I celebrated this week’s birthday by clearing fence lines of fallen logs, underbrush, and the like, so that Jo can fix up the wires. This is an annual project of neighborliness, keeping the horses where they’re welcome, and restraining irresponsible hunters. We’ve got areas that were skipped in recent years due to illness and the many pressing needs on our plates. Working up in the beautiful woods is a delight this time of year. Lush greenery, mosses, ferns, wild flowers, fungi, birds, and trees fully leafed out. The raspberries are flowering! Not so hot, yet, and with this wet spring’s dampness, there’s plenty of shade and enough cool that sweat is only moderate.
A special joy comes with the memory of what was wrapping up with me two years ago. Walking thru swampy low parts of the valley and up & down hills with a chainsaw is excellent exercise. Legs, back and arms get plenty of work and a variety of movements. I’m grateful that I can do it for 3 hours at a crack without killing myself. While exhausting enough to require a full night’s sleep to recover, the strength has been available each day. Pretty good birthday gift! (And important for our hopes of managing all that needs doing here.)
The cherry on my cake was a gorgeous pile of well composted manure & straw that Jo & Doug B hauled up from the barn to the garden. It will provide enough garden soil food for next year. This year’s garden is bigger then ever and the soil is in great shape after last fall’s composting and mulching (with lots of input from the horses and Peter K’s labor). Doug & others (see last post) helped get the beds ready; I’ve had the privilege of planting them. Transplants are thriving and direct seeds are sprouting. Some breaks in the rain and a bit more sun would be nice, but no complaints with weather that reminds of Thailand. For us, at least, it beats last year’s drought. Anyway, complaining about weather strikes me as futile hubris and ingratitude.
Ajahn Buddhadasa liked to tease or mock his age every year. (His birthday was May 27th.) While I’ve been in more celebratory mode, I keep in mind the uncertainty of good health. A ripping chainsaw is an excellent reminder of how serious injury is always close at hand with power tools. Finding a deer-stand in our southwest corner and shot up cans are reminders of violence and death. And this week’s beauty wasn’t as apparent when heavy rains were water-logging the hillsides and washing out parts of the driveway. Breathers were also opportunities to investigate how the pleasures and unpleasantries of the senses are conditioned phenomena within a stream of experience and activity the owner of which cannot be found. All surrounded and permeated by the Dhamma of Nature.
Plans for the first hermitage are set. Building permit application will go in shortly. We’ll be digging post holes for the post & beam foundation any day now. Once that is done, Carlo will take over with the help of volunteers. Should be ready by end of summer.
Also, the design process for a guesthouse has taken further steps. We’re seeking professional help in designing the space effectively for meditators to cook, shower, launder, etc. w/ some comfort, along with a guestroom and office. This project will be a big challenge in many ways, including the cost and need to raise funds. However, once it happens, we have the basic infrastructure needed to host people the way we’d like and keep our sanity, too.
If anyone would like to help with these projects, please let us know.
And many thanks to folks who’ve been helping already. You’ll see more pictures of them on this Blog, once my arms stop aching 😉