02 September 2013

Most Menial Job I've ever had...

My most menial labor? It was winter here (back in 1983, I believe) and I headed south for Mexico...found a beat up VW camper with a good engine in Phoenix, AZ for 400 bucks (which was my savings) and so went looking for itinerant day labor. Got a job shoveling colored gravel on a large property in Fountain Hills (an upper crust community) working alongside a couple of Mexican laborers. A few days of backbreaking shoveling and the Mexicans quit. I stopped the next morning at a Denny's to get a bite to eat for breakfast, parking lot loaded with Cadillacs and Mercedes, etc...the menu I had to choose from cost double of that of the 'seniors' with fancy cars. That day while shoveling, I noticed a woman drive a pink cadillac out of the garage across the street...then she went back in and pulled a blue cadillac out of the garage. Standing next to them she looked alternately at the cars and her clothing, cars, clothing. Pulled the pink one back into the garage...and then drove off in the one that best went with her outfit. I quit that afternoon.

Crossed the border a few days later, spent two months camping by a hot spring in the mountains of Mexico...playing guitar, writing, drawing. Would go to a village 15 miles distant once a week to get fresh veggies and corn tortillas...to supplement my stores of beans and rice. I soaked in the springs at least 3 times each day. Spent 60 dollars US in as many days, including fuel. Returned to Minnesota with what I had left and built the homestead I now live on.

so, in many ways my most menial labor also became my most rewarding.

01 September 2013

Autumn's bounty

Last night brought much needed rains followed by a coolness not felt in awhile. The harvest is quickly coming in, the summer coming to an end. Tomatoes and peppers are being frozen, sauerkraut is in the crocks, kimchi is nearly ready to supplement our plates. Apples are fermenting into hard cider for winter's enjoyment. Potatoes, onions and garlic are drying for storage. Wild rice harvest will be upon us soon. Wood is stacked and the sheds are full. Soon also, it will be time with the cool days, to cut dead and dying trees to clear an area at the cabin. The trees will be split and stacked to become future tenants in our wood sheds, and heat for aching bones. Winter squash is ripening on the vines, basil is ready for picking and making into pesto which will be frozen for winter's use. Fall greens are doing well and will provide a couple of months of bounty. Seedlings of various lettuces will be in the greenhouse in the next few weeks. Brussels sprouts are filling out and are always better after frost. These days we so cherish.

~John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, 
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? 
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft, 
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

The River

upstream from white sand beaches are hamlets, paddies and canyons bombshells unexploded, cratered land, cratered faces  mangled extremities...