Sunday, September 9, 2007

"O God Guide Me...."

"...Comfort me and protect me,
Help me to live in harmony with Your will."

A lovely spiritual chant shared with me at Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) more than a year ago. My theme song, today.

The Growing Growers market gardening apprenticeship program's September workshop on weeds, insects, and diseases of vegetables was held at East Wind Gardens at Drumm Farm in Lee Summit, MO, today. All day. Not my choice of how to spend my day off, with so much work to be done at the farm and so many willing, industrious hands there seeking my guidance. But I am bound and determined to complete the entire series of workshops this year. And I ALWAYS learn something worthwhile from them.

Getting there, though....Mapquest suggested a route via major highways through downtown KCMO; that seemed reasonable on a Sunday morning. Apparently Mapquest was not aware that the highway was closed. Barricades suddenly routed me off onto an exit, onto another highway...suddenly I have no idea where I am, where I am going, how to turn around, or anything, amidst 3 lanes of fast traffic with no map.

In the past, this would have been a panic situation for me. Now it's a prayer situation. A return to my traveling attitude of the past two years: "OK God, what do you have in mind THIS time?" and "It's an adventure!"

Several random exits and several miles later, I'm in Westport with no idea how to get back on course. A local at the gas station I finally find knows the way to a connecting road, but not the name or directions. So he acts as a pilot car and leads me through the complexities of non-grid streets and sets me on the right path. An hour late, I reach my destination. On the way, my path weaves in with several transit buses, close cousins if not outright siblings of the ones I drive.

At the workshop, touring the impressive garden, I spot a too-familiar plant lounging about on the compost pile: Japanese Hop Vine, a.k.a. "Vegetable Barbed Wire". In the slide show a short time earlier, no one else had recognized this plant, so I pointed it out. The host farmer had never seen it. "Must have come in with the composted chicken manure," she said. Composting does NOT kill every weed seed. This particular weed is astonishing. At the greenhouse I once worked at, it would routinely sprout in soil that had been steam sterilized.

The best time to control a weed on one's farm iswhen one sees the very first plant, before it set seeds. I risked the raking, rasping stems to find the base of the plant and pull it up. Clouds of choking pollen wafted from the malelower stalks. The female flower clusters, discretely tucked into the leave axils, boasted nearly-ripe seeds. I carried it to the dumpster and disposed of it.

For the return trip through KCMO, I spoke with several workshop attenders and got several answers. The one I chose to follow (being a path I'd taken before) turned out to feature a traffic jam (at 5:00 on Sunday afternoon?). Again, surely God has a purpose in this? Other than testing my temper? As I sat and waited, resisting the temptation to try to move into the lane that was moving SLIGHTLY, reminding myself that as long as I stayed in my lane any accident that ensued would be someone ELSE's fault...I realized that if Pam were home I could stop and pick up Toss on my way home.

"Sure, come on by, we're having friends over for dinner so we'll be here," Pam says. "How do I get to "here" from where I am?" I ask. "Where ARE you?" says Pam. "Somewhere east of downtown Kansas City that looks like a parking lot, but I think it's actually I-70."

She gave me verbal directions; I didn't dare let go the steering wheel enough to write while talking on the cell phone (which is terribly dangerous to begin with). I have a visual memory, not a verbal one. So 45 minutes later when I'm STILL driving northish on Hwy 73, wondering if I've missed the turn, I'm really doubting my memory. Again, somehow panic eludes me. I'll either find Pam's from this back way, or I'll end up in Nebraska. Another adventure. At least I don't have to be at work until after noon tomorrow. More miles, more twists and turns, it's weirddriving by the penitentiary in Leavenworth. I'll either find Pam's from this back way, or I'll end up in Nebraska. Another adventure. At least I don't have to be at work until after noon tomorrow. O God guide me....

A few minutes later, the promised junction appears, and soon I'm at Pam's.

One of the visiting friends turns out to be Sandy, the owner of Toss's son Tripper, the one that's apparently working his way towards national herding trials. What a delight to meet--again!-- this fabulous animal athlete who was born on my bed just over three years ago! I've not seen him since he was a 7 or 8 week old pup. Like Toss's other pups that I've known as adults, he's not just a smart dog and a great athlete, he's also got a great, friendly personality and great looks. In actions and build, he reminds me a lot of Scout, my parent's dog from Toss's first litter, and a full sister to Tripper (and Luna). Sandy says she'll send pictures, and I'll try to get one on the blog eventually.

Seeing Tripper, meeting Sandy, sharing a fabulous home-grown prime-rib barbecue with all the trimmings on the deck in the pleasant, insect-free evening: Yes, God guided me well today, right through my times of doubt and dismay.

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