My daddy always wanted a farm. We moved once a year from crumbled down house to 35 room condemned mansion to faceless suburban duplex as my father indulged in his need to fix-up the ultimate fixer-upper. In addition to being an architect who never built my father was a frustrated farmer who never farmed. Organic Gardener was always in the bathroom reading pile. There was often a pile of kitchen cuttings in a pile at the corner of various yards. Once, there was even a horse in a small corral, but there was never a garden.
After 14 schools and too many bedrooms I had enshrined my moving boxes with collage cutouts and acrylic glaze. I wouldn’t get to keep my best friend du jour, but that box would be getting used again in, oh, about nine months. Because of this rootless gypsy existence the idea of a farm took root in my fertile imagination. When I was little I would get up early, before anyone else, and pretend to feed sheep and cattle and horses. My love of “crops” had me save the poinsettias from Christmas and start plants from cuttings in cast off cottage cheese containers. I read Organic Gardening and dreamed of the perfect compost bin.
Because of the uncertainty of everything I cultivated certainty. I decided I would be an artist when I was four (like my mother and her mother). After going to a horse race with my exciting grandfather, I decided to be a writer just like him (a profession I equated with wearing a fedora, smoking cigars and being dashing). At nine I decided I would save the world one broken heart at a time by listening and growing in wisdom. Over the many years that were to follow, these three decisions were my roots, the crops I cultivated.
As I grew it was frustrating to me how much I was like my father, how restless and in need of adventure. I wrote almost daily from the time I was 13 yet rarely published. I drew and painted and sculpted yet rarely showed my evolving works. Only wisdom seemed to keep up with my gypsy nature. Wisdom, after all, doesn’t need a studio, brushes, paper, a publisher. All wisdom needs is attention.
Eventually, as I matured (and oh, how long that has taken), I began to realize that my original childhood dream of having a farm was the very thing I needed to fulfill my dreams as an artist and writer: I needed to stop moving. I needed to stop adventuring and expanding. I needed to settle down and plant. I needed to tie myself to the cycles of earth and season and time and cultivate my crops.
And so, one day, I thought, “Being a writer and an artist is much more about farming than about traveling. I believe I will stay somewhere.” I went back to college in my 40’s more to tie me to something than to get a degree, though a degree in writing did help me to cultivate my writing crop. I rented a studio on Sante Fe in Denver where I painted the big colorful oil paintings I’d long dreamed about completing. I had several shows, one a year, and then two. I did art fairs where, once, I sold everything I’d brought.
But, I couldn’t help myself. My free spirit called me to leave my two bedroom apartment in Denver, to uproot and fly free of everything and try out the ultimate adventure: love. This required a move to the high desert of West Texas. Love did not work out but West Texas sure did. About a month ago I realized all my boxes are unpacked (I still have the collaged and battered copy paper boxes from my earlier lives) and I saw that I had a yard, an art table, and a laptop on a desk.
My Be Farm is ready and waiting for me to begin.