“Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.”
Shel Silverstein

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

ow ow ow i think i strained something
Mon 2014-04-28 23:34:39 (in context)
  • 3,400 words (if poetry, lines) long

I had an argument with my alarm clock this morning that resulted in my arriving at the farm a half hour or so late. Basically, my alarm clock argued that I had previously expressed an intention to get up at 6:00 AM, and would I please do it now? And I argued that no, there couldn't possibly be a reason for me to be up at six, shut up. To which my alarm clock said, Fine, shutting up now, but you're gonna be sorry. And indeed, when John's alarm clock went off at eight, I was very sorry.

By the time I got to the farm, I could see the Monday team hard at work in the "spring garden," the terraced beds on the east side of the property. So I parked the car thereabouts, grabbed my work gloves, and jumped in.

First off, we were mulching a bed of recently transplanted herbs, mostly thyme. Mulch consisted of broken up hay or straw (I can't always tell the difference once it's baled) to be scattered plentifully over the beds, whilst clearing out a little scoop around each tiny herb start. The next-door bed of hyssop served as our model. Not to mention the next-door-the-other-side bed of garlic, tops already shooting up to a foot or more tall.

Secondly, we began preparing a new bed for planting. It was in a state of nature: not yet tilled, beginning to green over with bindweed and other noxious customers. Now, McCauley Family Farm is an organic farm. Herbicides are not on the menu. Weeds are managed by hand or not at all. Today, we managed with pitchforks and patience.

We sank those forks just as deep as they would go--what I lack in upper body strength I make up in body weight and gravity, i.e. jumping up and down on the pitchfork--then levered the forks back and forth to break up the earth and expose the roots of each individual bindweed plant. If the root was stuck, sometimes a bit more fork-wiggling loosened them up enough to slip out whole. Sometimes we just had to break them off a few inches down. Thus we traversed the crop bed, covering one pitchfork's worth of ground at a time.

My instinct was to lift the fork entirely, turning the wodge of earth over. But this wasn't what we wanted. For one thing, we were told, this would expose the beneficial microbes and fungi to too much oxygen all at once, activating them to start eating up all the nutrients before the soon-to-be-planted crops could have a chance. For another and more immediate thing, lifting and turning the earth risks burying the very weeds we were trying to expose. So patience, once again, was the order of the day.

Now of course I'm going to be trying to find a metaphor for writing in all of this. That's what I do. Also, this is a blog about writing. And farm work is especially rife with metaphors for writing. Here's a few I'll be chewing on this week:

  • Mulching: Nurture ideas and works-in-progress by pursuing research and activities related to the idea or work-in-progress. I might do some remedial reading on Ragnarok and ash trees and historic worst winters, for instance. This builds a crop bed culture full of nutrients and moisture, so to speak. But it's important to keep the work-in-progress in sight; it's too easy to let these mulching activities smother it in a thick covering of procrastination.

  • Weeding: Oh, I don't know--something about examining those details implied by the story idea and patiently interrogating them until the full length of their roots is exposed? Something about maybe not scaring them away or destroying them by going after them with too much brute force? (What does that even mean?)

Sometimes my writing metaphors are really strained. What the hell. They might prove useful. Let's wait and see.

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