The Salesman

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

I became acquainted with Robert during my search for an affordable alternative to ag lime. Soil tests the previous year revealed that most of the ground our hay fields grew on had turned sour. Their PH levels were under 7. Calcium is what you apply to the ground to correct the PH. It was the cause of our dwindling harvests. If you are a wise farmer you understand the sacredness of soil and do all you can to preserve and protect it.

Robert worked for a company that sold liquid calcium. Liquid calcium had many advantages over dry lime but I had never used it before. I had questions. Lots of them. I needed to educate myself on the product. After receiving Robert’s initial response to an email, I could tell he was a salesman through and through. The email was pages of information and customer testimonial’s singing the praises of his product. As I sifted through the information I had to wonder, was it all smoke and mirrors? Or was his perceived confidence trusted truth?

Then the phone call happened. His sentences strung together like a fine pearl necklace. I could tell the sales pitch was recited hundreds, if not thousands of times, locked in his memory from the repetition. He drew out the vowels of his words in typical southern drawl fashion. By its tone and fluctuations, I guessed he was close to retirement. Here and there his words slurred together into unintelligible sentences. Even so, it was a pleasant voice to listen to. That was fortunate because Robert did most of the talking. True to his old school sales techniques, he peppered the conversation with sweetheart bombs and young lady references. I didn’t mind. They lightened the scientific nature of the conversation and ever so gently tickled my heart. Occasionally, to make sure I was still a captive audience there would be a quick, “You follow me dear?” He had me smiling at the first sweetheart.

Questions came about long I’d been farming and the animals we kept, the joys and tribulations that come with bringing in hay. We lamented briefly about getting older. More questions came. How long had I had the horses and their names? Did I ride often? They began to reflected a genuine concern for the land and the people that tended to it. I didn’t feel any pressure. I wasn’t wasting any of Robert’s time. Whether he got the sale or not.

It was near the end of the conversation that I learned Robert was 73 years old with no plans to retire. At the conclusion of the call I was reading off my credit card number. My encounter with Robert brought to mind a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

As it turned out, Robert was just the person I needed to educate me.

Songs Pray

Dew holds tight to the bushes and berries
Its grip loosened by the soft caress of dry cloth
Mornings these days are early and damp.

Flower faces reflect the sun’s smile
Standing tall above them all
a perfectly pink Phlox bloom
I pause to savor the sniff
Heaven dreams of a smell so sweet

In the patch worry rests
You can hear songs
Ancestral songs
The kind that come on their own
The kind that sing themselves
The kind that pray

Hollow bones hold the songs
I sing the praises of mobility and ruby red raspberries
Oh, the voice may crack and pop
But it carries the tune well enough

Handfuls of delight dangle from the tips of grateful fingers
I’ll harvest all I can from this juicy life
Fill my bucket and then some
Before I’m dead ripe

Patch Ponder

It’s how I will begin every other day until the harvest ends in August, on my knees next to dew covered blueberry bushes, filling first my belly then a small bucket with berries. Its a humble prayerful posture. I seek the plump soft berries that hide among lush green leaves and bowed branches. I take only those ready to relinquish their attachment from tiny stiff stems. I always come to the patch with an attitude of gratitude. Anyone that helps pick has to be willing. No one is forced to pick because I want the bushes to feel nothing but appreciation for their gift. My movement in the patch is slow and easy. I know I will be returning many more times in the coming weeks. Great care is given to do no harm or hurt to the bushes that surrender their fruit.

When you pick blueberries there can be a large cluster but only a few will have color and of those few only one or two will be blue through to the stem. You can feel they’re ripeness by their willingness to release. I look too but each year I feel more and look less or my back yells at me. Blue to the stem are sweet. All other’s have a tang of sour.

Many of us are working on releasing negative experiences, thoughts and people. The blueberries reminded me this morning not to force this process. It’s OK to wait for the healing to be whole—ripe for the picking. You will be able to release AND relinquish attachment to the experience. There will be a willingness on your part. You will feel it and be Okay with whatever place the other(s) are in their healing in that shared experience. Only then can you move forward consistently. Healing can hide. Feel for it in a gentle way. You may have to return many more times.

Wish you all have ripe—sweet—healing!

Summer Feelings

Summer’s breath has been hot and heavy these past few days like an agonizing slow exhale that is forecast to reach into next week. All day the heat’s stronghold builds. My bodies profuse sweating the lubricant that allows me to penetrate its walls.

As I halter up the horses, a faint breeze offers a welcome but fleeting respite from the oppression. The horses walk at a leisurely pace down the path towards the lush field of belly high grass. Not a wrinkle of worry on their brows. Every voluptuous curve on their form moves like a gentle rolling wave disappearing into the sand. Summer is a time of loose fullness. More than bodies soften.

