My feet are sloshing in my boots wet soaked soggy My hands are cut scratched blistered bruised My brain is a knot worried confused unsure My lips are chapped dry burned cracked I slump into a camp chair cool evening breeze a robin song a river song nighthawks overhead What is all the anxiety about? Why all the worry? I breathe deep and relax for the first time all day in a world just a minute ago I was lost in.
Sometimes I am so far into a dream that I can’t tell that I am dreaming. Does that ever happen to you? Lately I realized that Kristin and I are deep into a dream, so deep that we have to stop ourselves and force lucid dreaming, otherwise we can’t recognize where we are.
Sometimes I can’t tell where dreams end and where “reality”, whatever that is, begins. Am I dream walking through the waking world or wake-walking through a dream world? And what difference is there really?
And sometimes, most times perhaps, it is impossible to tell where a dream really begins. Now I am talking about our so-called waking dreams, the intentions or foci of our lives, because our life these days is one such dream. We now have chickens, turkeys, rabbits, sheep, pigs, and cows.
What are we doing and where did this come from? When did each of us first want to be a farmer?
I posed this question to Kristin recently and she said that she has wanted to be a farmer or a rancher since she was a child, living at that time in either New Mexico or eastern Montana. Makes sense. For me, I can’t really remember but it probably goes back several generations to when my Great-Grandfather, Benson LaFever, farmed the rocky hillsides of Delaware County, New York. Someone in our family has to farm and carry on, right?
What I do remember is being in graduate school with Kristin (studying Wildlife Science) and a seed being planted by a local organic farmer (Farmer Brad) and his young family that inspired me greatly, as well as Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
We were in graduate school 15 years ago or so and here we are realizing the dream of “The Old Home Place,” which is what we called our farmstead back then. It doesn’t have a new name yet and that one doesn’t seem to fit anymore, but the dream certainly does.
I hope to provide regular updates and more descriptions of what we are doing. For now, I apologize for not getting the word out sooner about our incursion into farming but then again, we may be too busy these days living the dream (too exhausted more like) to spend time on the computer!
David and Kristin LaFever
Sitting still in a forest meadow surrounded by fir and pine Blowing wind heard in the tree tops, first then felt on the skin of my neck and face Where does it come from? Where is it going? My dog lifts her nose sniffing intently I do the same with a small, feeble nose Catching nothing, understanding very little A thousand yellow heads Arnica nodding in rhythm with the wind as it passes through Passing through what? Passing through where? The wind suddenly stops bird song can be heard again I lift my ear to the sound, listening Intent on identification looking for subtleties in rhythm, tone, inflection, pitch Was that a vireo? Oh, a nuthatch but which one? As sudden as it stopped the wind returns, noisily obscuring bird song and discernment A thousand yellow heads nod in unison, in rhythm with the wind seeming to agree with what the wind says Let go and relax completely. You don't need to know everything.
by David LaFever
There is no path that goes all the way. Ancient words coming forth from Cold Mountain, from so very long ago, like echoes in a canyon. As I sit beneath an oddly bright gray sky a breeze softly lifts the pages of this journal while white-throated sparrows sing all around. Clear notes and buzzy trills. Meanwhile, high overhead a kestrel circles announcing its place in the world with a voice its own. Lik lik lik likliklik! Leaving no trace across the sky. What did Han Shan mean by no path goes all the way? And what is this kestrel’s no-trace? Is it possible for humans to leave no trace and to travel the no-path path? What about my desire to, in fact, leave a trace, to have a positive impact on the world and to leave my mark, something to be remembered by? Can I leave no trace and still be remembered? No-trace may be right for falcons but what about humans? These questions and others bounce around the canyons of my mind and heart echoes from the past, returning to the present. And suddenly, as if on the wind, Han Shan’s words come back. There is no path that goes all the way. Immediately I think, “ahh, yes, right.” We leave the trail behind and continue on a pathless journey creating no path as we go, leaving no trace. We make our way, alone and sometimes forlorn connected too and remembering that the reflections we see in cold clear lakes and in clouds are the true shape of our own face.
