Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Managing the Jump from Hyper Space

In two days I board the westbound Southwest Chief (train #3) and start a stretch of 54 days on the road, excepting four days straddling Thanksgiving. I'll be on the West Coast twice, and the East Coast twice. I'll see my son in Las Vegas & my daughter in Toledo, (two cities which have little in common other than being the residence of my children). I'll participate in the annual NASCO Institute in Ann Arbor MI, Nov 5-7, attend the fall FIC organizational meeting (at Mosaic Commons in Berlin MA, Nov 12-14), conduct Weekend III of the Mid-Atlantic Integrative Facilitation Training, and consult with four or five communities along the way. Whew!

While that's a gob of travel and a gong load of reports, the scary part is that this represents a slowing down of my current pace.

This is the busiest time of year at Sandhill, and the harvest continues into the fourth week. Some years, we can get it wrapped up in three weeks; this year it will take five. We've been lucky with the weather and a killing frost has stayed away long enough to allow this year's late-maturing sorghum cane to ripen. We'll have it all stripped and cut down in another 3-4 days, and the final cooking will probably happen next week.

I did my final tour of duty in the food processing kitchen this evening, making one last batch of tomatillo salsa and another gallon of lacto-fermented garlic and hot peppers. It should be ready to decant by the time I'm back for Thanksgiving. (After putting the fermented peppers through a blender, we style the result
"Rooster Sauce," in deference to the logo on the popular Huy Fong brand of sriracha, that our homemade product emulates.)

It's hard leaving the farm while there's still crops to bring in, but I have to make travel commitments well ahead of the weather, and nine years out of 10 we're done by Oct 21. This year is the exception. We're in the midst of fall glory right now. When I return, we'll regularly be drinking our morning coffee by the wood stove and winter will be knocking at the door. The daylight hours will be measurably shortened, commensurate with the sharply diminished workload of winter. In the next couple days I need to gather a load of firewood for Ma'ikwe, vote absentee in our county seat, and take care of a dozen other little things that are much easier dealt with in person at home.

I just have 44 hours left of my harvest regimen, where I juggle the happy frenzy of accelerated food processing on top of everything already on my plate—Sandhill meetings, time with my wife, domestic work, relationships at home, yoga,
product shipping, FIC administration, consulting logistics, writing, and personal correspondence. When I'm at home, everything is in play. After I board the train however, the first half of this list falls away and my routine shifts into a sequential intensity where I typically prepare for, deliver, and reflect on a single client each weekend. In the interstices I visit with friends, and even have time to read. Or look out the window as a rumble across the country, wondering what's being harvested in the lives of the people whose home I'm passing through. With apologies to Audrey Niffenegger, it's the Time Zone Traveler's Life.

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