I couldn’t blog while doing that last project. I wrote a lot, kept observations, am looking at how to compile it all, but making public offerings while I was at it wasn’t something I could really do.
Today I read these words by Wendell Berry:
For many years, my walks have taken me down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather’s farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and I never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know, the greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth.
Inside the bucket are bits of the wild that has collected there over the years: leaves, rain, snow, nuts, droppings, insect, bird droppings, “perhaps a feather or two.”
This slow work of growth and death, gravity and decay, which is the chief work of the world, has by now produced in the bottom of the bucket several inches of black humus. I look into that bucket with fascination because I am a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts, and I recognize there is an artistry and a farming far superior to mine, or to that of any human.
Continuing later, he writes:
However small a landmark the old bucket is, it is not trivial. It is one of the signs by which I know my country and myself. And to me it is irresistibly suggestive in the way it collects leaves and other woodland sheddings as they fall through time. It collects stories, too, as they fall through time. It is irresistibly metaphorical. It is doing in a passive way what a human community must do actively and thoughtfully. A human community, too, must collect leaves and stories, and turn them to account. It must build soil, and build that memory of itself – in lore and story and song – that will be its culture. These kinds of accumulation, of local soil and local culture, are intimately related.
This last project was a lot of hard work. That ball of effort now sits in the landscape or bucket and says ‘metabolize me’. The best thing we did, I think, is to make it not easy.