Working with a knife

Yesterday I found myself writing for an intended audience. My thoughts were caught in quicksand. I always write with someone or many someones in mind, but I felt as though I might be too easily misunderstood and that my words would be carefully and individually examined. My writing went into the draft bag and is likely to remain there.


At night, I lay awake at times and consider aging, taxes, itches, and scampering sounds. Most nights I can drift off, even when I think I might not. Some nights I wake in the night charged with thought. By my side, my husband breathes. Some mornings he tells me he slept poorly, and I wonder if we were both awake at the same time.


This week we began stewarding the edge between our field and the woods where the geology changes from bony to steel. Along the edge, Japanese honeysuckle climbs multiflora rose. Beneath their vines forms is a gnarled architecture of dead stumps, and bent box elder, mulberry, black walnut, black cherry, and slippery elm. A mix of unkindly named trash trees and inhabitants tolerant of people and too many deer. Most of the trees had been cut again and again, resprouting contorted and weighed down by vines.

Jared ran the flail mower, growling, through the tangle. I went in with the chainsaw's spinning teeth. We freed the trees and selected the best stems to leave, cutting the rest. With such machines and noise, sacred harvest often loses to cold efficiency.

Still, we collected rose hips, and Beren with pure innocence pointed to each stem I might leave behind. "Momma, there's one," he said, gesturing towards a cluster of three rose hips, one nibbled, two perfect. "Ok, I'll get that, too," I replied adding it to my basket.

From the pruned black cherry, we took the best stems, leaving those girdled and deeply wrapped in honeysuckle. I considered leaving it all behind, but decided I'd make a syrup for gifts.

Back at the house, I debarked the wild cherry twigs and branches. I tried different methods until I settled on the first method. Behind me, Jared split firewood and Beren stacked. "I don't want to interrupt, but I found the peeler worked really well on the cherry last time," Jared quietly called.

I'd forgotten that. The peeler worked for me on this task, too. "Ok," I said returning to my work. Several branches later, I said, "I'm not ignoring your thoughts. I'm just enjoying being here. Just working with my knife."