MUD SEASON 101
I had planned to go to the Monadnock Writers Meeting to hear the New Hampshire Poet Laureate but at home, I dawdled. By the time I left, I had missed the meet and greet part of the meeting but was determined to follow through with my plan-for-the-day: Attend the talk and discussion, then go off to buy organic shrubberies, wherever I might find them. A happy balance of intellectual stimulation and interaction with people, and gardening prep.
. . . Determined might be too strong a word. Ambivalent. It was so lovely out. Blue skies. Birds flitting about. The girls pecking free-range. Big Red not yet stuck and scolding in the compost bin. (An embarrassing story I promised him I wouldn’t tell.) I was already late yet, at a crossroad, I pulled over to the side of the paved country road to call a friend. I asked her where to find organic shrubberies, and whether I was a philistine because I gain more happiness from hanging out with my chickens than going to an art show. Not that I would know the degree of happiness I gain from that given how long it has been since I went to a gallery. Or a reading. Should I go to the reading?
She took me on a brief review tour of f**ked up societal expectations and then off we went to our days, mine mightily adjusted by the fact that the clock indicated that the Poet Laureate would be half-way through with her talk, if not done, by the time I got there. I was a confirmed philistine, and dove into a grinding moment of self-flaggelation because decades worth of societal expectations are a mantle I don’t throw off easily.
But what a waste of time and a beautiful day! I had chosen! Now I had time to create the perfect garden! All in one day! I turned the car onto the nearest dirt road that would take me over to a Coll’s Garden Center where I would buy oyster shells for the chickens and a shrubbery or five for the little birds flying about our home who might need someplace to hide from the Kestrel couple that had just moved in. Rather, they were renting somewhere, while Carl built their Kestrel house.
I merrily drove down and around the winding road, headed up a dirt hill, noting a large, cherry red van just cresting to come down it, smack dab in the middle of the road and no sign of moving over. To avoid a collision, I wisely steered our four-wheel drive Subaru over. To the right, To my side of the road. And stalled. Odd. The woman in the other car pressed forward, still not moving from the middle of the road but now waving at me to move over and back. I restarted the car, put it in reverse, and pressed down on the gas pedal. It stalled. Huh. Repeat. Restart. Gas. Stall.
I hate being in the way of other people. Easier just to let them pass by. The woman in the large hull of a red Suburban agreed. Undaunted by my car’s immobility, she drove past me. Through her open window and mine, she commented how the road was going to give way any time now, and continued on without even a thank you, Ma’am.
Ever the independent survivor type, I called Carl. What was I to do?
“It sounds like you’re stuck.” We both listened to the silence that followed that comment. “Call Neighbor #1.”
I hate asking for help. It’s so inconvenient to the askee. A taking of their time. But what else was I to do? Leave the car, walk home, get a shovel, and spend the day attempting to dig myself out, possibly being seen, knee deep in mud, and word would get back to Neighbor #1 who would look at me entirely baffled why I hadn’t called?
I called Neighbor #1. While I waited for him to arrive, I sat on a rock and busied myself staring at the sky. The trees shifting in the breeze. Balancing my thoughts of “I deserve this for not following a more intellectually stimulating route” with “what a beautiful day and how lucky I am to be able to sit here and enjoy it. Imagine if it were raining.”
Neighbor #1 arrived and stepped out of his truck. I felt like a child being saved from the consequences of her mistake. Teary-eyed, I watched him study the situation. Brushing off my apologies, he got a thick, heavy chain out of his back seat, attached it to the Subaru and then his truck, and suggested I get in the car and turn the wheels straight.
“They won’t turn,” I said.
“Maybe keep your hands off the steering wheel,” he suggested. “They’ll right themselves.”
Excellent advice. Keep me out of it, and ba-da-bing. In three shakes of a lamb’s tail, the car was out of the muck. He followed me the rest of the way along that dirt road, likely as not aware that I was all too capable of ending up on the sidelines again.
This anecdote puts a glaring light on the issue at hand. Not the continuing question of what am I doing up here, I am out of my element, a city gal in the country. But that of this blog. I want readers to gain something for spending a part of their mortality here. Carl and I might be twenty-first century “Green Acres” but I want readers to come back and to learn along with me. And so: what lesson can be drawn from Mud Season 101?
This one: the importance of community. Kindness and caring. Non-judgement. It’s an anti-Ayn Rand way of being. It’s not about rational self-interest but compassion. My friend whom I called didn’t give a hoot what I did. She loves me as I am. (Well, I assume she does.) And the woman in the red van likely didn’t realize or care what my situation was but Neighbor #1 did. He came and helped and didn’t make me feel like a city-bumpkin. It was a situation to be dealt with, and we did. And so I have one more thread strung in the web of support that surrounds me. It’s as strong as a trampoline if I risk bouncing on it.
Which bring up two issues I will have to look forward to in the next week: Ayn Rand’s philosophy as interpreted by today’s right wing politicians, and an introduction to biodynamics and seeds.
Meantime, tomorrow is Earth Day. Ironically, according to my biodynamic calendar, it isn’t a day to plant anything. But according to the Stella Natura calendar, it’s fruit (in parens) and then root. What will I do to celebrate Earth day? I think Carl and I will go buy fifty or so pine trees to be used to create a wind block/alley to our west. We’ll probably dig the holes tomorrow. And debate how to keep the trees watered and alive.
Ways to celebrate Earth day? Take a minute or thirty to think about what the Earth gives you and what you might do to aid the Earth. Don’t litter. Walk. Order a tree from Arbor Day to plant, or donate so that they might plant trees. www.arborday.org. Meet your neighbors. Be generous. Connect. Our world is changing. We are going to need each other. Depend on each other. At least, that’s how I think we will survive as a species: with compassion, not selfishness. Because compassion is the ultimate selfishness.
But I might change my mind after reading (as much as I can bear) Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged this week.