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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Maytown: Still. And Yet.

Maytown, the fantasy of a gigantic city-in-a-pasture, an Emerald City producing an endless stream of taxpayer dollars for Metro coffers, is up again before the Planning Commission, and soon before the City Council. There's a new traffic-study-of-the-old-traffic-study--you can read it on the Planning Commission site on underlines what we have been saying about the absurdity of putting a city in a pasture. Especially a pasture with essentially no roads going nearby.

Here's one response--send your own to

For more information:


There is an old saying amongst city planners—or there should be: Cities can only be built where people can get to them, and successful cities only happen where people already are.

The fantasy of a money-generating Maytown—currently accessible by canoe, helicopter, and a tiny road at the end of a 16-mile trip from downtown—is unraveling as folks look a little closer. The new traffic analysis says two bridges would be needed, and adds that no one has calculated the taxpayer costs of interstate expansion, new cloverleafs, road widening, and the extra bridge.

I also liked the one-bridge scenario with a “non-repeating event”—i.e. wreck, traffic jam, or barge running into bridge—forcing Maytown’s projected 40,000 workers to use tiny Old Hickory Boulevard to drive home. That’s one lane heading north the 5 miles to Highway 12. Parked bumper to bumper, this road would accommodate 1320 cars. You do the math—20 feet per car, 5280 feet per mile, 5 miles. Add a repeating event, such as George West on his old Farm-All tractor, or a deer bolting across the road, or a tree falling in an ice-storm. I think you get the picture.

Maybe this is why Maytown needs a 15-story hotel. It certainly is part of the reason why, if we need Maytown, we need it somewhere else.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This was really an ethereal morning, damp, sliding clouds, and the barn swallows darting everywhere. The exceptional rains have called into being a lush subtropical paradise, at least temporarily. The catawba tree is fully leafed out (I predict a bumper year for catawba worms), and the peonies along the drive are ruffled double handfuls of pink and glowing white. Clarkie Belle's (that was Tom's grandmother) white roses are arcing along the fence, the clematis are out in full lavender force, and the iris, dianthus, catmint, and thyme are all puffed up with the arrogance of a generous spring. DiAnne's love-in-a-mist would have taken over, had I not pulled up at least half of the lacy little plants, but no blooms quite yet.

Harvey Lyles, Jeff's 93 year-old biodynamic guru, was here, vivid and charming, on his way to visit a lady friend in North Carolina.

We had a morning meeting in The Church of Outdoor Dining over breakfast, with Harvey talking about the history of biodynamics. I have to confess that a lot of it sounds like slightly crazed hocus-pocus to me, but I must also confess that Harvey is definitely NOT slightly crazed, and his calm, matter-of-fact prayer, calling on the spiritual essences of the planets and the constellations to protect and bless our land, and the land of the friends of Bells Bend, was a powerful moment. I found myself mentally walking the boundaries of our farm, and the properties of our neighbors, considering the people, the plants, and the animals who live in each place.

Harvey also placed a band of protection against verroa mites around the two bee hives on our front lawn, and talked and demonstrated dowsing--not just for water, but for other forces he feels he can detect around living beings.

While he was talking about angels guiding us from life to reincarnated life, the three vultures standing with spread wings on a bare tree down by the creek looked over their shoulders at us.
Not particularly expectantly, I didn't think.

Well, I'm a hard-headed no-god sceptic, and still don't believe in angels, and that's ok with Harvey, who is simply confident that things change in their own time, perhaps even those of us who are less evolved.

It was an extraordinary morning, spent in the presence of something extraordinary, and somehow Bells Bend has indeed been blessed, and we, the Friends of the Bend, can't help but think that kindness and generosity and joy will unfold, a jungle of spiritual biomass, along with the peonies, beans, and tomatoes.

Planting Tomatoes

Yesterday: home to the warming sight of tomato plants being laid in. Kathleen, Jim, Sule', Copper, Tom--plus Tim, who lives in Oak Hill, and Katie, who's newish to Nashville from Michigan, and Katie's friend. I'm sure I missed a few!

Jeff Poppen is here, an elfin hippie dervish, laying down the law about straight rows and the dogs (out!) from his tractor seat throne.

Then down to the potato patch.

Wet weather still a drag on farm activity, but the rain held off until the plants were in.

Eight people for dinner (our lettuce, our herbs in the spaghetti sauce, and Eaton's Creek strawberries, and May wine that DiAnne concocts each spring), dry but the sighing rain filtering down around us in the pavilion that has been christened The Church of Outdoor Dining.

Jeff has brought with him Harvey Lyles, a gentle saint with 55 years of biodynamic gardening experience. More tomorrow. Well, today.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rain, rain, and more rain

Rain, rain, rain. Damp cloudy days, thick misty drizzles, downpours sluicing along the roofs, overflowing the gutters, and carving deep runnels in the driveway gravel. Sometimes, along about sunset, a wedge of blue, luminous white trimming the navy clouds. Then more rain.

The hills behind George's house blur in the fog, and the pastures are knee deep in green. Cow-knee deep.

We've found a wet-weather spring, alas, in our garden pasture--Tom can't figure out why he hasn't noticed it sometime before during the thirty years he has lived here. Me, neither--it runs right down the driveway. Pastureland must soak it up better than plowed fields.

Our little lettuces, celery, and onions are sitting in water in their furrows, at least the part closest to the fence. And planting that we had planned for next week might have to be postponed.

On the other hand, when we drove in last Sunday afternoon, the little green heron was parked right by the road, and the great blue flapped slowly up the creek, looking, as always, a little bit like a pterodactyl.

Sound is muted in the damp evenings, with the ribbed croaks of the frogs flattened to a murmur, a bit like a slow zipper pull in front of a decent sound system. Uh-oh, the unbidden visuals there remind me that, after all, this is still Music City. This is clearly getting out of hand.

Rain. More rain. Zippers as simile only. Do not tell me otherwise.


No, not a dog (though we have two of those). Thanks to our hyperactive jefe, EricTheFarmer, Sulphur Creek Farm is now a registered WWOOF farm. You cool dudes out there already know what that means--we know because two of our daughters have WWOOFed in New Zealand and Thailand.

But for the sadly underinformed rest of you, this stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, started in the 70's in the UK, and now truly world wide. WWOOF provides descriptive listings of organic farms and gardens that host volunteer workers. In exchange for work (usually about 20 hours per week) host farms provide food and shelter.

We've already had 3 applicants--a New Yorker and a couple of Brits--in the first two weeks. I've duly informed the offspring that they need to book their bedrooms if they plan to be home this summer. Already the old home place is looking more attractive!