Through poetry’s lens

Beautiful fall dinosaur kale!

The kids and I cuddle up to begin our school day today and opened with poetry, as we do most days. Right now we’re reading poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and today we read “The Rainy Day,” which says, “The day is cold, and dark, and dreary” etc.

And, yes, it was indeed! The kids remarked on how fitting the imagery was in the poem in relation to the world outside. In our case, we were not feeling depressed or down like the narrator, but nonetheless we felt a kinship because it felt very true that “Into each life some rain must fall”!

Poetry has a remarkable way of connecting with our lives, in big and small ways. Unlike a novel, or even an essay, which have room for multiple characters and story development — which may or may not resonate — poems paint pictures. Pictures of scenes, emotions, brief events. They are like distilled snapshots of life — no less deep for their brevity. I love this about poetry, how in just a few lines a poet can touch upon truths and experiences that help me more clearly see my own. And, perhaps more importantly, help put my perspective and experiences in the context of humanity and the wider world.

Interactions with and observations of the natural world have prompted some of the best poetry. One of our personal favorite poets is, of course, Wendell Berry the quintessential farmer poet from Kentucky. He famously wrote that “eating is an agricultural act,” and I would add that for Berry farming seems to be a poetical act! Being a poet and writer seems to have opened his senses to his experience of the land so that basic work becomes the inspiration for a bounty of poems. His experience with the land inspires him to see and write differently, and then we receive the gift of his poems, which inspire us readers to also see differently.

We’ve loved sharing favorite poems with you all over the years, both in newsletters and on the big chalkboard at pick-up. Our work out here is very physical and in that way quite straightforward. We work the soil. We plant seeds. We bunch kale. We wash bins. But, even though neither Casey or I are poets, like Berry, we experience more than just the soil and sun as we work. Harvest days have often felt like alchemy, as our hands reach into rows of plants and transform their sometimes scraggly growth into bins full of beautiful, clean vegetables for our community. There are countless moments that beg to be distilled.

I do my best to share some of those experiences in the long essay form, but I am so grateful to the work of poets who can take the profound and mundane moments of life and work alchemy of their own, to share with us all.

If you don’t currently include poetry as a regular part of your life, I encourage you to make room for it. Long ago, when we lived at Holden Village, we learned that poetry is really best appreciated read aloud with others. There, we were regulars at “Poetry, wine and chocolate” nights — a great tradition that begs to be repeated elsewhere. All you have to do is pile books of good poetry* around the room, serve some wine and chocolate, and take turns reading! Easiest party to host ever!

We haven’t hosted such parties of our own, but we do read poetry, both as part of the kids school routine and on special occasions. When Rusty was little, I even compiled a spiral notebook of my favorite seasonal poems that are suitable for reading before meals. That book also forms the basis of what I write on the chalkboard at CSA pick-up.

In closing, I want to share one of those poems, fitting for this moment in Autumn, by another of our favorite poets. As you read, think about how the poem changes what you feel. Think about how it provides an opportunity to pause, the see the autumn world a little differently. Think about how awesome poetry is!

Linger in Happiness
Mary Oliver

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear—but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

* Don’t know where to begin finding “Good Books of Poetry”? I recommend reading The Poetry of Presence: an Anthology of Mindfulness Poems. This is an amazing compilation of poems from many great poets. Start here, and you’ll begin to learn the names of poets you want to spend more time with going forward. Also, Oregon has produced many great poets: William Stafford (and his son Kim Stafford), Brian Doyle, Ursula LeGuin, and the very local Bethany Lee and Ellen Summerfield! I’ve also found some great books just browsing at the library in the poetry section!

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Upcoming dates: I wanted to remind you of important dates this fall … we’re getting close to the end of the season!

  • Thursday, November 21 — Our final CSA pick-up of the year! (Week 33!)
  • Tuesday, November 26 — Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest! (veggie list will be in final week’s newsletter and orders will need to be placed by Sunday evening)
  • Friday, December 20 — Winter Holiday Harvest & Open House! (veggie pick-up and Open House at storefront — we’ll email veggie list week ahead of time! We’ll have some treats at the storefront if folks want to linger and visit!)


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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples — More of the yummy Jonagold apples … even more different varieties yet to come this fall!
  • Pears
  • Fall salad mix — A colorful mix of cooler season greens: escarole, radicchio, arugula, and mizuna.
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Broccoli & cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Delicata winter squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Pie pumpkins
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