Too Much. Or Maybe Just Enough

June 8, 2011 § 7 Comments

It is that time of year when I invariably suffer from a sense of being overwhelmed. The days are longer now than at any other time of the year, and yet they still feel too short. Even awakening in the half light of 4:45 to trot from chore to chore is not enough; no matter how early I begin it, the day will end before I’m able to complete the tasks laid out before me. Move the pigs. Move the cows. Milk. Weed. Feed the chickens. Firewood. And then the call from our neighbor, telling us she’s mowed the big field and is ready for us come and put our hands on all that hay, to pull it off the baler and stack it into the lurching wagon and then to unload it into our barn and stack it all over again. Amidst all this, in fits and spurts, the paying work that makes it all possible. Or a walk with the boys in our woods, searching for something to eat: Mushrooms, nettles, wild cucumber. The boys have become devoted and skilled foragers.

Occasionally I struggle to maintain perspective, to remember that this is the life I have chosen, or perhaps has chosen me. Most days I know precisely why I do what I do. Or maybe not “know”; it’s not really an intellectual understanding, but something that pervades every facet of my being. Does that make our little farm a spiritual pursuit? I think that must be true, though I confess to being somewhat dim as to what defines spirituality. But there are also times when I feel the futility of our attempts to bring order to our lives, to live in a world where projects are completed on time. Or simply completed.

There comes a lull each summer, after the crops are planted, after the first round of weeds is thwarted, after the cows freshen and we are back into our milking routine, after the barn is full of sweet-smelling hay. It’s coming soon, in three weeks or maybe four. It comes just as the days begin to contract: The sun rising a little later and setting a few minutes earlier each day. My days will still be full and there will still be moments when my breath feels constricted by everything that needs to happen. But the spans between those moments, when each intake of air fills not just my lungs, but my whole body to the point where it feels as if I might levitate with the simple pleasure of it all, will be longer. And I will have the luxury of lingering in those moments, never more certain of my place in this world.

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§ 7 Responses to Too Much. Or Maybe Just Enough

  • [...] an extra chance at winning the pair of books, leave a comment on Ben’s blog, sharing something you’re personally doing, or a choice you’re making, in support of a [...]

  • Tina Burr says:

    Participating in the planting of seven gardens this year — five for food — vegetable, corn, root crops, fruit and herb, and two for joy — one of flowers, one down by the river in a peaceful spot. Yes, a little overwhelming, but so grateful for the space and the opportunity.

  • NH BOMAR says:

    It seems to me that putting in that kind of devoted effort into your farming day surely must be a spiritual pursuit (tho I am not entirely sure what defines “spirituality either). You make 4:45 AM starting of the work day, and racing around trying to get everything done, but never quite succeeding, sound like fun!
    PS: I’m not sure which I enjoy more: your stories or the pictures that accompany them – both are excellent!

  • Ruth says:

    I am a new reader of your blog, Ben, and love what I see! I hope to meet you on July 15 in Concord, NH! Thank you for your contributions to our growing understanding of where our nourishment comes from, as well as helping us all embrace our personal power of decision making in all matters agricultural.

  • Julie says:

    I am reminded of the quote on my Mary Azarian wood print, “When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” There is little that is more satisfying than coming in from one or several hours of honest work. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so eloquently.

  • Debbie says:

    A blogging friend of mine recently said, “When there’s dirt under my nails, I can see my edges.” That is precisely how I feel about tending to the earth, growing my own food, passing on this way of life to my child. It helps to define me and yes, I believe it is a spiritual undertaking. It feeds my soul. Love your blog, Ben.

  • Ben Hewitt says:


    I went to high school for a time with Mary’s boys: Ethan, Jesse, and Tim. All amazing musicians and artists.

    Debbie, thanks. I’m pretty sure I understand what your friend’s talking about.

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