WB: Men Untrained to Comfort

image

This post goes out to my anonymous benefactor who surprised me with two camping plates, two bowls and two mugs. I’m not sure who gave them but I am incredibly thankful for them! Thank you!

————

From Leavings, 2010.

Men Untrained to Comfort

Jason Needly found his father, old Ab, at work
at the age of eighty in the topmost
tier of the barn. “Come down!” Jason called.
“You got no business up there at your age.”
And his father descended, not by a ladder,
there being none, but by inserting his fingers
into the cracks between boards and climbing
down the wall.

And when he was young
and some account and strong and knew
nothing of weariness, old man Milt Wright,
back in the days they called him “Steady,”
carried the rastus plow on his shoulder
up the high hill to his tobacco patch, so
when they got there his mule would be fresh,
unsweated, and ready to go.

Early Rowanberry,
for another, brought a steel-beam breaking plow
at the store in Port William and shouldered it
before the hardly-believing watchers, and carried it
the mile and a half home, down through the woods
along Sand Ripple.

“But the tiredest my daddy
ever got,” his son, Art, told me one day,
“was when he carried fifty rabbits and a big possum
in a sack on his back up onto the point yonder
and out the ridge to town to sell them at the store.”

“But why,” I asked, “didn’t he hitch a team
to the wagon and haul them up there by the road?”

“Well,” Art said, “we didn’t have but two
horses in them days, and we spared them
every way we could. A many a time I’ve seen
my daddy or grandpa jump off the wagon or sled
and take the end of a single tree beside a horse.”

– Wendell Berry

Advertisements

Introduction: Part 1 of 3ish

First of all, I would like to thank those of you who read the first posting. I would like to especially thank those of you who sent me a personalized message. I’m not sure if anybody can comment on my post or not… I know I have severely restricted access to my Facebook account for a myriad of reasons, though I would like to have some way to create discussion about my upcoming experiment… I’m trying to figure out how to proceed on this front and so I will keep you all posted on what I decide.

I’m excited and encouraged that people are curious about what I’m up too. Hopefully, as the upcoming year progresses, each of you will continue to check back, following along as I try to better learn how to live well in my place. I hope we can learn from each other.

In my third year at Lakehead, I took a course called Ecological Literacy. What a fantastic name for a course. Through this course, I was introduced to the idea of Place, a concept that still excites me whenever I think about it. Rest assured, I will explain this concept in much further detail in a future post. Through disciplines such as tracking, bird watching and foraging, I began to see the world around me in ways I had not previously seen. I was also introduced to the work of Mr. Wendell Berry. I will also go much further into him in a later post, though for my purposes today, I will provide a quick sketch.

Mr. Berry is a writer. Fiction, poetry and essays are his mediums and his messages include love and fidelity, stewardship and work, conversation and thought, and the power of fellowship, among others. Mr. Berry is living in a community in Kentucky, along the Ohio River, in which he can trace his family for several generations. This looks like it may continue, as his children and grandchildren also currently live there. Mr. Berry, though foremost a writer, is also a farmer. And he writes about farming extensively. Through his work, I began to become interested in perhaps pursuing agriculture as a possible career.

Around that time, I had the option of volunteering with some friends at a local farm. After spending a day there removing some old fencing, I began to realize that perhaps, this was something that I was really interested in. I began to work in agricultural settings. I worked with a historical farm in 2010. The summers of 2011 and 2012 saw me working with a local urban vegetable garden. This past summer I worked at yet another local vegetable farm, in a full-time capacity. Each step of the way, I realized, more and more, that this was something that I enjoyed doing. I enjoyed the feel of the dirt on my hands and under my fingernails. I enjoyed the honestly analytical questions that were required of me to be asked. I enjoyed the humility required by weather and pests and everything else that was outside of my control.

And I knew it was time to stop looking at agriculture as a fun way to spend a summer, and to start looking at it as a life’s vocation…