Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Meandering River

Planting a seed is a funny thing. There is a lot of faith attached to putting a tiny little dormant thing into a pot and expecting it to grow into something wonderous and fruitful.

This is a period of transition for me. I am on leave from my job, my children are finally able to walk without my assistance (even if they sometimes would rather not) and I have an opportunity to find out what I like to do best on the farm. As with all major change that I have known, there seems to be a time where it appears as though nothing is happening. You keep adding water and nutrients and sunlight and love and hoping that your efforts will amount to something. When growing vegetables, ordering seeds that have been tested for viability gives you a kind of guarantee for germination. But what about all the other seeds we plant in our lives - the ones that grow out of an idea or an inspiration?

With gardening, once you’ve seen a few rows or trays of seeds come to life, you start to know from experience that you will get some version of your desired outcome (give or take a few variables). But the kernels that you sow that make up who you are may not come with a guarantee that they will grow. It may not even be clear what they are going to turn into. Some inspirations arrive in the night while you are dreaming, while watching a film, talking with someone or reading a book. They probably don’t even show their entire selves to you right away. Yet you continue to cultivate, sow, tend and nurture in hopes that one day there will be something to harvest. What gives a person the courage to keep wandering around in the dark putting energy into something that can’t be seen?

For me, I know a seed is worth waiting for if the picture becomes clearer as time goes on. These are the run away ideas that gain momentum with each passing thought or action. Soon the people around me are joining the train and pushing the ideas forward too. I also get a little chill up my arms as though God is sending me a message telling me that I am on the right track and to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the direction that I am going.

But I can tell you, for someone who doesn’t prefer standing still, who gets ants in her pants at the tiniest thought that space won’t be filled with some kind of doing, this seed planting stuff can be a pain in my rear end. As I also possess zero ability to notice my accomplishments or forgive myself for things gone wrong, there is truly no way to gauge where I am on the spectrum of “good idea” and “you did it!”. It all seems a maze of unfinished business or things that I figure any idiot could accomplish if they set their minds to it. I probably should talk to someone about that but that's for another day.

I recall a walk some years ago along the Ottawa Rideau canal with a friend where I blurted out this idea I had for making goat cheese. My friend who had known me for many years had seen the fits and starts that were my life and was quick to point out that it would be difficult to milk a goat on the balcony of my bachelor apartment downtown. Right she was. Until this time, my life had been ever shifting, ever moving on and never landing. But there was something about this idea that felt like coming home. Like it was something I was meant to do.

Fast forward to the second date I had with my husband. We decided to go canoeing down some rapids in the spring on a river that I had only been on once before. The unpredictability of our outing was unusual for so early in a relationship, but there was something that seemed incredibly safe and comfortable about this man sitting beside me in the truck. While we were driving, I had a clear vision of 40 years into the future of the two of us driving along in a beat up old truck headed for a meandering river. The road opened up before us on that day, and without roadblocks or any doubt, we bought a farm together just a handful of months after.

Looking back now I think we were both stark raving mad. But there was that feeling that lets you know that the path forward is the best one to take. And you take it, hoping that you will find a way to live your truth, find your best voice and get up every day to nurture the fields of your life, even if you can’t see what you will reap from it.

Sure I got cows instead of goats but I did end up making cheese. That is all part of learning to navigate a meandering river. Take the turns as they come and have faith that what lies beyond the next bend will grow into something you could never have imagined.


  1. i Have found a new daily routine that I look forward to enjoying...thanks les

  2. . . . and I look forward to trying your cheese one day ;)


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