, totally impersonal example) – that even if things seem uncomfortable or stressful, there is still the opportunity to affirm what is good. i could complain about my back or the food or the fact that i forgot my toothbrush. or i could close my eyes and listen to the wind going thru the trees and smile and say thanks for what nature gives us so freely. cold mountain lakes and luscious dahlias, black bears and preying mantises, purple carrots and golden beets, and of course, snickers bars and doggie backpacks.

julius in the lead

julius in the lead

sunset from the top of something tall

"climb the mountains and get their good tidings. nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. the winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms energies, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - john muir

“climb the mountains and get their good tidings. nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. the winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms energies, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – john muir

love, maisie

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