Paring Down

photo by Katie Spring

November has come with it’s falling leaves, pushing the urgency of winter readying upon me, which means planting and mulching the garlic, putting the garden to bed, closing in the farm store we’re building, gathering wood.  The north winds that blow over the land tug at the internal excess, too, loudly reminding me it’s time to strip down, let go, enter the sparse serenity of winter open and clear.

It happens every year, and still it feels like a bit of a crisis, this purging of all that does not serve me.  Paring down is both the struggle and the gift of entering winter.

If this is getting too ethereal, let me put it this way: running a farm, raising a toddler, and constructing a building while I do my best to carve out an hour in the morning to write has got me overloaded.  It’s time to let something go.

When I began this blog six years ago, it was a way to share my travels to New Zealand and Tasmania.  Over the years it’s evolved through different names and the different focuses of travel, farming, and family.  Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat ambiguous about the blog, unsure of what kind of space it wants to be, and so I’ve let that question ruminate as I work on other projects.

After a few months of chewing it over, I’ve decided to step away from this space to put my creative energy into those other projects I’m excited about.

I’ll post about them as they come more into being, and I’ll continue to link to published essays and guest blog posts on the Writing section of this site.  And every once in a while, a blog post may appear here again.

Thank you for reading all these years.  The encouragement and support I’ve received from so many of you makes my heart light.

With gratitude,

Katie

Summer on a plate, in a glass

BLT on lettuce

It happens every year with that first bite into a vine-ripened tomato, a splash of juice as my teeth pierce the skin, the subsequent slurping as the acidic fruity tang slides over my tastebuds, that I think this just needs some bacon.

Green Zebra is my favorite BLT variety, and I’ve often though it must have been bred to pair specifically with the fatty crispness of pork belly, the smokey maple-syrup sweetened decadence of bacon.  Unfortunately, we lost all but one green zebra in a late frost this spring, and amid the ripening red orbs, the green fruit sometimes eludes me on harvest days.

No matter, one can’t stop the pairing of fruit and meat as August turns toward ripeness.  I’ve found the joys of German Johnson, a tomato to rival Brandywine; It’s size trumps green zebra, with some slices as big as bread, and we eat BLTs open-faced on a bed of oak-leaf lettuce, crowning them with basil leaves and a dollop of chèvre.  Summer on a plate.

And then there is the glass–a tall one with muddled spearmint and blueberries, three ice cubes and a long pour of seltzer, or as I like to say, bubbly water.  At another time in my life I got excited about mojitos and gin and tonics, but these days its the clarity of cold water and herbs on a hot day that quenches my thirst.  Sometimes I get fancy with a squeeze of lime, or go the lemon-ginger-honey route, or steep strawberries and lemon balm in a quart jar for hours in the fridge.  Sometimes, I imagine the most refreshing thing in the world would be to steep in a cold mint bath, though the earthy scent of lake water does just as much to cool and revive.

Set the Table with Rabbit

My latest article in Vermont’s Local Banquet is all about rabbit–who’s raising it, how it’s done, the challenges and benefits of rabbit as a meat source.  
Silver Ridge Rabbitry: New Zealand Rabbit

I circulated the room with a tray of hors d’oeuvres, weaving through bridesmaids, groomsmen, and guests. The social hour was winding down, and by my fifth or sixth pass through the crowd, I knew who the vegetarians were—who to offer the stuffed mushrooms to, who to pass by with the pulled pork.

The pulled pork had gone fast, and as back up, the caterer I was working for that night provided pulled rabbit to take its place.

“What’s this?” guests asked.

When I answered, “Pulled rabbit with sweet potato,” hesitation came over their faces…

read the rest at Vermont’s Local Banquet.

