We are moving the vineyard into biodynamic agricultural production. Organic, with specific methods, using minerals and practices taught by Rudolf Steiner and others. The vineyard has been a real saving grace for me. By now we have had several freezes, the vines are no longer covered in leaves. But leaves there were this year! A beautiful canopy. Very few grapes, as the vines are not yet ready to produce. Early in the season we walked the rows, trimming off the baby clusters, helping the vines put more energy into root development. We hope for a small harvest next year, and more the following.
It is rather shocking to see, up close and personal, the cost of a glass of wine. Hours and hours of hard labor, whether the digging, the planting, the watering, the weed eating, the pruning, the tying, the trimming, the feeding. Oh, and the researching, the reading, the dreaming, the hoping, the crushing failures due to drought, bugs, floods, viruses and late freezes.
At some point this fall, I thought I would never operate a weed eater again. After weeks and weeks of constant weed whacking, I grew fed up with the noise, the vibration, the blisters, the bruises from flung rocks and pebbles. Things are finally manageable in the vineyard, I have a couple of large compost windrows working away, and decided to trim down the high mountain grasses the surround the vineyard and home of the owners. After a break, the work didn't annoy me. The noise and physical exertion took my mind off the worries of the world.
I will go back and do it again today, after working on compost preparations.
Today I am writing whatever comes to mind as a result of a challenge I received last night. I began to read a book I picked up from our local book store, Front Street Books, owned by my friend, Jean Hardy Pittman. It is my Christmas tradition to go and spend a pile of money on used books, new books, a journal or two, whatever strikes my fancy. I feel so happy to go in and use our funds in this local economy. Yes, I also order thing online, not a purist, but things feel better when I buy them from my friends. I saw the book Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett on the used shelves. I have read other pieces by Patchett. Her writing touches me. Lately I have been watching streaming tv to numb myself a bit at night. Or I will listen to audio books as I drift off to sleep or drive. You know, me and the dark days of winter.
Last night winter solstice came upon us. As I came home from work, I felt a stirring to welcome the dark as if I believed the light was surely going to return. I went for a jog walk around the golf course and park next to our home (first in months). I lifted my arms to the sky and said thank you for the many painful lessons of 2016. Damn. We had a lot of painful lessons. I said I would attempt to make good use of the education. But, please, could we have a break? As I lifted my arms to the dark sky, I offered out prayers of comfort and consolation to the many others whose lessons have been way more painful than ours. And attempted to share nourishing love and grace and hope to the world in pain.
When I got back to the house, I was tempted to set up my evening tv watching. Good tv, well written, poignant, truthful stories that bless me, but passive, numbing for sure. I decided that on this solstice, I would allow myself to be in the real moment. Then I remembered the bel canto book. I did a quick search on Ann Patchett on my phone (see how hard it is to loose myself from that electronic grip?!) to place it in chronology. One of her earlier books. And while searching, I came upon some of her advice to writers: "If you want to write, try this: Pick an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes a day, say, and work up as quickly as possible to a much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day."
That little challenge grabbed me. I felt a twinge of sadness for a moment, thinking that I used to think I was to be a writer. And how sad that I don't get to do what I thought I was made to do. And then, in a heartbeat, I thought to myself, why not? Who has a gun to my head telling me I can't sit down and write? Surely I can carve out some time typing, instead of scanning Facebook, the news, the weather, recipes, etc, etc.
So, I had one of the better sleeps I have had in weeks. I woke up rather refreshed, and was ready to get busy with tasks, when I saw the book, remembered the challenge.
I feel rusty, somewhat silly. But here I am. I remember myself when I write.
Today is December 21st, 2016. The twenty first birthday of my son, Patrick John Hillery. Conceived in Japan. Born in Austin, on a cool, clear day, at St. Davids. A few blocks from where he lives today, a student in his junior year, studying philosophy of politics. He loves to run, ride his motorcycle, explore, travel, learn, be in nature, be with his girlfriend, eat and cook good food, argue, debate, work hard. He is tender and strong and lovely. He is a bit of a procrastinator, but knows how to work a deadline!!! He was the best gift on our wedding anniversary those 21 years ago.
Today is December 21st, 2016. What would have been the twenty fifth anniversary of my wedding with Philip James Hillery, 1991, in Ft. Worth, Texas. We chose each other. We knew each other, the good, the bad, the ugly. We believed it was all worth it, the hard, the fun, the crazy, the broken. We were naive, but brave. And hopeful. Thankfully we had no idea how much it would cost, the making of a marriage, the growing of a family. Little did we know that after all that hard work, about the time we had a few years of good history beneath the belt, he would die. Really? All that counseling and learning how to love and live together using healthy communication? Seriously? So now, almost seven years with him gone, being single, dating, a long term relationship that ended up broken, dating here and there, now feeling quite, well, pretty much content with my single status, I think of who I am because of being married to that man on this date, 25 years ago. I have a clue what secure attachment is, thanks to that marriage. I know what it is like to be known, to be accepted, all of me, even the not so nice parts of me, thanks to decision to marry 25 years ago. I had a lot of crazy fun, exploring and travelling places we shouldn't have been able to afford to explore. I learned that money is convenient, but there are way more important things out there than financial security. Because of that day in time, I had a fan who believed I was something special, who believed there were things I could do that would change the world. He was crazy about supporting me to go and do what I needed to do, whether that meant running away from home for a few days to write, recharge, be still, or start a business feeding people, or homeschooling the kids, or whatever. And I like to think that he was pretty happy to have a fan who believed in him, too.
We truly experienced family as a result of that day in time. My children each know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what it is to be loved by their father. A gift not all get to receive, sadly.
I get a bit teary on this day. And tender-hearted. And filled with joy and memories, and delight.
I am now going to go to work. Tonight I will drink champagne, just as he and I used to do, as we celebrated each other. I will toast the giver of good things who miraculously brought me to that time in history. Our ignorance was a good thing. Sometimes I am sad I am so aware of the costs of good things. It just might keep me from taking those leaps that lead to riches and fame and glory! Like starting a vineyard, growing a good garden, getting married, having children. Or maybe not. I did move to Alpine and start a business here, verdad que si? And now look, Mom and Dad, living down the street, five minutes away, family dinners, hugs, and great gift, Daddy and I will sing our favorite, Oh Holy Night, in their church this Christmas Eve. My children will come around me, we will laugh and delight and bask in abundance.