Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Did you ever play that game? On long car trips with my family--and church youth group trips as I got older--us back-seaters would watch for tight curves in the road, then call out "Corners!" and lean hard into the turn, giggling as we squished together towards one side or the other. If you were the unfortunate person to bear the brunt of the squish, you could always squish back on the next opposing curve. The best place to be was in the middle, cozily sandwiched between the two squish-initiators. There you could feel both of them leaning into you, all of you laughing together. There you could participate equally in every round, protected from the game's rough edges by the bolstering presence of siblings or friends.

Last week, on the eve of the winter solstice, a friend posted the following on Facebook: "Everyone in the northern hemisphere: We're headed into the turn, so lean to the inside and let's get this marble headed back toward yon star!" It was a delightful image: a game of corners on a cosmic scale.

There have been plenty of hard turns on our wild ride. A few months back, we found a wide spot in the road, pulled over to consider the view, and then invited two other pilgrims to share our ride. To clarify: we found ourselves two fine young farmhands, a young couple of hopeful farmers who need a place to test their agricultural aptitude. They moved in to our "spare" room (who needs an office, anyway?) shortly before Christmas. Within a few days they'd rolled up their sleeves and demonstrated their commitment by taking over afternoon chores and splitting a winter's worth of firewood. One of them headed into our woods to inventory local flora & fauna while the other lent a hand with pig-butchering.

Weary from the intensely public jobs they'd just escaped, they begged off the chance to help at the farmers' market, but made up for it by tending house, animals, and woodstove each time I trundled out. They also found some beautiful mushrooms in our woods and turned them into jewelry so we'd have additional goods to sell at the winter market. In a few days, we look forward to sitting down around the table together so we can plan a host of permaculture projects. They'll be able to draw on our hard-won wisdom and experience, and we'll be able to draw on their fresh ideas and energy. Now, my overall enthusiasm is a bit rusty--we've had a rough run, as I said--but I think I can safely say we're rather pleased, both by their presence and the accompanying possibilities!

After years of white-knuckled wheel-turning, it's a challenge to relax, but they're ready to help with the, laughing and leaning, around the corners we go!