The summer I picked up a shovel to loosen hard earth, was the same summer that I picked up my pen to write, and I cannot but think that they are related. Part of an unknown co-created conversation.
I had not reckoned on being a hobby farmer, but then, nor did I ever expect that I would give writing a chance to actually have a voice, beyond my own shy circle of secret scribbling. Instead, as Roethke said, ‘I learn by going where I need to go”. What happens (other than terror), when you put one foot in front of the other, with no plan beyond what feels so correct and utterly worth pursuing?
It all began when fortuitous circumstances and a giant leap of faith into the least practical part of my being, enabled us to buy a small cabin on a remote and relatively pristine island in B.C. Canada where we had already spent much time over many years, a place we consider our ‘soul home’. Down a long abandoned logging road on the property, was a neglected but established fruit and blueberry orchard.
Do we ‘work’ it, or leave it to return to the forest wild? What devious part of oneself would enlist in an activity that would be labor intensive, with no financial reward, would in fact call for investment, with limited or unknown payback? We did! I did not know at that time that the skills required to do the one were oddly close to the skill set I might need to do the other. Writing poetry would also require, work (lots of), financial investment with no sense of return, but for the compunction towards the thing in itself. Certifiable!
I’m so grateful that I’m not yet too old or cynical to take a flying leap off a cliff, arms thrust out, head up to catch the wind knowing that I will fall, but not knowing if I will come to rest in a soft patch of gathered springy seaweed, or crash onto unforgiving rock; like an oyster dropped from the beak of the oyster catcher, broken open.
‘Blueberry Summer’, was the first poem of my first book, The Territory of Home, written in the first year of being an amateur blueberry farmer.