Millennial Farmer: Perennial Dreams

I began writing a bi-weekly column called “Millennial Farmer” for the Burlington Free Press in January.  Here’s last Sunday’s article, about perennials and the roots of community:

For years I dreamed of perennials: raspberries and blueberries, an orchard of pears, plums and apples, slightly wild and sprawling flower gardens with curved pathways and benches to stop and sit and breathe it all in. It seems surreal now, as I witness spring unfurling for a third year on our land, that the rosebush is greening at the base of the stems, that the dicentra are flowering into their bleeding hearts, that the peonies are actually stretching up out of the soil.

Read the rest at Burlington Free Press online

Searching for Wildness

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

bark

I am searching for wildness,

proving it lives

among us

despite us.

Why do I walk slowly

in the woods, why

do I stop at the rhythmic beating

of a woodpecker, why

do I pause to take in the shape

of a leaf, or a paw print, or the

curve and drop of a stream?

Terry Tempest Williams wrote:

the degree of our awareness

is the degree of our aliveness.

I want to be alive.

If I am to live,

if my cells are to awaken

and if my breath is to expand

into my lungs

it will be because wildness

pulled me out of sleep,

splashed me with cold water,

and poured wind through

my hair, into my mouth,

deep into my body.

If I am to live

it will be because this world

also lives

tangled and pure, wildness running

through the veins.

For the Birds

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}
 
In Flight, Katie Spring
 
I used to care
about proper grammar–
well vs. good
I vs. me–
but now, what does it matter?
I know what you mean.
There are already
so many rules
what shackles need to be
on expression?
None!
Sometimes, when I hear
birdsong in the morning
it strikes me that I don’t know
what they are saying,
but I feel their happiness.
That’s all we’re really after,
isn’t it?
To share with each other
our heart’s fire
be it sadness, or anger,
or expounding joy.

Twenty-One Months

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

spring stream

Twenty-one months–

that’s all it took

to bring us to this moment.

And just as it delivered us here,

impermanence will take us away

to tomorrow.

Take These Eggs

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

eggs

Kindling sets flames to lick
the firebox
a cast iron skillet
takes the heat,
holds it in its open face,
and I crack the egg.
 
Just yesterday I threw compost
out to the chickens,
and the matted roots
of harvested pea shoots,
green stems sticking up
like stubble.
 
Somehow the earth
is thawing—melting
snow sets rivers running
through the field
and the chickens peck
emerging worms in the barnyard.
 
We all have creation inside us
 
The chickens, they take worms and compost,
turn it into muscle and eggs.
Me, I take these deep golden
yolks, thick and smooth, into my mouth
I turn them into muscle and milk
to feed my babe
and he, too grows:
 
supple skin stretches
over elongating bones
teeth cut through gums
even his voice
rises and shifts—
an audible, intangible
creation.
 
He does not know yet
of spring
how thin blades of grass cut
through winter’s kill
how green spreads like a wave
from the valley up this hillside,
how the lone call of the raven
is replaced by chickadees, robins, hermit thrush, and
the reverberating howl of the snipe.
 
He knows of the barnyard,
of chickens and eggs,
of warm milk.
He knows of cool mornings,
hot stoves.
 
And what do I know of creation?
Only that I cannot explain it,
though morning sun streams
through the window,
though steam rises slowly from my tea
though even in stillness
everything moves, pushing us into
transformation
 
 
(I originally posted this almost exactly a year ago, and this season pulled me back to the poem).

What My Life Is

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leavea link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

I can tell you I am a mother,

a farmer, a writer

but these definitions do not tell you

the quality of my breath

or depth of my laugh

or the hard pulse of my longings.

I’ve met challenges

in every phase, and for so long

I equated what I’m doing with

what my life is.

But the truth is

life is movement, energy–

rain falling to the earth

fire burning in the stove

bodies warming each other

beneath the blankets.

susnet over Dumpling Hill

Spring Peepers Rejoice!

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Last night spring peepers

sang, the pluck-pluck of their notes

rising into night

finally bridging

late winter to spring, each note

rejoicing in mud

frog in rice paddy, summer 2012
frog in rice paddy, summer 2012