After a winter and spring which included a pleasant variety of memorable musical events, a handful of speaking engagements, and completion of the two recording projects that I’ve written about previously, I’m home for summer, and happy at the prospect of living on a routine similar to the one that I enjoyed last year. Plans are to spend mornings in the studio and afternoons around the property, a formula that should be a nice blend of mental/physical and indoors/outdoors. I don’t have anything particular in mind for the studio time but might do something similar to last year, maybe writing and recording a handful of new songs that we can post one-a-day on the blog in August. As far as the outdoor stuff, I’ve got a list of projects that I hope to get done while I’m home – build a chicken coop, build a shed for firewood, convert the barn into a tractor/tool depot (a job I’ll do with brother Gary), and, all the while, tend to the garden and other odds and ends that are sure to pop up while I’m home.
There have already been a number of small welcomes to my homestay –bluebird houses full of babies, good growth in the garden (i made 5 squash casseroles yesterday, to put in the freezer, from yellow squash and zucchini I’ve picked in the past couple of days), a stack of books that I’ve been wanting to read, a baseball hat full of strawberries for breakfast (from the hundred plants I planted last November), beehives that are healthy and filling up with honey, and even the discovery that I’ll not be able to use the grill until a nest of injudicious wrens have hatched and fledged their little ones (i didn’t have the heart to evict them after all the work they’d done in building their nest). As small as these things are, they add up — at least to me they do — to days full of richness and reason to keep my eyes open. (My niece Aron accuses me of ‘getting all Wendell Berry these days’. Worse things could happen; I could be ‘getting all American Idol’ or something.)
True to the adage that ‘birds of a feather flock together,’ I’ve found myself in conversation with a number of locals who hobby garden and/or enjoy home projects on their acreage. It’s amazing how much good dialog can be generated among people who are trying to find the best blackberry to grow in our area, or which sort of trellis works well for pole beans, or how and when to prune peach trees. In the course of those conversations, I’ve been introduced to some good reading too, most notably a Sears catalog sized book called Country Wisdom and Know-How, Everything You Need to Know to Live Off the Land. It is published by Storey Books and claims to offer “8167 useful skills and step-by-step instructions” for everything from attracting hummingbirds, to putting up stone walls and concocting elixirs and remedies. So far, I have about 8165 skills to go. … Even if you’re not into rural life or urban gardening, it is an amazing body of practical knowledge and one that I enjoy thumbing through even if I’m not in need of particular information. Growing up with a fairly good academic background but not much practical skill, I find myself fascinated by and grateful for people who know how to grow, build, and fix things, people like Bobby Joe Baxley whose tool bag and common sense have served so many folk in this community.
That said … it’s summer. I’m home and recently 54. Life is good. I am thankful. And I hope you’re well and learning more and more to love the right things. Thanks for visiting. Might all your hats be full.