Pushing Up Pansies

I returned to the Free Farm Stand this week andthough I enjoy getting away I also enjoy the scene we have going. It was one of the loveliest Stands in a while, with our Hecka Local table glowing with a beautiful display of different summer squashes, handsome runner beans and bush beans, and such tasty looking greens. The produce came from a few gardens nearby and our free farm near city hall and the Western Addition. The real high for me were the flowers on the table, including roses from Mike’s garden and small bouquets brought by our friends Pam and David (they also brought a nice selection of edibles). I love giving out flowers. There are a lot growing in the gardens I work in and I never seem to get it together to pick them and make bouquets, but when we have them they make people smile. Actually in all fairness the vegetables make people smile too.
The summer abundance has inspired a county fair like affair at the bread table, with every week different people besides Mike bringing in samples of their pickles and jams. This week there were two rhubarb jams with rhubarb and fruit from the following week…one with ginger and the other with peaches. Also there were homemade pickles.
Our clean-up crew
While I was gone someone sent me an email saying that the Free Farm Stand was a winner of the Bay Guardian Best of the Bay 2011 award… best Neighborhood Nom Nom: http://www.sfbg.com/specials/best-bay-2011-editors-picks-city-living.  What they wrote is a bit exaggerated and you will have to look up the word Nom Nom to try to figure out what we are supposed to be, but I am happy that we continue to inspire.  I also hope that the inspiration leads to action and that more people help us grow food to share with those in need. I am also looking for at least one reliable volunteer that can drive and help pick up produce for the stand on Saturday afternoons. I am trying to step back a little from the stand  and pass the baton to another generation doers.
Talking about inspiration, two friends of mine died just recently that were big inspirations in my life. One was Peter Berg who founded Planet Drum and among other things helped form the Diggers in the sixties. I can’t really put it in words how much the diggers inspired me and lead me to the work I am doing today.  Peter and Judy’s (his life-partner) work has been such a gift to us all and I feel so grateful for all they have done. Here is an article in the Chronicle from 2007 with  Peter and Judy:http://articles.sfgate.com/2007-05-20/news/17246325_1_diggers-guerrilla-theater-peter-berg. Or one can go to these websites to get further inspiration: http://www.diggers.org/top_entry.htm or http://www.planetdrum.org/ Finally, here is a sweet write up about Peter: http://environmentalheadlines.com/ct/2011/08/03/obituary-peter-berg-oct-1-1937-july-28-2011/.
Last week Richard Purcell, the Franciscan priest/friar whom I had been helping take care for three years died from ALS. I was really happy that he was at last liberated from this terrible disease which had immobilized him and required 24 hour care the last year of his life.  He was a man devoted to service and compassionate care for the sick and homeless. I remember feeling so appreciative that he took he took in my friend Honza who was homeless and dying of Aids a number of years ago.  Richard was a person who was so full of life and that is why I think it took him longer than usual to die from ALS. He also taught me people don’t die, that it is just a matter of transition and transformation. Here is an obituary from the Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/07/MNPURCELLR080740.DTL. 

Richard was put in a cardboard coffin that he had painted with his designs and catchy slogans.
Here is something I wrote while I was away last week:
I sat in a beautiful alpine meadow in silence
everything fell away
I am a flower
in this meadow
one of the millions here that make up a palette of colors
my story seems so insignificant
as are words
it is true there are sounds and communication in the air
busyness everywhere
bumble bees that look different than the ones in California
and flies don’t ever seem still
I can’t barely even look at them
as they move from flower to flower
a constant hum of activity in the air
growing and dying
the frost and snow has just left but will return soon
here the growth cycle is furious and hurried
like the flying bees
as the sun rays beat down hot for a brief while
under the soil is another story
so much life going down as well
the meadow is a complete and incomplete
universe or cosmos
I am aware of being just a speck of life
there is a deep mystery is all that I can call it
in this meadow cosmos
I am also sure that all life understands this mystery
I hear the the columbine flower, the flower of these Rockies,
ask the big questions
like, “say what is this all about?”
so much beauty is overwhelming
again life and death go on
or this question the flowers whisper
“what is my purpose for being?”
every rock and every life form
feels the connections
to this mystery
everything feels a loneliness
and a joy
reading Rilke yesterday
he wrote about returning from a journey
going from the country back to the city
into the chaos and the hammering noise
he longed to remember the mountains and the sky
I want to remember
the meadow
and how the city is the meadow
that I am sitting in now

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