Thursday, May 19, 2016

He Convinced Me To Quit My Job

Guy Clark died this week, and I'm a little surprised by the impact his passing has had on me.  I'm ashamed to say that Guy hadn't really been on my radar until just a few years ago.  Sure, I was aware of the name -- one of those amorphous identities floating around out there in my musical solar system -- but I couldn't have named a song to his credit. It would be decades before I learned that it was his pen behind songs that others made famous -- songs that I had banged out on my high school guitar and belted out along with the radio.  “L.A. Freeway.”  “Desperadoes Waiting For a Train.”  And more than a few others.

Fifteen years my senior, born and raised in Monahans -- the same general west Texas vicinity as my own formative years -- he eventually made his way to Nashville where he set down residential and musical roots. There he labored away, a few steps away from the spotlight but hardly in obscurity.  A musical craftsman, those who knew what they were doing with a guitar and a song recognized in him a songwriting depth and mastery that inspired respect and admiration -- even reverence.

His birth into my consciousness didn't occur until late 2010, midwifed by satellite radio's more eclectic playlist that included, one day, a cover of a Guy Clark song.  As usual, though, I didn't know that until later.  New to me, but instantly compelling, I googled the song as soon as I could get close to the technology and thusly learned of its provenance.

“He’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith.
Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”

Perched as I was at the time on the window ledge of my own vocational unsettledness, the song became for me a kind of fortifying anthem stoking the courage to jump.  A few months later I had quit my job, we had bought an acreage and moved to the country to embark upon a journey -- a flight, really -- about which I knew absolutely nothing except that I had to be on it; a journey that took on the name “Taproot Garden.”

Now almost 5 years later, busily in the throes of sweating our way through the planting of cabbages and peppers and dozens of tomatoes, we are still, in the words of the song, “jumping off the garage, figuring what the heck” -- flying, like the song’s protagonist, because we don't know we can't.

I should have taken the time to write Guy to thank him for the inspiration.  As with so many of the fruits of procrastination, it's too late for that now, though he probably would have been as puzzled by my gratitude as I would have been awkward in extending it.

But I am grateful -- for “The Cape”, for “Homegrown Tomatoes” ( a song that has become another theme song around here), for the memory of driving around Vermont in 2013 listening to his newly released and ultimately last album “My Favorite Picture of You,” and all those other pieces of musical craftsmanship I am still discovering.

So, thanks Guy.  I didn't know you long and sad to say I haven't known you well, but somehow you managed to know me pretty well.  Thanks for tying that flour sack cape around my neck with the string of words that in many ways changed and still nudges my life:

Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”

I’ll do my best.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Scratching Out a Few "Grow" Prayers

Among the garden expansions imagined for this season is this one actually outside the garden.  Think of it as a generosity garden.  It's for the chickens, not for us.  

The general idea is to plant and cultivate areas within the chicken yard with consumables the chickens like and need to eat.  The immediate problem is protecting it.  After all, and at the risk of sounding redundant, the chickens like to eat it.  In fact, as a cursory glance around the denuded chicken yard confirms, the chickens not only like to eat, they aren't especially picky about the menu.  A little tilled up ground and some scattered seeds wouldn't stand a chance.  

That's where the cages come in.  The cages enable the chickens to eat whatever grows through the chicken wire, but prevents them from eating the growth down to the ground and into oblivion, inviting regrowth.  One of our wintertime construction projects, the four cages are built of 1X6 cedar boards, 8-feet long and 2-feet wide with a middle brace, covered with chicken wire.  Yesterday I tilled up and deep forked four commensurate plots around the south area of the chicken yard.  Today I leveled and smoothed the plots, planted seeds, and settled a cage on top of each and watered.  
Spinach and collards
Oregano, parsley and sage.  
And okra.  

I know, I know, okra seems like a curious choice.  The herbs boost immunity. The greens offer appealing nutrition.  But okra?  The truth is they probably couldn't care less. We will probably be the ones eating the green fingers, not the chickens. But okra bushes are quite impressive, and I figure the girls will appreciate the cover and the added pits of shade.  Once the plants are bumping up against the wire ceiling I suspect I will remove the cages and just let them grow -- assuming the girls aren't interested.  I will have to wait and see.

And if by summer’s end the project has reduced my feed bill, well, that wouldn't be a bad thing either.  In the meantime the four beds are planted and watered and covered.  Now, as with any kind of garden, let the "grow” prayers begin.