In today’s blog, I’ll be talking about how I find peace and quiet in the noisiest of places.
Brad and I just got back from a seven day stint at the farm. Spring at the farm is always ripe with activity, and not only from all of the birds that flock back into the trees and the other wildlife that starts to pop out of the woodwork (literally). We too are ready to rock and roll and do the thousands of jobs that lay dormant while the snow covered the ground.
One of the jobs that we deem mandatory is keeping the long grass down in high traffic areas around the farm. There are a few reasons for this:
- When the grass is long it is REALLY long, and literally soaks our pants up to the knees (in Brad’s case) and thighs (in my case). In the morning, when the dew is heavy on the fields, it’s easy to get drenched. We don’t just need rubber boots, we need hip waders.
- On heavily walked paths, the ground is quite uneven. If the grass is long, it’s more difficult to discern where divots are, which then lends one to having a twisted ankle from falling into a fantastic hole that Willow may have dug whilst hunting for mice or voles. The fields were also laden with old vehicles for some time in the past, and the weight of the vehicles slowly sunk the tires deep into the ground, leaving large gaps after said vehicles were removed.
- Short grass keeps the wood ticks at bay. In the Spring, the ticks are BAD. Eliminating long grass helps to keep those little buggers from clinging to our clothes and our pup’s fur.
So we have three large “fields” at the farm; one is rather sloped and takes you down to a stream. The second field is incredibly flat and slowly getting invaded by young trees (which we plan on getting rid of this year) and the third field slopes up, heading to the magnificent rock cliffs. We don’t normally mow the entire first field for the whole summer, but in the spring we give it all a complete mow. Basically what we do is chop the old growth from the year before so that it composts into the ground. It ensures that our fields are not coated with a weaved bed of layer upon layer of grass as well. (We had to hack through years and years of matted grass over years and years to get the first field to the point where it is today.) After we’ve done that preliminary mow, which takes all day on a riding mower, then we only mow trails after that.
We like to mow wide walking trails throughout the first field so that we can take Willow for evening strolls. We let large chunks of the field grow full of yellow trefoil weeds, clover, artist’s paint brush and other flowers which the bees LOVE! Those little buddies need as much help as they can, so we like to give them a good head start on any kind of flowering anything we can provide them in our pesticide free space.
As of late, we have also started meandering over the bridge into the second field to mow a trail around the perimeter as well. Last year, our friend Gabe mowed a circle right in the center of field two and wouldn’t you know it, Google Maps updated their photos of the area and it looks like there is an awesome crop circle on our property! hahaha
But why am I telling you all of this about our fields and mowing, you ask? Because it is absolutely one of my favourite things to do at the farm. It’s certainly not because I am jiggling around on the mower seat and thanking my ancestors for the extra fanny padding. It’s because, out in the open field, with the sun beating down on me or the wind blowing grass clippings into my dirt deviled hair I think of nothing.
I think of absolutely nothing.
Do you know what it’s like for someone like me to think of nothing? I ALWAYS have something on the go. Whether I am thinking about the art I want to create, or something that I would like to write, what I read on the news or on a Facebook feed, information I’m absorbing in courses I am taking or courses I am teaching, my family, my friends, my life….whatever it is, I am not thinking about it when I am jiggling around on my Cub Cadet lawn mowin’ tractor. My brain is plum dumb silent and it is pure relief.
Interestingly, as I talk about not thinking while mowing, I have actually thought about why I don’t think when I am mowing. How’s THAT for meta-cognition?! I believe the reason I don’t have one silly little thought in my head is because I have to be very alert to my surroundings. I have to watch that my mower does not fall into one of the holes that I mentioned earlier. I have to make sure that my mower is aligned with the last row so that I create even lines throughout the field. I have to work the mower around the many massive ant hills that we have in the first field, so it can be like riding in the Indy 500 at times, albeit a bit slower and without the helmet…or the fast car…or the audience. (Ok, It’s nothing like the Indy 500.) I am also watching the treeline to ensure I’m not getting any company from a bear or two. I’m genuinely absorbed in the moment and there’s no time to think of absolutely anything else.
A friend of mine saw a picture that I had posted of myself on Facebook. He commented on how relaxed my smile was and another friend mentioned how happy I seemed. I probably had just finished doing some lawn mowing where all of the pressures of the world are completely washed away. Or maybe all of that jiggling is jumbling my brains into complete silence. Either way, I’m happy to have found my zen in the most peculiar way.
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