“What’s going on with the Story Farm?” a friend asked the other day, reminding me yet again that the Story Farm exists not just in Eric and my imaginations, but also in the minds of so many friends, who seem to be even more determined than we are to make it a reality.
“It’s been on hold, I guess.” Really it depends on how you define the Story Farm. We haven’t sent out seed packets in months (sorry Cassandra… yours is coming), Soup and Bread has been lingering on our “to make happen” list, and we haven’t been planning any sort of farm-based collaborative storytelling parties… so what have we been doing, exactly?
Well, we’ve been making a home. In March, Eric and I packed up our cat, our loveseat, two bookshelves and way too many books, and drove away from Northern California, land of amber-colored light, and drop-dead-gorgeous hikes, and perfect lattes, and so many people who simply “get it.” Yep, we did that. We left there. When I close my eyes and think of California, I see the view of the Claremont Hotel we had from our street in Berkeley, that stately white building nestled in the hills, romantic and bathed in orange light. Every once in awhile I do miss California.
But today I sit on the front porch of our new home, seven blocks from the Mississippi, in Minneapolis. From here, I see perennials bursting forth from our front yard–right now the purple coneflowers are in bloom, and the maroon-colored lilies, and some sweet yellow flowers that I haven’t yet identified. I’ve probably spent a hundred hours in that yard already, digging out invasives, relocating perennials, shoveling mulch, planting perennials I’ve been gifted from friends and neighbors. We’ve got a heck of a lot of lawn here, but slowly we’ve been turning it into garden, and one day, our house will be nestled behind a messy tableau of mature plants, with nary a blade of grass in sight. To tell you that I love working in our garden would be a drastic understatement. Having a piece of the earth to tend, avidly and with love, has brought a peace and satisfaction to my life that I have been craving so long I’d forgotten what to call it. The garden gives me a place to learn simple natural truths– that each plant has its preferences and its quirks, that time is as essential to growing things as water and soil. My appetite for this kind of knowledge is insatiable.
Meanwhile, our little blue house is slowly turning into more than just a shelter. Our colorful belongings, in boxes for so long, have been finding their way onto shelves and windowsills. Drawings and photographs that just didn’t fit on the walls in our various apartments are getting the attention they deserve. Slowly, as we can afford to, we add furniture. We have a great futon in our second bedroom and guests are the whole purpose of this place, so please visit.
We got a dog recently. His name’s Wendell, and his sense of joy and abandon fills up every corner of this place. We chose Wendell over the other adorable shelter dogs because he was less interested in wrestling, and more interested in snuggling and licking our faces. Turns out he was just drugged up from his recent surgery, and he does in fact, have plenty of spunk in him. But in general he’s a floppy little guy who loves nothing more than to rest his chin on your leg, gaze upward, and be loved in a really simple way. Dogs just “get it,” don’t they?
I was walking Wendell a couple days ago, in the woods along the river, where I take him so I can feel pretend Huck Finn on a long river journey, and I was thinking about The Story Farm. We conceived of it originally as a physical place, which we still hope and plan to create in the next 5-7 years. In the nearer term, we’ve got lots of ideas about ways to integrate storytelling with community-building with food-growing. More on those soon. But since life gets busy, and since life is sometimes just as much about squeezing in trips to the grocery store as it is about making big plans, I hope to share here my thoughts on some of the less ambitious aspects of building that Farm. Things I’m learning about home, about building and fixing, about having neighbors, about taking a walk in the same place every day as the seasons change, about doing meaningful work, and finding purpose, and making a living, and being young and married and eager to learn. All of that, eventually, will grow the Story Farm, don’t you think?