Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crisis of confidence

I've started four blog posts since Oct. 31, and have yet to complete one. I reach a certain pathetic point and say, who cares? And then ordinary life calls me away from the computer.
Years ago when I wrote a weekly newspaper column, I often had the same self-defeating thought but had to forge ahead regardless of everyday demands. There's a lot to be said for deadlines. Dogs resulted, but I occasionally produced something that pleased me. Reading over those columns 25 years later, too many make me cringe. Others make me a proud of what I was once able to think and write. I'm older now. Can I still do it?
My everyday life is focused on gardening and cooking, much of which is linked to my 36-year marriage to PK; keeping fit with yoga and cycling; fulfilling my requirement for heavy backbeat music and vigorous dancing; shepherding my sweet almost-94-year-old mother through her last years; keeping up a part-time writing/editing business; maintaining precious friendships; traveling when possible, and sustaining a supportive role for the Women's Crisis Support Team, a domestic violence non profit in Grants Pass. What comes gasping at the end is artistic expression via blog writing and photography. I also dream of textile art (why else have I saved all those fabric scraps and wine sleeves?)  drawing, painting, and putting together creative projects on behalf of our adorable first grandson, Noah Preston Korbulic, nearly six months old.
That's him. Noah. Most adorable Duck fan ever. 
Our two grown sons, who were once at the dead center of my universe, are still prominent but they have edged into outer orbits with their own so-interesting lives to be followed from afar. Electronic telescopes work. Email, Facebook, blogs, text msgs,  occasional phone conversations, and the too-infrequent in-person visits that always surprise and delight me. Who is this handsome young father, husband, and about-to-be Ph.D? And the extreme athlete adventurer whose current African expedition keeps me awake at night?
The young father will soon learn that his child is not his for long, but belongs to the universe; and the wandering son will know, if he doesn't already, the truth of this Stephen Crane poem:

          A man said to the universe. 

"Sir I exist!" "However," replied the universe, 
"The fact has not created in me 
A sense of obligation." 

And that brings me back to my universe: the simple little plot of Earth that PK and I temporarily claim as our own. It is 3.5 acres of Rogue Valley bottomland. We live in a modest but much-loved home that we started building 30+ years ago. The soil here is sticky fertile black clay, but through the years we've reclaimed a sizable piece, and with mountains of organic matter, have turned it into sweet friable soil that releases an intoxicating fragrance when turned over, and produces, with much toil and love, food that sustains us. This piece of land is small. But it belongs to us, to PK in one way and to me in another. So let's get to that.

These late-season serranos, jalapenos and assorted others were harvested earlier this month. Peppers are PK's labor of love. I love them too, but am glad he plants the seeds and nurtures the seedlings and weeds, thins, harvests, and makes the pepper flakes and cans the sauces and so much more. 
After having declared the summer harvest over and done several times, last on November 13, I was delighted to discover the world's sweetest cherry tomatoes still ripening in a once-hidden corner of the garden. I picked a berry basket and declared it quits on summer harvest. On Nov. 18th, I ventured  into the rain and wind, and little golden nuggets beckoned again. Unbelievably, there was another basket to pick! See how jewel-like the universe can become when one is focused on an infinitesimal patch of Earth? Well, I guess you had to be there. 

These are the last- harvested round and paste tomatoes, Nov. 8 Many years the garden is inundated by this time.

And these are Roma types that have been ripening inside since early November. 

Tomato removal in progress. So many green ones didn't reach maturity, but we still had the most prolific tomato harvest in memory. All those green ones on the vine will go into the pile in the next picture.

These are spent vegetable plants tossed into a thick row in the field outside the garden. PK will run the tractor/mower over to grind them into mulch. We won't put this stuff back into the garden, however, because we don't want to reintroduce any bugs or diseases.
This is the garden as it looks now, more or less. It's to-bed for the winter. But beneath the white permeable cloth are broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, and cabbage plants. The cold frame has been placed in front of the house, and in late December (when we return from a trip to Costa Rica) we'll plant spinach, lettuce and chard. The elevated rows are heaped with compost (grass clippings, leaves, kitchen waste, manure) that brewed in the trenches all summer. At the right rear, covered with a layer of straw, is next year's garlic crop. Beyond that, tattered prayer flags that need to be replaced. And beyond the garden fence, the future home of bovine and porcine types that PK fancies will join us.
 Nite nite, garden. See ya in February, when I'll be cutting kale, weeding garlic, and planting beets and peas. Unless the uncaring universe plucks me up and sets me down elsewhere. You never know, do you?