*Names and identifying details have been altered to protect the innocent people who could sue me.

August 20, 2011

Monastery-Gram #3 - the hermitage

Dear all,

Here is the answer to the question, "Ok, but what exactly does a hermitage look like, anyway?"

(Short answer: it's a cabin.)

It's so basic a small cottage - bedroom, common area, kitchenette, bathroom - that photos of the over-all room came out kind of boring. Really, I use the hermitage for sleeping, showering, and reading (or whatever else it is you do when the midday heat just makes it too impossible to be out in the garden).

And as for my sister's follow-up question, "Ok, but why do you call it a hermitage, then?" I can only answer that localized terminology isn't unique to the religious life. Why is a kitchen on a ship not a kitchen but a galley, a scored point is a run in baseball but a goal in hockey, and the job I'll be starting next week is called "8th grade teacher" instead of "surrogate-parent-and-counselor"?

Much love,

August 19, 2011

Monastery-Gram #2 - the work

Dear all,

Sorry. I meant to get these up earlier, but ... (*see previous post, "there is a lot of work to do on a farm.")

It's something of a fallow year for the farm, but even the minimal rows are a never-ending mobius strip of weeding, watering, and weeding (again).

Oh, and chasing the turkeys out of the rows. That happens a lot too.

Lots of harvesting, sometimes even at the right time.

Who says zucchinis don't grow on trees?

The porch off the chapel has become the default spot for hanging things to dry. Oregano, tarragon, thyme, mint, and shallots, plus a lot of garlic (in close proximity to a lot of crosses and holy water = perfect place to ride out any imminent vampire attacks).

The house flower gardens need their share of love and attention. (Which, quite frankly, they don't always get. You know how I am about flowers.)

The ladies get checked a few times a day - water, feed, and eggs. (And sometimes I feed them the contents of the beetle trap. Which is probably the most exciting thing that's happened to them, ever. Each and every time.)

The babies are starting to figure this laying-thing out!

Though some of the details remain to be worked out. Three hens to a box might be a bit much, ladies.

What I don't have pictures of include helping to cook meals for 18 people (3-5 brothers, 1-2 interns, and assorted guests), doing basic upkeep of grounds and buildings, dodging the garter snakes that live in the main house gardens, moving irrigation hoses around, stripping poison ivy off rock walls (carefully, but unfortunately not carefully enough), mowing and weed-whacking, and spraying rows with biological pest-control to remove the leaf-miners, hornworms, potato bugs, lily beetles, and all kinds of other non-approved garden guests. Oh, and bees! (Those are approved guests.) I don't have any pictures of that because today's my first day helping with the bees. And let's be honest, I think I'm going to be a little bit too preoccupied with staying calm to take any pictures of it. But never fear, there are photos of other fascinating events to come ...

Stay tuned for next installment in the run-away-hit grams-blog play series: "How to Harvest a Rooster: A Play in Three Acts."

Much love,

August 4, 2011

Monastery-Gram #1 - the morning

Dear all,

Considering that:

a) there has been some interest, and much confusion, as to what exactly I'm doing as an intern at a monastic farm, and
b) I have not been visiting people much, owing more to the "intern" part than the "monastic" part, and
c) many of my friends and family do not have the ability to tease me - I mean, question me -- via facebook,

momentarily resurrecting the grams-blog seemed like a good idea. Some of these photos were taken in June, some in July, and a few in these early weeks of August. Except for the growth-and-development of the farm's flora and fauna, it doesn't really matter which photo was taken when. I've just sort of pieced it all together to look like one typical day on which I carried my camera around and never actually gotten any work done.**

Which would have been a bad idea because -- and if no one has ever told you this, let me be the first to explicitly state -- there is a lot of work. to do. on a farm.

(**Actually, there were so many photos that I split it up into a couple of posts. So here you have the morning: 5am-9am.)

The view out the front door of the hermitage, first thing in the morning.

Actually, this is really the first thing I see in the morning - our flock of wild turkeys, over 40 strong (7 adults and 30+ babies) pecking, rustling, and coo-ing their way past my windows. What do you call the noise a turkey makes? Cooing? Cackling? Clucking? Whatever. It's annoying, is what it is. (At 5 o'clock in the morning.)

The best commute I will ever enjoy.

Good morning, St. Francis.

Good morning, Duke.

Good morning, coffee.

I often bake in the mornings, but not usually bread for the Eucharist. That was just this once. (And I accidentally doubled the salt, so I probably won't get asked to bake it again.)

We have breakfast on our own, then do dinner (noontime) and supper (evening) together.

When guests are here, chapel services are 4 times a day. When guests are not here, we have chapel three times a day ... um, usually. (Sometimes only twice.)

After morning prayer and breakfast, the brothers have their chapter office, and then I join them for "rounds," to discuss the day's activities.

And then the work begins ...

Except that it doesn't really feel like "work." (Except for maybe the part where it takes me about twenty pulls to get the mower going.) At the end of the day I feel tired, yes, but also calm, and content, and sated. And very, very lucky to have this time, with this community, and in this place.

Much love, and more soon -