Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Clean Sweep

The short answer is yes: I can tear down the Farmer's Market booth, go home, unload and put away perishables, and be at work on time. It makes a long day, a full day, but a rich one.

Opening day started with snow (not sticking) and ended with glorious sunshine. Customers came as the morning wore on (we were starting to wonder, at first) and I sold nearly all the eggs I took. My spinning wheel went with me, and I finally finished the last 10 minutes of spinning work on the yarn that I was spinning on Closing Day last year. It was great to spin again, to show the process to kids and parents, to talk about the eggs and the farm. New faces, old faces, shivering, smiling, shaking our heads, ranting about the recent weather.

Coming home from driving the bus, doing chores, feeding the dogs, eating something, checking emails and messages...finally it's done and I'm half asleep on my feet.

But I pick up the broom, and begin to sweep the main rooms of the house, beginning in the livingroom and working towards the front door in the entry room, on the other side of the kitchen. Not because I have to (though it needs it) but because I want to be doing this contemplative task. It's a post-Canada habit.

It began in Sorrento, when I was volunteering on the kitchen staff of a church conference center. The last task of the night was always sweeping the floors. I looked forward to it because it meant everything was in order for the breakfast crew, and we were nearly done for the day.

When I started volunteering at the organic vegetable farm, I found myself restless in the evenings. It was a very different situation than the conference center. When I arrived, the floor hadn't been swept in awhile. 3 large dogs, +/- 5 people, and a couple cats were constantly tracking in dirt from the fields. Really, sweeping it seemed pointless. But I felt like doing it, so I did. It became a habit, but more than that, a meditation. It was partly about seeing how nice the rooms looked when swept, but mostly it was about simply the doing of it.

After a few days, Sue commented on the futility of my self-appointed task. By then I knew how to answer her: It was like the tide of the ocean. The dirt came in, the dirt went out. The dirt came back in again. By sweeping it out, I wasn't trying to fight the dirt--the winner was obvious from the start. Rather, I was dancing with the dirt in a long, slow dance like the tide of the ocean.
Dirt is a fact of life on the farm. It is the source from which I draw a portion of my existence. Without dirt, there would be no farm.

When I empty the dustpan, I pick out any man-made bits--rubber bands, bread bag tags, scraps of paper--and throw the rest of the sweepings (dirt and dog hair) onto the flower bed outside the front door, returning the farm to itself.

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