the tao

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

taoHad a strong sense yesterday of the tao. Often elusive for me, yesterday had a distinct flavor, a wind blowing through the events of the day and I rode with it.

Gabe’s sick, a croupy respiratory bug. Now, Jon has to deal with this as a single parent. A sick kid and two working parents is hard, but a sick kid and two divorced working parents is harder.

Into Aurora yesterday at eight a.m. to pick Gabe up and bring him up here. It was daylight saving time, the next day, and I felt loggy, off, a mild buzzing in my head and stomach not quite settled. There’s only one route to Aurora from here, Hwy 285 which becomes Hampden Road in Denver. Hampden runs through southern Denver, four lane at points, six lanes at others, lots of businesses, especially past Interstate 25 headed east.

I’d waited until eight to leave to avoid rush hour. The tao of the day laughed. At about Swedish hospital traffic seemed to slow, slow, slow, then crawl. And, occasionally, stop. Three lanes of traffic clotted. And, the clot lasted. Usually, from Swedish Hospital to Colorado Avenue is about a three minute drive. Thirty minutes. A lot of it with plenty of time to read the warning label about the semi-fluid lubricant in tire bearings on the semi sitting next to me.

1514204365009It was jaggedy, edgy tao, putting up barriers, then releasing. Gabe had his own struggle with this tao. I was forty minutes late picking him up.

We drove back to the mountains in silence. My hearing aid battery died in Lakewood, about thirty minutes from home. Even with the hearing aid, the noisiness of the Rav4 makes hearing Gabe’s soft voice from the back seat impossible for me.

Once home Kate had to leave for a mani-pedi, so I remained in the house in case Gabe needed anything. He came with a cooler containing ginger ale and cheese.

I felt jangly, stomach still off. Reading the Third Plate kept my mind distracted, a positive barrier to temporary discomfort. This book has a lot to teach. Of the many key learnings so far, one that keeps coming back like a ruminant’s cud was a short encounter between Dan Barber, the author, and Wes Jackson, a hero of mine who runs the Land Institute in Kansas.

Stone Barns and Dan Barber's Blue Hill restaurant

Stone Barns and Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant

Dan had visited an organic farmer in upstate New York who “listened to the language of the soil,” reading soil health from the weeds that grew in his fields. This particular formulation, language of the soil, grabbed me because I had come to the same metaphor over my years of gardening in Andover. The soil speaks, tells you what it needs. You just have to see what you’re looking at. This farmer’s attention to that language resulted in an organic farm, growing mostly heirloom varieties of corn, wheat and other grains, intermixed with soil healing crops like spelt and clover.

After Dan told Wes about this farmer, he nodded. “Yes, Dan. He sounds like a great guy, but it won’t last.” Someone else, he went on, will buy the farm and all of the careful reading of the soil’s language will disappear. The chemical/industrial farming ethos will return. When Wes recognized Dan’s disappointment, he said to him, “What can I say? We live in a fallen world.”

tao3This anecdote has stuck with me, I think, because of the sale of our land in Andover. We did so much, worked hard at creating soils that would grow healthy, vibrant plants, but then we moved on.

It was the tao of Monday, a slow pulsing tao that put up obstacles, then took them down. It placed Gabe’s illness alongside a huge accident with ambulances and fire trucks, wreckers, clean up crews and three lanes of traffic forced down to one lane. It put Wes Jackson’s sigh alongside my sensitive stomach, alongside Kate’s beautiful nails, calming her and getting her ready for surgery next week. Rigel once again pushing her nose into us, pacing. An obstacle. Back on the metronidazole.

Riding with this tao I let the obstacles and their resolutions wash over me, not as frustrations (mostly), but as the way of this Monday. When the day was over, I was glad, especially glad to have been sensitive to the tao.