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Surreal, But Really Real

Transplanting, along with directly seeding in the soil, is the name of the game this week. (And for weeks to come!)

We’ve transplanted kale, chard, beets, some onions, rhubarb, and spinach. Wondering what’s up next? Asparagus, the last of the onions, mini broccoli, kohlrabi, and potatoes.

Yikes! That’s a tall order, and there’s a good chance we'll be playing catch up into next week.

beet seedlings

But we’ve never been ones to shy away from long work days, and I don’t see us doing so now.

Besides, my sister Nicole is coming to help this weekend. (She doesn’t know it yet, but we’re calling her our secret weapon of this event ➡ Our 2021 Spring Transplant!)

We’re getting in the rhythm of the days, first morning chores and then heading off to our respective jobs for the day.

Bill and Aidan are often prepping beds to be planted a few days off, while Liam, Marlee, and I transplant seedlings into the ones they readied a few days back.

Bill & Aidan making trenches for asparagus and Aidan hitching a ride!

Sometimes the three of us work quietly while thinking our own thoughts. Other times we discuss or debate subjects like religion, politics, racism, or current events like police shootings. Or, if we’re close enough to each other, Marlee will play a comedian like John Mulaney or Aisling Bea on her phone. We listen and laugh together at their ironic observations knowing we’ll probably reference some of them in future conversations and laugh again.

Liam joking me that he thinks we're planting mandrakes not rhubarb!

(Harry Potter aficionados will understand the reference and why he's wearing earmuffs. 😉

I appreciate this time with my kids. Their perspectives often challenge me, and I alternate between taking pride when they articulately express themselves and feeling uncomfortable when they call me out on an inconsistent belief, and I stammer looking anything but articulate!

Both situations are good for me.

Some say I’m afflicted with maybe a little too much assuredness in my views. My mom says I inherited it from dad. Maybe there’s some truth to that. He could be very certain. But, I try to keep my mind open to other possibilities. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that humility is good.

So, while I’d like to think I offer them some “wisdom” from living longer than they, I also realize they’ve experienced a world much different than the one I grew up in. That gives them valuable insights I don’t have. Ones that I can best understand only if I’m willing to listen to a different perspective. And that I would actually BE the wiser for considering even if, or maybe more importantly, when I disagree.

Often, as we move down the rows, I feel myself stepping away in my mind to observe our interactions. It’s a surreal experience.

I see me, usually next to one of them and across the thirty-inch-wide soil bed from the other, on the ground, pulling baby kale, chard, or whatever we’re planting out of trays, settling them in the hole I dig, and then firming the ground around before moving to the next seedling just as they do.

I can’t help but be brought up short by how much older I look than them.

Much older that I’d like. I see lots of grey hair. That’s maybe not so bad for the curls I know, for sure, I inherited from Dad but look at those wrinkles! I like that I express myself through my face - smiling when I see you come to my market table or run into you at Nina’s - but I don’t think of myself wearing those visible reminders all the time. I notice I’m getting up and down slower and with more awareness of my movements then Liam and Marlee. I remember when I could easily stand and squat - often with a kid in tow - was it really that long ago?

I realize that I’m going through my days thinking I’m as young as they are. It’s an unconscious self-deception. But in these observational moments, I can't deny, the gig is up. It's obvious to me, with an unforgiving clarity, that more time has passed than I feel comfortable with.

Aidan, Stacey, and Marlee

I zoom out. Seeing the farm around us and expanding out further to the greater world around us and I imagine other farmers spending their time similarly during this season.

And I feel my place. On this farm. In this family. And through this body, even as it’s getting older than I’d like.

I don’t want to take any of it for granted.

I feel myself trying to suck up every moment I’m so lucky to have. Take it all in. I’m hyperaware of the shortness of our lives.

Surreal, but so real that I feel more alive than I ever have.

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