Transcending Work into Art

Alive soil feeds the soul as well as the body. Dead soil strips the soul spirit and the life force that it was intended to nurture. Terra (Earth) Vita (Life) fed my soul these past five days…


Spring green meadows, dotted with conifers, impossibly beautiful, rolled and undulated over the curvature of Mother Earth below me. More open land than construction, asphalt or man-made linear boxes that herald civilization. Circular, flowing soft lines – signs of life in movement, healthy, true and real – natural. This is the welcoming sight of southern Oregon.

Silence enveloped me as I walked through the woods and tall fresh, tender grass and hopped creeks as the warm May sun begged me to allow its rays to caress more of my bare skin.

Standing in the open barn, I attached wires to bee box frames for TerraVita Springs, Cousin Elise’s working farm, while listening to Bob Marley and Neal Young and looking down the fecund valley. There will be 30 hives, which means 300 frames that require a process of nails, staple gun and a tight wire that will support the honey, even in hot weather. I completed 25 frames and trained two interns to take over.

The chill of the morning mountain fog swirled around my ankles as I inoculated felled branches with Shitake mushrooms. First, pick off the lichen, scrape the bark so it’s nearly smooth, drill holes four inches apart, put in the spore (Night Velvet strain), pound it in with a mallet and cover with wax. I finished one out of the 100 to be completed.

A dream of a writer’s workshop here on this mountain bubbled to the surface. In my dream, creative wordsmiths will work in the farm in the mornings and write in the afternoon. The content and camaraderie would inform the writing. I don’t know if I’m pushing myself beyond my capabilities again – whether I will teach or simply hold space. But I know that I am drawn to honest manual labor and work with my hands to prepare food and medicine. My sweat will find rivulets for transmission in the written words as stories, poems and essays capture my relationship with self, others and nature. Swirling words transcending work into art.

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