The Slower Things that the Country Brings

May 10, 2010


To ease what I am sure are uneasy minds, I should let you know that the garden is progressing nicely. We have corn, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, green beans, onions (red, yellow, and white), shallots, and sorghum in the ground. (Yes, sorghum—ask Caleb.) There haven’t been any ground hog sightings.

But I want to talk about something else.

I’ve been reflecting recently on our progress thus far in the Thomas Farm Project. A large part of our time on the farm is centered around food, both producing and consuming. We wanted to learn more about growing food and develop a hands-on understanding of what it means to be a part of a local food culture. I’ll never again feel the same about buying produce from a grocery store. Furthermore, we wanted to participate in work that we found more tangible. More tangible than one might normally find in, say, a graduate program. I’ve found a new satisfaction looking back over a garden bed recently cleared of weeds, and a sense of accomplishment watching our potatoes sprout large, healthy-looking leaves.

However, amidst all of the work going on out here (and during my normal 9–5 in Charlottesville), I have, until recently, largely lost sight of one of our other goals: living consciously. One aspect of this is thinking about what is important in my own day-to-day activities. It’s very easy for me to fall into patterns where I fill my days with doings—house chores, socially-sanctioned work (e.g., my job), emptying my e-mail inbox, and so on. While Whitney embraces time away from these kinds of activities, I tend to get agitated when I’m not doing things things I think I should be doing — it’s some kind of midwestern guilt.

Despite the endless potential for work around the farm, I’ve taken time recently to enjoy periods of silence and stillness. Resting on the front porch. Watching the chickens in their run. Walking through the garden. Long conversations around well-prepared meals. I’m reminded of a bit from an early Neil Young song, “Here We Are in the Years”:

What a pity
That the people from the city
Can’t relate to the slower things
That the country brings.

I’m not advocating laziness, but I am searching for a way to embrace slow, less directed moments. If I come out of this experience with a personal approach to my days more concerned with who I am and with my relationship with those around me, and less concerned with what I accomplish, I think the project will have been time well invested indeed.



Well said Matt.

Kristin Thomas Sancken — May 10, 2010

Love that perspective. Keep the posts coming. 🙂 When is Lucy going to write one?

Jana — May 10, 2010

I’ve been feeling the same way lately – guilty for reading a book solely for entertainment when I could instead be replying to emails or getting stuff done around the house. Your perspective on slowing down and recognizing life couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

Christopher Finke — May 10, 2010

“[B]ut I am searching for a way to embrace slow, less directed moments.”

Sounds like you’re doing it quite well. Take those moments for what they are, not what they should be.

AJ — May 11, 2010

That was a very nice reflection!

Erin Dalpini — May 19, 2010