by David LaFever
What is the right way to live? A big question right off the bat. Anyone, absolutely anyone who says the right way to live is.... Can't be believed, shouldn't be. Just walk away from them, at an angle. This question is unanswerable leastwise in words and concepts, the boxes and drawers of language. But, and this is a big but, it must be lived breath by breath, step by step and strangely, word by word. We must speak, but not speak of it speaking around edges, the terra incognita of what it means to be human, living right here, right now. So we talk and we laugh, we cry and we howl, and all the other utterances a human can make. In whatever language, we understand deeply, not by the ear but rather through the heart. "And yet, and yet....," Issa said. A world of utterances is a world, not of answers as is falsely assumed but one of questions. The trick then is to ask more beautiful questions. So here we go -- Why is water wet? Why are my tears salty? Where does wind come from, and where does it go? What does it mean to be human? What is it? What is the right way to live, and what is the right way to die?
by David LaFever
Slow down and just breathe take a breath, in and out then take another breath in and out. Calming, connecting, timeless and right, right now. Slow down and just bow bow deep and low to the mountain, the river to the person in front of you. Gratifying, grateful, humble and right, right now. Slow down and just notice wonder, joyful and freely about the buttercup right at your feet and the clouds way up in the sky. Compassionate, kind, beautiful and right, right now. Slow down and just feel the body sitting here, still the mind moving and swaying like a fluttering aspen leaf. Feelings, perceptions, sensations right here, right now. Where else could I be?
By David LaFever
I lay back on the hard ground and pull a blanket of stars over my cold body. I shiver and then lay back, still. A warmth from deep within stirs, enlivens. I listen and hear the creaky voices of frogs singing a welcome song of spring. I look and see stars shooting across the sky and satellites and a lone plane blinking red in the inky black new-moon night. I take a deep breath and feel the earth move beneath me. I close my eyes, enveloped in an ancient knowledge unnoticeable most days, most lives unnoticed. I am, we are, going to be alright. Always have been, although we often don't think it. Always will be, only not in the ways we have been told to think. But yes, we are going to be alright. In the steady ways of a river. And the swirling ways of wind. In the sparkling ways of fire. And the dark ways of night. In the fleeting ways of dreams. And the mysterious ways of the universe. And in the deep, deep ways of the earth.
by David LaFever
An Imagined Letter from Corona to Humans
Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Stop. Just stop.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.
– Kristin Flyntz
“Praise the Rain” by Joy Harjo:
“Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk —
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity —
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep —
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap —
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food —
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down —
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all —
Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.”
Hello Friends and Family,
My heart is heavy today, filled with anxiety, worry, sorrow and the flutterings of other uncertainties. Living in Washington, although not in Seattle, we seem to be one of the coronavirus front lines in the U.S. There is plenty of exchange between our little valley and Seattle, however, which is a connection that we cannot deny or be too casual about these days. Today the Governor of Washington closed all schools until the end of April at the earliest. As people here dashed to stores to “prepare”, whatever that might mean, I stayed at home and tried to give my kids some semblance of a decent day. Feeling fear rising and falling in my body and mind, try to respond to their needs and not to the anxiety I was feeling nearly all day long today. I am reminded of the importance of being mindful, returning to the present, and the need to stay connected. For me it means connected with my body, connected with my loved ones and community, and with the natural world. These are the sources of well-being and ease, even if there is the possibility of connection bringing with it a shadowy side. We ARE connected whether or not we choose to believe it. This virus is surely showing us that.
It is said that you don’t choose your family and yet tonight as I was rubbing my daughter’s head in the darkness of bedtime, I realized that we CAN choose our family. We can choose them each and every morning when we arise. We can choose them each and every night when we bid them goodnight. Yes it is true that we do not choose the cards we are dealt in life and this virus is not something we are choosing either. So what do we do given this reality?
Do we choose to ignore? Do we choose to isolate? Do we choose to resent? Do we choose to let fear and anxiety drive us mad?
The poems that I am sharing through my blog say something about this. The first one is by Lynn Unger and was shared with me by a friend today. The timing was perfect and I will carry its message in my heart throughout the coming days, I hope. The second poem is one I wrote last night which speaks a little to greeting our shadowy side.
Light and darkness, shadows and sunshine are all always intermingling in this thing I can life, this shadow I call me, this sunshine I call you.
Please stay connected with one another, reach out your hearts even if you cannot reach out your hands. And don’t forget to wake up each day and choose to greet whatever comes with as much love and compassion as you can. I hope to do the same.