Renouncing the Fruits

I can feel the cool mornings waning… I’ll miss them when they go. I used to absolutely hate the cold until I trained myself to love it (mindfulness can do anything) and now it’s my favorite to bundle up against the chill and feel a sharp wind on my cheeks while I work and warm up from the inside.

Last fall I planted a few hundred delphiniums into these rows. A big portion of the transplants didn’t make it, so last week I did it again.

Farming is humbling like that.

I’m grateful for the reminder that what happens isn’t up to me—that my hours of labor might be for nothing. Because the work might be for nothing, I have an obligation to be present with the labor itself and to enjoy that, because the labor itself will become the sum of my life.

The results—whether or not the transplants ultimately survive—don’t belong to me. The act of planting today does. I have an obligation to fully live these moments, all of them, regardless of what might happen and even when I am uncomfortable, because these moments are everything I have.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna instructs Arjuna (the warrior hero of the myth) to “renounce the fruits” of his actions. From Chapter 5:

One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced… Though always working, such a man is never entangled… whereas a person who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.

When we plant, we might hope for a healthy crop as a reward for our hard work. But if we rest everything on the outcome—if we only plant for the hope of the reward and not for the joy of planting itself, we will suffer when at some inevitable point the plants are taken. 

Eventually everything is taken. 

I don’t see that as depressing anymore; I see it as an opportunity to celebrate what’s here right now.

On this day, what was “right here right now” was another few hundred delphinium plugs that needed planting. So I planted them, and I enjoyed the day, and maybe one day soon they’ll reward us with blooms—or not. 

Color Therapy

I wore black in New York City—it’s what New Yorkers do. Thank goodness I left the city! Color is pure therapy, and the farm is heaven right now. The ranunculus and anemones are really coming on. 

We harvested and bunched bouquets for Clara’s roadside stand (and weeded and weeded and weeded). Clara dug into her freezers at the end of the day and sent us home with care packages of goodies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nothing makes me feel wealthier than good food and flowers. 

Back to My Roots

I come from a family of artists—my mom and her sister had a textile business in NYC in the 80s; my dad spent 10 years with the National Gallery; and both of my grandparents on my mom’s side were full-time painters. 

My mom earned her income as an artist when I was growing up, and our house always had a good stash of supplies. We weren’t allowed to watch TV on weeknights, so I drew and made dioramas and accessories for my model horses instead. I loved things in miniature, and I remember sculpting tiny high heels and bowls of spaghetti and meatballs out of clay for fun.

A few months ago I took a jewelry making class at our local arts center. We spent the afternoon shaping, hammering, and polishing silver rings. I left with my heart and head in the clouds, filled up with joy and the feeling of being myself. What an amazing thing! There had been no ring that morning, and then there was a faceted, glinting, delicate object on my finger and it was absolutely beautiful.

I have this lifelong fascination with creation. It’s the thread that binds art, farming, and Spirit for me. I want to live out that fascination, so I spent my paycheck on a small kit of silversmithing tools and have been hammering away into the evening after dinner. I practice being a beginner, I forgive myself for chipped stones and imperfect designs, and I make for the sake of making.

It’s good to be home.

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