about bliss

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

daily bliss: harvesting

Although I long for the halcyon flip-flop and floaty dress days of July and August, I also love these June days of summer newness, when cool breezes flirt with warm sunshine, sending sublime shivers across the tiny expanses of exposed skin not ensconced in fleece.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat in a spinach patch, harvesting as many green leaves as possible before the plants are tilled under to make room for heartier summer fare. As I scooted around the plants, dodging bees and wielding a sharp garden knife to slip each leaf from the plant, my mind wandered. All that spinach in all the stores across this nation--is it all harvested like this? Certainly not with the meditative pace of this dilettante gardener, but with the same basic low-tech tools and hands-on labor.

We (should) know it's low paid work, done mostly by immigrants (legal or not). My mind whirls with political conversations and implications that are not the stuff of bliss, but are the stuff of important conversations we should be having about our food chain and the people involved along the way--every single one of us who eats is part of the system, whether we admit it or not...

I'm enjoying my time out at the farm, time when I replace my Chanel with a cloud of Deep Woods Off, time when my fingernails leave the pristine-ish white keyboard of my MacBook and dig into compost enriched dirt, time when I learn how to cultivate, nurture, and harvest growth.

Michael Perry extols the virtues of chopping wood by hand, noting that "there is the idea that primitive, meaningful work delights the mind. [...] You take that ax in hand, and it frees your mind" (Perry, Coop). And from there it's a straight line back to Gary Snyder, and his poem "Axe Handles," which concludes:

And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.
(Snyder, "Axe Handles")

The axe--symbolic of rigorous, physical work--cleaves and creates, cutting through the clutter, composing culture (too much alliteration?).

Whether growing and harvesting food, chopping wood, or stringing together words, the work of creation is demanding. Rewarding. Maddening. Slow going.

Above all, essential.

I'm discovering during this Summer of Fun/Summer of Creativity that I want to take this business of floating words onto pages and screens more seriously.

To find my voice(s) and to find where they want to go.

And then to let them take me there...

spinach: picked, cleaned, and bagged by me


  1. i love spinach, especially when it is fresh from my own little garden.

    i found my way to your blog through revisionista. :)

  2. yoga detox/chocolate meditation--say what?!?!

    that's awesome! wish i could go too.

    i was thinking about you tonight when i added spinach leaves to the sundried tomato pasta i made for dinner. :)

  3. Your spinach looks great! Mine's only about two inches tall yet. Have you read Better Off? It's been a couple years since I read it, but it kind of sounds like the value of labor but also talks about community, too.

  4. Toward the end of this post, I really like the four adjectives you chose to describe the work of creation. But I grinned when I saw "rewarding" and "maddening" right next to each other.

    So true.

    And essential? Couldn't agree more.

  5. thanks for stopping by, melita! i'm glad our paths have crossed!

    when you come visit (hint!) we can go, revisionista:)

    i haven't read *better off,* joy, but it sounds great! i'll add it to the list.

    gregg, maybe it's rewarding because it's maddening?!?