A moment in the sun

These are the times I have dreamed of. It’s not that things are not hard or that the fear and pain of what Miss Knife-sharpener is doing is not present. It is. But in other senses, these are the times I have dreamed of. It is worth reminding myself of that, because when something like that hangs over your head, you can easily forget to enjoy life.

Right now, the sun is soaking my garden in summer light and warmth. Birds are singing in the bushes and trees of the unused land next door to us. We’re told that all that will be gone by this time next year. There will supposedly be eight new houses built next to us, in what is now an ecological corridor. But for now, there are birds and sun and peace. Shaye is playing in the wading pool/inflatable castle that Dusan got for her last year in a moment of consumerist weakness. There’s a jar of ice tea brewing on my outside work table – elderflower and thyme this time.

There is a sentence in the “Book of Runes” by Ralph Blum which comes into my mind over and over these days: “Consider the uses of adversity.” Yes, we are socially isolated. There are usually no children for Shaye to play with and few adults for me to talk to beyond necessary business. Yes, our lives have been on hold for years, as we wait for sadistic bureaucrats to decide our fate and that of an unknown child that may or may not someday be ours. Yes, we lack the financial resources to go and visit my family in Oregon. All of those things are adversity of a sort. But without them I never would have learned about medicinal herbs.

I simply wouldn’t have had the time or the patience. I would have had social engagements or another child or more family and too little time. Today, I gathered tiny azure speedwell flowers in the meadow as Shaye and I walked back from an unsuccessful attempt to meet with a possible Romani babysitter. I cut them up and put them in a jar with almond oil to make a healing salve. Yesterday, I gathered plantain, nettles and comfrey in the little strip of woods between our house and the train tracks. We ate the nettles for dinner and the plantain and comfrey will go in other salves. Trays of herb seedlings cover my outside work table. I do not appear to have much of a green thumb, as many of them are sickly or haven’t sprouted at all. But there are some – elecampane, marshmallow, cayenne pepper, parsley – that are doing well. And an herbalist friend gave me an entire tray of beautiful Echinacea starts to make up for my complete failure to sprout a single Echinacea seed, despite the fact that it was I who gave her the seeds and the instructions for stratifying the seeds in the refrigerator.

These things give me a little feeling of glowing pleasure in my middle – all the things I am learning about medicinal herbs, my little garden of radishes, carrots, chard, strawberries and squash, my pantry full of horded healthy foods, like red lentils, whole wheat flour and brown sugar, which are so hard to procure here at reasonable prices. These are things I might well not manage, if life had gone the way I would have wished – busier, more social and with more children. I’m not saying it’s compensation or that I don’t still wish or dream, but I seem to be mellowing a bit in my middle age. I can see the uses, such as they are, for adversity.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. George Lederer
    May 22, 2011 @ 16:19:08

    Peaceful. Warm. Thought-provoking.


  2. Brook
    May 22, 2011 @ 20:10:26

    Those moments in the sun are so precious! I wish that I had more of them myself. ♥


  3. bop bop
    May 23, 2011 @ 03:42:56

    You don’t officially reach “middle age” until you hit 40! You are mellowing anyway. Don’t be in a hurry. You’ll be old soon enough.


    • ariefarnam
      May 25, 2011 @ 05:40:20

      Oh, that’s a relief. I thought it was 35. Although, I thought officially that middle age was not supposed to be “old”. Officially, of course.


  4. Nathaniel Farnam
    May 31, 2011 @ 06:57:19

    Up with sunshine! And gardens!


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