On Becoming a Columnist

As the sun comes up on a cold May morning
I spend most of every day out in the gardens, down in the basement repotting seedlings or in the kitchen developing new recipes for what I am harvesting. In other words, I’m pretty much on my own out here on our sixty acres, with the birds, our two old cats, the rabbits and whatever other critters make their way through the scene for company. It’s a good thing, then, that I enjoy solitude. But I also now understand the allure of the daily trip to the farm store, the post office, the naturals foods coop–what was once a nuisance errand, packed in at the end of a long day of teaching, is now a welcome bit of contact with the human community. I have to seek out the connections rather than seek time away from them.

dreaming in the morning

The same kind of shifting is going on in my relationship to writing and photography. Whereas I used to be primarily interested in the meanderings of fiction and abstract photo, now I try to communicate to someone these small ideas for changing the world. Nonfiction narrative. As much for local readers as for the blogosphere. Through Open View Gardens I mean to introduce people to a world of flavors rooted in our northern gardens–not just through the subscriptions to my kitchen productions and classes, by also through conversation around these pressing issues. And so, I cannot be content to write on a blog alone in hopes that someone might come across these scratchings and respond– I have added writing for a local audience through the one vehicle everyone I know in this area reads consistently. I have joined my friends Kate Gridley and Judy Stevens in writing a new weekly column for our county newspaper, The Addison Independent, about lessons learned from the land: PATCH work: Three Gardens, Many Kitchens. My opening column, The World in a Garden, was printed yesterday. People I run into on those forays into town will read these thoughts, and hopefully have something to say about them and to them. Seeding ideas.

As the weather careens from warm to cold and back again, as my seedlings thrive beneath tunnel and shiver in the open ground, as I put them all to bed each cold evening beneath the forty sheets and tarps I have collected over the years, as I tell the seedlings trying to burst into blossom in the basement (not a good idea for peppers that need pollinators) to hold on, they’ll move to the gardens soon, I am not working in a vacuum or for my family alone. This website posting, and now the newspaper column and the developing interplay between my voice, Kate’s and Judy’s, and the conversations that crop up in our community (I hope that’s what happens) will tie me ever more closely to Addison County, to Vermont, and to the fuller human community as I grapple with the changing climate, the changing human landscape as the day-to-day concerns of the garden. And so if you think that this gardening-cooking adventure is lonely, even isolating work, as a friend asked me yesterday as he gazed at the three new 8′ x 12′ raised beds my husband built, not to worry. I’ve got the rumbling bees and nesting birds, the lone coyote, the bobcat and rabbits, and through the gardens and kitchen, through my writings and photos, through those trips into town, I’m connecting with the human community more deeply and widely than when I was a teacher.

spring morning

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Column, Garden

One Comment on “On Becoming a Columnist”

  1. May 17, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    It was terrific seeing your photos, Barbara!

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