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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Catch Is The Release.

It is the eve of my 45th birthday and even my mom asked me, well, what are you going to DO tomorrow? Isn't anyone taking you anywhere?

Like who? I ask. I don't tell anyone it's my birthday. You wouldn't know unless you read this in the next few minutes or keep an eye on that thing on the right hand side of Facebook that makes you look like you know what day it is. But for me birthdays are really personal days of inventory, reflection, course charting. I'm not a big celebration person. Shocking I know, as much as I love Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Whatevers.

But this seems kind of milestone worthy. A big fan of symbolism I can find analogy in nearly everything. I think that life is all about little signs and seeing if we're paying attention, there are messages everywhere.  But 40 was a big year and I moved here to the Hacienda in the month of May. It wasn't a Hacienda then, it was a creepy sorta nursing home looking thing that had concrete block walls and lots of little rooms and mint green paint. I fell in love with the land. And I wanted OUT of Atlanta. I sold the restaurant, packed Billy the Border Collie and all her arthritic pain into the moving truck and showed up in rural Georgia. She died a week later. I had a nervous break down for a year. Then I started over.

I don't know about you but I reflect on things but sometimes can't see where I've been. Like sitting on a train and saying, oh so this is the Rhone River Valley, we're definitely not in Paris anymore, but you can't quite conjure up all the stuff in between. I do five year spurts. I only remember the train stations. When I turned 30 I moved from NYC and opened my restaurant in Decatur, GA. When I was 35, I opened my second. When I was 40 I got out of the biz and started a farmette. Tomorrow I will be 45 and I'm kind of blown away that I don't flip out when I see rat snakes biting the bloody heads off their namesake anymore. I know that we don't take chickens to the vet. They get better or they die. I know how to kill them for food. Nurture them for the most nutritious egg. And I know that one cackle means I'm making an egg and one means the hawk is overhead. I have 60 chickens instead of 10. I will likely get 60 more before the summer is out. Many of you have reserved them to serve on your dinner table. I get this. I love this even.

So today when I was cleaning the coop and studying the worm density of my compost pile I was struck by something. It was exactly five years ago this week that I got the ashes of Billy the dog in the mail. I kept that blue tin in a box with her dog hair and collar on a shelf in a room I rarely go to. I dunno something just came over me and I had to march inside, get the can, go to my favorite tree (yes the one I talk to and make offerings to) and released those ashes. Back to the earth where she was most happy and I am too. Her hair released to make comfy nests for the birds who live here in droves. Her collar fastened around a limb and the blue tin now a handy vase for daisies in the crux. With my dog Brady, we bid freedom to old Billy and to the old me too. Why do we trap things? Why do we bury pain? Carry around such burden?

So remember where you've been, all the cool stuff you've accomplished (and if you haven't, um, get on with it) and let it all go. Don't leave anything on the shelf.