Saturday, May 12, 2012

Simple Pleasures, Little Pleasures

by Zinta Aistars

And now that the first weeks have gone by, the big tasks done, the smaller and simpler pleasures have a chance to rise and take their moment in the sun.

A friend who came by to visit recently remarked that this is not the kind of place that one tires of in a short time. That it will grow on me. As the years go by, Z Acres and I will be rooted in each other. And so it is. Not a passing grin, or a shallow distraction, but a beautiful piece of land that gives back to me all that I put into it.

It's hard work mowing that much lawn. Not that I mow all ten acres, hardly, but even the couple acres or so around the little red farmhouse are quite the job. Take into consideration that I do it with a push mower, and you'll know why I have no need for a gym membership.

Most times, I do the lawn in sections. End of the work day, I may go out to do one corner, next day another, third day, over there, on the far side of the pond. Give it a day or two rest and start again. But when I finish ... that is one of those simple pleasures that warms me through.

Guinnez sprawls on the deck when I finish, as if the hard work had been his. Granted, he does circle around me when I mow. One of the many things I like about the push mower is that it makes no noise, has no scary engine, and the dog is not frightened by it. If I run near a toad in the grass or a rabbit in the bush or a bird nesting in the field grass, flushed from its nest, no harm done.

Having gotten in his exercise, too, old chow pup settles for a nap on the deck while I put my feet up on the lounge chair and sip a glass of cold water, fresh from the well, and let my eye wander in pleasure over the backyard. No, my friend is right, this will never get old. Only better.

Each day, I walk morning and evening around the property, pulled to connect again in some way. I check on plants and trees. I watch the changes the progression of seasons bring. Spring blossoms are almost all gone now, and on the apple tree, pink frilly blossoms have dropped away to reveal the tiniest little green buds of fruit. I think I see apple pie growing ...

In my greenhouse, seeds are sprouting, gaining growth enough to soon be transferred to a garden outside. Salad greens are big enough to eat. Dill is coming up, as is parsley, marjoram, green onions. Cherry and beefsteak tomatoes are unfurling tidy little green leaves.

And look! how easy! Another friend had told me about planting into the soil the heart of celery after I have cut away all the stalks to eat. Could it really be that simple? It is. I pushed the base of the celery into the soil, watered it, and presto. Within a week, first shoots of new celery stalks start to come up. Tiny, tender green leaves unfurl from the heart.

The strawberry plant, too, has offered up its first sweet berry. I pluck it from the vine and pop it right there and then into my mouth. How sweet! Like candy, only better, much better. Home grown.

As I mow the next section of grass, someone drives down my long drive. Guinnez sends a roar of warning. Good dog ...

But it's Jonathan. The beekeeper. He's come by to talk about setting up his beehives on the back border of my property. He worked with Cynthia, the previous owner of this property, and now he has come by to see if I might agree, too. And I do! I am fascinated to see this process of beekeeping. We arrange for him to come by on a night next week, as the hives must be moved at sleepy time for the bees, and set them all up. My payment? Twenty pounds of honey.


I like the idea of providing a safe place for honey bees, even as I have been learning about colony collapse, a dark phenomena of entire colonies of bees dying off from either pests or pesticides, or a combination of both, along with artificial ways of manipulating hives. I want to learn more, and I want to be a part of the solution. I am happy to provide Z Acres, and I think about talking to another neighboring farmer about helping me seed clover over the back five acres where the cornfields used to grow.

The simple pleasures pile up: the pleasure of caring for my land while improving my own health. The pleasure of learning new, sustainable ways of producing food. The pleasure of watching things grow: apples, strawberries, vegetables. The pleasure of picking a strawberry from the vine and popping it into my mouth like candy.

Life is good like this.

And there's more to come. I'm just getting started. My roots are growing deep, and Z Acres is pushing new strength up through me. It's a bond.

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