Greetings Friends, Neighbors and Strangers,
Sending this digital letter out into the world is not unlike holding a mature Dandelion seed head to the Wind. A couple of weeks back we were in the lion stage here; yards in the neighborhood glowed with that stubbornly cheerful yellow color. I noticed my neighbor Pat mowing his lawn as often as he could, attempting to tame it back to straight green. Within hours, however, they’re back out. Now we have entered the time of dispersing seeds, to the delight of some, and the agitation of others. I, along with the Sheep and Cows here at the Farm, adore those tender Spring Dandelion leaves—mildly bitter, tonic, digestive. The sight of Dandelion fuzz drifting on a Spring breeze makes me smile. Stubbornly cheerful, persistent, alive.
Every once in a while, the digital wind blows this weekly story-plea to a patch of disturbed, fertile ground. Seeds know how to get to work in places like that. Stories too. This week, I’ve got a couple of heart-warming stories for you. But first, this week’s invitations and requests:
A map of longing
I am writing a book that tells a story of giving food away at Brush Brook Community Farm. While that Farm project has been closed for a year and a half now, the website is still live. The home page reads: “Brush Brook Community Farm is an experimental agricultural gift economy in Huntington, Vermont.” As I write, I am realizing that the book amounts to a map—story lines scratched onto a blank page to summarize a living terrain peopled by humans and nonhumans. Maps are used primarily for navigation, for wayfinding. We rely on navigation in every moment as we decide which way to proceed—right, left, forward. Where to procure food, to find love or companionship, to seek rest, to alleviate boredom. But we don’t tend to use maps for terrain with which we are familiar. It might seem an obvious statement, but let it sink in for a moment.
I recently talked with a class of college students about the late Brush Brook Community Farm. I began by asking them to raise their hands if they knew what “community service” was. All hands went up. “How many of you have done community service?” Again, all hands. “Would anyone be willing to offer an example?” A volley of one-sentence stories filled the air. “I raked leaves once for my elderly neighbor.” “I volunteered for a few hours at the Food Pantry.” “I picked up trash on Earth Day.”
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