Sunday, July 10, 2011
Many of you already know this – my husband was laid off a little while ago. It's been a madhouse of re-adjustment since then - adapting schedules and needs, opening our minds and changing plans. Despite everything we have tried to be positive and grateful. We have so much to be thankful for, so many new opportunities to consider and an unbelievable support system. Job hunting is ever humbling and no need to add to that challenge. Though I am positive that my husband is talented, highly creative, and an asset to any organization the job of convincing others is not mine to do...
And so, as always, I have turned to a talent I have always had but often take for granted: industriousness. Some of the work has already been done and for that I am glad. Some is left to be done, and for that I am excited to be challenged. We were lucky, in some sense, that when faced with the blow to our budget we were not painfully impacted - we have worked diligently to reduce unnecessary spending and live within our means. Those crazy Luddite tendencies: turning off cable or switching to pre-paid cell phones, those eco-friendly choices - no paper towels or napkins and homemade laundry detergent - it all adds, or rather, subtracts from, the bottom line.
One of the first things I considered after re-working our budget was food. We are knee-deep in a plentiful season of beautiful food - a time I usually take to stock up for winter and preserve the freshest, closest, most delicious harvests. Living only a short distance from a set of cooperative organic farms couldn't be more ideal and so, relying on the community I have worked to know, I called a farmer I adore. I asked her, Meg, if there were more work shares available and explained why I was asking so late in the season. Ever true to form Meg not only opened her farm to us, she gave us a bit of relief and a re-affirmation of why I believe in knowing your neighbors, your farmer, and your community.
Friday came and my husband was out the door by 5:45 am, picking soft-neck garlic in the furthest fields. He came home sweaty, dirty, and happy. Happy. In a time when we are explicitly expected to be stressed. The physical labor balanced out the tedium of resumes and portfolio building and the man that came back to me was more whole. A little vitamin D, a kind gesture, a few hopeful opportunities on the horizon, a lot of dirt under the nails and some of the best broccoli I have ever eaten - this is what food, community and an open heart bring: completion in incomplete times.
Meg sent an email out asking for help from the community at large to finish the garlic harvest, and so I went. Not as early and with the hard-neck variety of garlic waiting. A slather of sunscreen, a full water bottle and a bike ride later I was out in the fields listening to trains go by and brushing dirt from the roots of plum speckled German garlic bulbs. I too am completed by this. The quietude and camaraderie, the conversation and stewardship; the opportunity.
To everything there is a balance. There are upsides to unemployment and we are working to cultivate the positive: to appreciate time together as a family, wearing sandals in summer, riding bikes and splashing in a pool for a break, making homemade meals and working farmed lands. The monetary helps but it is not what matters. Going forward with a new frame of mind, finding a career that fulfills as well as supports, that is important work in itself - for that we are grateful.