Growing up we didn’t have air conditioning. My Mother used to tell us when the heat and humidity of the day carried into the night and kept us awake, it was because we could hear the corn growing in the fields. The grumbling over sleepless nights instantly turned into gratitude. The saying still holds true. All around in the heat of summer things are growing. Including parts of myself.

Every season offers us gifts. We need to learn from nature how to be in harmony with each season. It’s especially difficult during times of extremes when the human minds twist nature’s wisdom into whining. When Mother Nature is in control, stay in the flow. The challenge is to turn inside if something outside makes us uncomfortable. It’s how we were designed to grow—from the inside out.

Today I feel summer feelings (inhale).

Breathing it all in

Sky Kiss

Father Sky came down to kiss Mother Earth this morning
Reassured by the sacred union,
the hard worry in my heart softened.
The affection walked beside me around the field.

I let it inside.

Opened wide and deep,
my lungs embraced the cool moist air.
Momentarily I held its love,
Then gradually I released it to the life around me.
Going, going, gone.

Come Again

It’s coming

Ushered in on Spring’s promise
humanities aesthetic rebirth is coming.
I hear the pant of deliverance.

Almost there

Anticipation’s innocence
carries a soul
through heavy fear
and thick uncertainty.
Pushes us through deep blackness.

It’s time

The rite of passage has arrived.
Tolerances fully dilated.
Anxiously waiting to hear the wail
from our infant humanness.
All the world rejoices!

It’s here

Wrapped in the World’s love
Compassion forgives the sin
Reach out your arms

Come

Visit the prayer you prayed.
Hold joy.
Love and be loved.

We journey toward no end.
It’s coming — again.

Life is Ceremony

Isn’t life ceremony?
Breath it’s prayer,
pain and suffering the sacrifice
to grow souls;
love it’s healing,
hope it’s saving grace,
gratitude the great amplifier of joy.

Every heart a doorway
to the lodge or church or
temple that lives there.
Find your way to a seat; any seat will do.
Sit quietly and listen for a voice.
Even if nothing is heard, something is felt
that makes you better.

All around us medicine; you are medicine.
Not all medicine tastes good,
but it all does some good.

Partake in the communion with nature,
worship the ground you walk on,
have reverence for all life, everywhere.

A beautiful ceremony lives in you.
Bring it to life.
Don’t hold on to the gift.
Give it to the world.

You will make missteps along the way,
but the ceremony goes on forever.
It is still happening.

Winter Walk

I’ve returned home from a long walk
in Winter’s night
along the woodland’s dark edge
a place where shadows play with one’s imagination

Peaceful scents of pine escape from emerald green needles
enclosed in the wind’s frosty breath
drifting past my rosy running nose
Every last whiff I sniff

Covered by a moonbeam cloak of sequins,
the mesmerizing landscape twinkles in
the mind’s wide open eye

Wakened from a whisper on the wind
forgotten promises remembered
surely Winter, with its pure white heart,
would not be unforgiving.

Clear and cold, attention starved thoughts
a constant companion
no turning back now
I follow where they go
down and deep
up and away

Winter nights walk stillness inward
where I hear silence speak
in a soft slow voice
of wonderful things

Feeling warm, cozy and comfortable
with myself
I turn towards home
I’ve returned to my heart

Compass

Live water
cradle of life
forever and ever live

Speak wind
voice of Spirit
quiet the mind’s tongue
touch our attention
so we hear your counsel

Reach sun
warm distant souls
turn their faces
towards the light

Love earth
Mother that carries life
all we need to live
forgive us

Think mind
know your thoughts
be free

Open heart
close the wounds
of humanity
heal us

Creator
help us remember
how to be a good relative
help us

A minute ago, a glance at the woods outside my window was clear and now tiny white specks are falling from the sky like powdered sugar shook through a sieve. All I see is covered in a dusting of tiny white specks. There is a soft sweetness that comes over me when I watch snowflakes that fall in straight and true lines from above.

The snow comes after a sharp cold snap. The bitter cold reminded me to appreciate the warmth in life. In words, deeds, the saffron orange flames lapping at the wood stove glass and snowflakes floating down like powdered sugar.

Below is an excerpt from the book I wrote, Sweet Wisdoms. The piece was written during a grueling period of below zero temperatures that stretched all living creatures to the limits of their breaking point.

Keep a warm heart in a cold world and you won’t become a bitter person.

Cruel Cold

Here in Wisconsin, it’s freeze-your-nose-hairs-together and turn-your-whiskers-frosty kind of weather. As I make my morning rounds of chores, I keep pulling my hat down and my long underwear up! You can feel the landscape’s bones on these sharp cold days. I delight in the simplicity of winter~ stay warm. Bitter cruel cold, you can’t make me a bitter cruel cold person!