Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Long View

I read a book on Swedish lifestyle recently, and how the Swedes value an unobstructed long view. The Swedes would love Quebec. We can view sunrises and sunsets from our house, so I guess we struck pay-dirt where "the long view" is concerned. I have named the window in the kitchen that overlooks the barn my "wide screen TV". People cannot fathom that we survive without cable, but there you have it, it can be done and we are living proof.

Grab a chair, pour yourself a tea, and check out what's on our very own reality show:

There's something different on every minute.

The Long View also applies to my philosophy. My yoga and meditation teachers (so that's what she does all day long...) remind us to be "in the present", but it's about the future, non? It's about where our work will take us, the pay-off, the ultimate goal.

Of course, this philosophy applies primarily to tasks and chores that are back-breaking and frustrating. Removing an old stone-lined road that meandered to nowhere was one of those recent projects where we had to look forward and remind ourselves that this chore, too, would end. We had to stop every few moments to watch the birds, pick up a frog, pet a cat or dog, and watch the sky.

This is how we came to spend a few weeks in the early spring (when the weather permitted) removing several tons of 1) gravel, 2) old waste concrete and 3) field stones which made up the bulk of the "stone road" as we came to call it. The gravel was segregated and is kept for future drainage projects; the waste concrete was hauled to our municipal dump by the tractor-bucket load and will be used around the municipality for shore-reclamation projects, since much of our municipality lies along the shore of the Saint-Lawrence river, and all remaining stones were piled up on one side of the barn for future projects, a stone fence, perhaps?

All said and done, I must confess to a pet peeve I have. Don't, and I mean DON'T ever bury concrete as a means of disposal. It will come back to haunt you, and if not you, then future generations. Do the responsible thing and GET RID OF IT!

The land this stone road meandered through has now been plowed, and will be planted next spring with wheat.

It's helpful to have neighbours with a huge inventory of farming equipment! Here our neighbour's son, quite possibly the coolest farmer around, showed up one evening with his aviator sunglasses and straw cowboy hat, and I immediately dubbed him the "urban farmer" for his innate fashion sense. When JL isn't helping milk cows, weld, repair electronics (just a handful of farm chores), he jams with his band. I just love country kids. There's not a lot they can't do. Eric rode in the cab with JL, and somehow I got stuck with the task of removing remaining rocks as they were churned up by the harrow. It wasn't all bad; when the job was done, we drove into town for an ice cream. (No, we didn't take the tractor).

As it was, with every torrential rain, more stone and concrete was exposed. We removed two more front-loader buckets with concrete and stone, and expect even more after next spring's plowing.

The barn swallows have taken their place in the barn again, and the babies have recently hatched. I found the tiny pinkie-fingernail-sized eggshells on the ground, mottled brown and white. I haven't done a head count, because I don't really want to know if one goes missing, albeit I do go into the barn and make sure no babies have fallen from the nest. Generally, there is always a cat or two on my tail, and I am sure they'd love a baby swallow as an appetizer. Hence, no head count.

Our corn was planted at the end of May, and by the first week in June, the first little rows of green appeared. The corn is now hip-high, and let's hope the weather cooperates some more.

When the hay gets cut and baled on our neighbouring fields, I am always praying that 1) the wind's not blowing in our general direction, and 2) if it is, I am home to close the windows before every surface in our house gets coated in dust.

These 2 little guys had the right idea: they had front row seats and were enthralled in watching the baler poop out bale after bale.

Have a wonderful summer, and remember, it's all about the Long View.

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