Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What snagged on the sunflowers: a love letter.

Fields and fields of sunflowers stretch away from my arms, out from the steering wheel, green and yellow nodding heads. They all say yes to this drive I'm learning so well from San Francisco to Chico and back and back and back again. They line the road in numbers I've never seen, rows next to rows making squares of beauty growing, watching that blue sky, neverminding those clouds.

I speed by over and over with my aching back, stiff arms, restless legs, impatience growing. But also ideas and emotions. Like steam rising from a pond in early morning, but imagine it in motion, a mist of ideas and feelings streaming off my watery body as I move from home to home, snagging on sunflowers and catching in the beaks of those black curvy-billed birds I've been seeing the past few days.

This idea of coyotes in my mural, a vision from under the black oak on the hill looking down over the farm and the grinding rock there. Those brokenhearted family feelings of letting go and getting ready to fight, like a cat bunching her haunches. Images of my new home and the creek that runs through it, the black walnuts towering over the little red house and the whirlwind of energy and doing that is my new roommate. More feelings around the massacre of the Maidu at the farm, and how it's actually more than that: everywhere I've lived has been stolen from someone. Remembering the grinding stones beneath my mother's house. The spring next door to my apartment and the shell mounds on the edges of San Francisco. Everywhere I live has been stolen unfairly from someone and this mural is just the first time I've really realized it viscerally and felt like I personally am part of the thieving and the benefitting from the theft. This desire to do what seems most like the right thing in each situation, such an impossible task but still trying anyway just because that's the person I want to be and that's the world I want to live in. The simple plain joy of eating a purple black plum ripe in my mouth as I drive and leave my mists hanging in the sunflower fields.  

And always traveling with me there's the thought of you and all this love between us. I want to share each day each thought each affirmative sunflower face most of all with with you. So I am. Like this.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural: Part 1

I'm going to paint a mural!! On this big blank shipping container:

Let me tell you more. My friends Diane and Pat have a new farm, Foothill Roots Farm (the astute reader [you] may have guessed this from the title of this blog post). The farm is in Meadow Vista, near Auburn, east of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevadas.

I got to visit the farm a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty wonderful. Diane is an old friend of mine- she has been one of my mentors in life and I owe a lot of my skills to her. In college, she'd always take me climbing and telemark skiing and was patient with all of my fears. In fact, she's the person who convinced me to apply to Outward Bound, which ended up being the best job ever. Anyway, she's awesome.

Diane and her husband Pat have now mostly left the world of climbing and skiing and outdoor education and have gotten in to that other adrenaline junky sport: farming. For real. They interned somewhere or other and learned a bunch of stuff and now they've started this farm in Meadow Vista.

What's amazing to me is how much work they have done. They just signed the lease on the land like 9 months ago and they already have a CSA going and a farm stand on Thursdays (3-7pm if you want to go by and buy something delicious to support them!). It's hard for me to understand how two people have done all this.

They've put up fencing, put down drip tape, put up a green house, cleared brush and grass, planted, furrowed, seedlinged, transplanted, thinned, covered, uncovered, mulched, and other things that I don't know the words for.

They've got this old tractor from the '50s that they've converted to solar power somehow.

Pat says, "we've converted this old tractor to solar power somehow!".
Just kidding, that's not what he's actually saying.

The day I was out there helping, there were two other people helping. Diane told me that
was the most help they'd had at one time.
They've had some help, in the two days I was there people kept dropping by to check things out and a couple people came by to volunteer. Apparently, if I'm remembering correctly, this is the first farm ever in Meadow Vista. From what I could tell, the community seems real excited and supportive of them being there.

"Farm on!"
(I'm not kidding, they were climbers before they were farmers.)

The farm is on the old Simpson Ranch and has some interesting history, past and present, which I'm still looking in to. I will write about that in another blog post. I'll also talk about the materials I'm going to use, the process of painting a 27'x8' mural, and brace yoursefl, I'll probably be asking you for money in every blog post!

I'm happy to paint this mural so I can learn experientially how to paint murals, get some exposure as an artist, support my friends and a good cause, and all that good stuff. Other than personal satisfaction and exposure, I'm not getting paid and am paying for supplies from my own pockets. Contact me if you'd like to get involved or want to help out with things like time, materials and/or money. It would be nice to be able to recover some of the costs. I'll write more details on costs in another blog post as well.

Thanks for reading! I'm excited to share this project with you on my blog as it unfolds! Feel free to share it with people you know!