Friday, June 15, 2007

Field of Truths, not Dreams

Writing this may be bad for business.

It's the second week in June, what should be the peak of lavender season. Our first two years saw this week with a field full of stems bursting with color, and for novice farmers, scarce understanding of how to go about bringing it all in. Those early seasons we saw long hours, days, and weeks with sickles in our hands, rubber bands around the arms of the wheelbarrow for containing our bundles, and a garage full of drying lavender.

We'd been lucky. Those first couple of years took mercy and gave us no problems to solve. Our first summer in the field never saw 100 degrees. In August. In Oklahoma. That's unheard of. But eighteen months ago in fall a severe drought began, and because we'd never had to water in the off season, we didn't irrigate. Many plants died, and the rest suffered.

This year eastern Oklahoma was hit with a brutal, sustained, mid-April freeze. Plants that had been rebounding from the drought were dealt another blow. Granted, there wasn't much we could have done about the cold.

So now we're again in mid-June, but only a small section of plants looks like a postcard. The rest just looks like life -- some good, some bad.

It's hard working as much as we do and not having a beautiful field for our efforts. We're full of doubt over what we might have done wrong, and full of insecurities over the other, larger lavender farm that has the festival. We know we wouldn't want a festival at our place with it looking as it does.

But this evening , after we surveyed our two half-acre plots we ended up by the few rows that do look spectacular and took a picture of ourselves with them, we were both saddened by some sense of failure, and still overwhelmed by the success of the whole venture. This is the best thing either of us has done, and although it's not what we'd imagined, what is? It's as real as it can be. There is no Disneyland perfection here, just hard work from a couple that loves what they do, and who have had their share of success and failure.

If the field were perfect we'd be thrilled. It's not, and we're reminded by our work that there's more truth when things don't go the way one hopes.

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