I’ve planted tens of thousands of seeds in a scene that looks just like this, more times than I’d care to count this spring…
The thermostat seems stuck between 33 and 38 degrees. The sun is all but snuffed out. Even today, snowflakes have blown around amidst the apocalyptic-looking scene as if a nuclear winter were upon us. Those of us who failed to escape for spring break are bending beneath the weight of mild depression. Opening the shades in my grow space each day carries the feeling of reliving Groundhog’s Day again and again, as on many occasions the plants would receive more light if I left the shades pulled 24/7 (due to light reflecting off their white surface).
Nevertheless, a quick look back on this bleak month shows actual forward progress. Though the individual days feel like treading water in no clear direction, we are actually accomplishing something simply by showing up with what we have to offer each day, feeble or not.
For one thing, I completed our taxes. These were a doozy. I dreaded this task for at least six months…
The crew from our local PBS station came out to film the place for the show Great Gardening…
I was quite nervous about this, as one might expect, but I needn’t have been. It’s amazing how all that effort ends up being distilled into four or five minutes of footage in the end. In case you’re curious, I appear in the very beginning of the episode at the following link:
I prepared in advance by tidying up a serious mess involving my collection of vinyl records, and installing shelving and whatnot.
We’ve learned that media opportunities do not make or break your business, but they do kick you into gear by providing that impetus to get important details completed that otherwise might go undone indefinitely. Shawna was featured in the local newspaper some years back, for example. This prodded us into cleaning and painting the entire downstairs of our home. We’re still benefitting from this five years later!
The writer of that article, Christa Lawler, was among the many cool kids who got out of Dodge last week (bastards, all of you). I’ve been obsessed about this video she shared on her Instagram ever since, so she generously sent it to me to share:
At first it seems like just another gig for our young poet, and then you see the flash of a quick smile. That’s the spark! Whatever is happening at that moment in her beautiful brain is a one-of-a-kind gift to the world. Zoe Branch isn’t famous, but this intrepid person found a way to make a living in the most improbable way after moving clear across the country during a pandemic. A quick look at Lawler’s adorable daughter, who waits nervously, is a living picture of how Branch is touching lives simply by showing up with her talent. You can read some of her fascinating story about how she quit her job as a journalist in Tacoma and became a New York City street poet here on Medium. You can follow her on Instagram @flora.and.phrase where she also features handmade typewriter art. Who in the world thinks of such things? I’m smitten. Perhaps she’d be willing to come onto my mediocre podcast someday, which is one of the ways I’m attempting to show up even though my skills remain rather raw. Fingers crossed.
The world desperately needs you to show up with your unique passion and gifts. Perhaps you take these for granted. Please don’t. Whether or not you make a living from whatever lights you up, that spark inside of you should never be snuffed out. Keep fanning the flame, even if you’re quietly enduring a low-grade depression like me.
But wait, there’s more!
Now here’s a weird one, but I hope by sharing this story I’ll be able to collapse and recycle the now empty box:
Yes, a little beer (just one, thank you) is a welcome balm these days, but that’s not my point. I’ve never seen this brand before, and honestly, it’s nothing special. I bought it over two months ago, and it sat around for quite some time as I had to lay off the stuff for the sake of a fussy tummy. So, here’s where things get rather unusual.
These cans sat in our basement for 8 weeks or more, and then around the time I listened to Paulette Jiles’s excellent novel, News of the World, on audiobook, I began to consume them. Casually, I spun the can around in my hand to see “Spoetzl Brewery” noted on the side. “That sounds awfully German,” I thought. Long story short, this brewery was launched by the very same colony of German immigrants who figure somewhat prominently at the end of her book. Unable to obtain beer like they enjoyed at home, they banded together to create their own, and it’s still around well over a century later. I drank the fruits of their labor completely by chance, due to some random sale, at the very moment I was surprised to learn of their existence in southern Texas. Being from Wisconsin, not far from a place called Germantown and down the road from the site of the annual Franksville Kraut Festival, I don’t associate South Texas with German immigrants.
I shouldn’t even have been listening to News of the World at the time (which you can hear for free on the Libby app, by the way). It was an intermission, of sorts, in the middle of an epic 48-hour Stephen King story called The Stand, which continues to hold me enthralled. I only took the short break to hear Jiles’s six-hour story because my 15-week hold was finally over.
So, what the heck does this mean?
I have no idea, but I love it! And yes, I’m irrational enough to think that these random events were somehow orchestrated simply so I might enjoy the coincidence and then have great difficulty crushing that box and moving it out of here to make room for more miracles. Writing about such things is the only way I seem able to dispose of objects that have stewed around in sentimentality.
And what goes best with beer?
Just yesterday, my generous boy bought me a bowling ball for my birthday. The heavy rock set him back $130!
Lastly, I recently gassed up at my new favorite gas station (the one mentioned in my podcast about gas, hockey, and the American Dream), and pulled up next to this big fella:
I asked the driver if the truck was filled with worms. He said, “Yep.”
That’s a lot of worms! Imagine all the fish that’ll be caught by happy children, grown men, and women. People are being blessed because these folks are showing up and filling their niche.
Yesterday, during what I call a midweek top-up, I showed up at Mount Royal Fine Foods with two clamshells of spicy mix. They were out of this variety, and I figured, “What the heck,” even though I wasn’t invoicing for it. Sometimes I’ll question my sanity at moments like these.
And then I walked out of the produce room to stock them myself, where I was immediately greeted by a smiling customer. “Are those spicy mix?”
“Ooohh, those are my favorite!”
I gratefully handed half my meager supply over and told the friendly woman that they were just cut today. Special.
And that’s why I’m foolish enough to engage in all this nonsense.
Keep showing up!
P.S. – I almost forgot! I recently interviewed Becky Schlegel for my podcast. She’s someone who has been showing up with her beautiful singing voice for decade after decade, even though fame has eluded her. In the show notes of my podcast, searchable as Never Picked in your listening app of choice, I included the first of four episodes in which she appeared on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, way back in 1999. The entire episode is worth a listen. It’s like taking a time machine back to an earlier, far-less-complicated era. (Later on, I realized I could just add that Prairie Home Companion link here:
https://www.prairiehome.org/shows/57969.html (she comes on at 40 minutes and again at 1 hour 20)
And with that, now that it’s finally 33 degrees at 2 pm, I must get to planting this week’s batch of sunflower shoots (no joke).