Rhythms - October 31, 2021

 Rhythm - a pleasant word to say, and, for many, a rather unpleasant word to try and spell. But rhythm is all around us and, well, within us. Before we were born, our mother's heartbeat must have offered a soothing rhythmic backdrop as well as preparation for our solo journey to come - and the rhythm of our own heartbeat provides a constant companion to our days. Beyond anatomy, rhythm serves as significant guide and metaphor. Merriam-Webster offers one definition, out of many uses for this term:  movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements. It goes on to add helpfully : the rhythms of country life. And that's what brings us to this post. The rhythms of country life. As growers, we ultimately base our lives and livelihoods on the cycles of nature. These cycles follow a general but often unpredictable pattern. To dance with them, we must accept the rhythm - who could ask for anything more? We are reminded of a line fro

A Walk on the Beach

  Billy King is an optimist. And that's a wonderful quality to have, and for lucky folks to be around. But would you want an optimist reading a trail map? Well, only if you want an adventure! Billy, Emily and I were on the west coast of Michigan, looking to take a hike. The night before someone we met at our campsite told us about two possibilities for hiking: Van Buren State Park for the beach and dunes, and Pilgrim Haven Nature Preserve for woodland trails. Billy was a little ho-hum about a "boring walk on the beach", but we thought we would go first to Van Buren State Park first to see the lake, and then visit Pilgrim Haven for the real hiking trails. When we got down to the beach, Billy checked the GPS on his phone and announced that we could actually walk to Pilgrim Haven along the beach, and it would only take thirty-seven minutes! I admit that I looked at the phone and saw a number of little red dots that seemed to connect our present location with a spot designate

Musing and memories

Going down the rows, it's always a matter of life and death. Life, if we're planting. And if we're weeding - well, these weeds must die! So planting garlic on a beautiful fall day is a matter of life, but also a matter of faith. Like penitents of old, we crawl down the rows in service to our task. Heads down, each clove we gently push into the soft ground is a prayer of hope and survival. For those tiny cloves, planted in October, will barely sprout before the winter freeze arrives. They must hold that faint memory of life through the dark, still season. In spring, when air and soil temperatures conjoin to beckon the sprouts from their cold cradles, tiny green shoots will appear where frozen ground had recently been. By harvest time in July, a field of large lush fronds will wave in the breeze, ready to continue the cycle. So the garlic does have to "die" in order to be plucked from the growing ground, dried, and head toward our spaghetti sauce. But within eac

My road to Frog Holler, by Paul Burger

I graduated from Michigan State in 2010 with strong passions for local organic food, community development, and a healthy (or maybe unhealthy) fear of not making enough money in the career path that I would eventually be forced to choose. The looming decision often weighed on me heavily as my inner self struggled to put a value on working with my passions vs. working for a salary. Towards the end of my college career, I spent weeks toiling over the situation. After contracting shingles and likely straining many of my interpersonal relationships, I still felt as if I had not made any progress in terms of knowing what was right. I eventually decided that I would “sacrifice” a year in order to pursue work that I really loved before zeroing in on a more lucrative desk job. I was lucky enough to find a dream job in my hometown of Ann Arbor working for Avalon Housing in coordination with Growing Hope on gardening and nutrition education for low-income Ann Arbor residents. I loved my wo

May 7, 2013

Someone Digging in the Ground    by Jalaluddin Rumi An eye is meant to see things. The soul is here for its own joy. A head has one use: For loving a true love. Legs: To run after. Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind, for learning what men have done and tried to do. Mysteries are not to be solved. The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why. A lover is always accused of something. But when he finds his love, whatever was lost in the looking comes back completely changed. On the way to Mecca, many dangers: Thieves, the blowing sand, only camel's milk to drink. Still, each pilgrim kisses the black stone there with pure longing, feeling in the surface the taste of the lips he wants. This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up,  while the real work is done outside by someone digging in the ground. Ken King, founder of Frog Holler Farm, made his transition four years ago today. It was a beautiful bloom-filled day on May, just like today. Ke

May 7, 2012

Repotting by Lynne Sharon Schwartz The healthy plant outgrows its pot the way a healthy child outgrows its clothes. Don't let it suffer constriction. Spread the Sports or Business section of the New York Times on the dining room table. Find a clay pot big enough for fresh growth. In the bottom place pebbles and shards from a broken pot for drainage. Add handfuls of moist black potting soil, digging your hands deep in the bag, rooting so the soil gets under your fingernails. Using a small spade or butter knife, ease the plant out of its old pot with extreme care so as not to disturb its wiry roots. The plant is naked, suspended from your hand like a newborn, roots and clinging soil exposed. Treat it gently. Settle it into the center of the new pot, adding soil on the sides for support—who isn't shaky, moving into a new home ? Pack more soil around the plant, tapping it down till you almost rea

Pre Spring

First trays planted in the greenhouse... and so it begins.   Good friend, neighbor and writer Tom Hines describes the start of a cycle at Frog Holler he has witnessed many times.  Pre Spring                 The boys won’t say much.   They’ll build a wood fire in the green house and plant seeds.   They’ll keep it warm enough over night and water it in the day.   They’ll bring in wood to make heat in the blower stove and try to limit use of propane fuel.   They’ll bring in wood for the boiler which warms water circulating through the thick concrete table top which warms soil trays of planted seeds.   They won’t look at the gauges, they’ll feel the warming concrete table and put a finger in the soil and look at the sprouting green.    They’ll mix soil, maybe some well aged compost and manure , maybe some swamp muck mixed with store-bought soil from the Amish two states away, soil always old and new, a learning blend, rich and lush, filled with hope and new life.