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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Today. Only.

So much has happened over the last few months: hops festival and square dance, benefit for Jeff Poppen (who is fighting a Tyson chicken operation that will drain into his spring), our trip to Turkey, art show at Martha's studio, Bells Bend farm day, life and death, here, in Libya and Syria, on Wall Street and Nashville's own Legislative Plaza. So much forces me to slow down and get small. So. Today.

It's just me, almost. Tom is reuniting with his highschool class of 50 years ago. Breakfast with Rachel, including the perpetually-these-are-really-the-last tomatoes, for what is likely the last of this year's tomato sandwiches. Really. The morning ritual of dog food, cat food, koi food, one last pink water lily. Walking to Kathleen's to talk about the neighborhood web site--one of those golden fall days. Kai--bless his heart!--is working on the greenhouse. A great blue heron flaps ponderously in, ratcheting it's tripod legs down to light on a tree stump, folding its pterodactyl wings.

Roses and clematis are re-blooming, the zinnias are as fierce as ever. At Kathleen's, spectacular dahlias are tilting at the breeze, and she has volunteer dill coming up on the pathway. Her old dog is sleeping in a patch of sun. A vulture is just visible, spreading its wings as it sits at the peak of the forest.

The swee'gum tree is brilliant, crimson and bronze, and faded green, dangling its decorative little balls. Doris is getting a jump, it looks like, cables running from her car to a pickup truck parked in the driveway. The little cemetery beside her house has been freshly mowed, and when I get home, so has our own yard, and Eddie and Patrick are just loading up mowers and trimmers. I'm always fascinated at the transformation of our ratty dandelion leaves, ancient fescue, and faded violets and crabgrass into what looks--for a couple of days at least--like a real lawn advertising the tidiness, thrift, and dedication to maintenance of its proprietors. (Well, in a way I guess we are: we are certainly dedicated to the maintenance of Eddie and Patrick.)

It's a rich, blooming, lush world, and the Japanese turnips and little radishes are coming in. And so much more. As so often is the case, the small things are adding up one by one to a big thing: an autumn day at home right here. Rachel's off to guide a hike (looking for nuts) at Beaman Park, Peter came in to use the computer, Kai is rummaging around for a hacksaw. I'm going back outside.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Our community, and Nashville at large, is mourning the loss of Minda Lazarov, cook, neighbor, activist extraordinaire.

Minda was the well-connected, well-informed, energetic neighborhood strategist during our fight against big-money developers. It was hard to say no to Minda, and I am here to testify that sometimes it's been hard to say yes!

Without Minda, Sulphur Creek Farm and Bells Bend Neighborhood Farms would not exist. Three years ago, as we gathered, exhausted from our years of phone calls, letters, planning commission meetings, and metro council meeting, but also jubilant about our improbable defeat of a $4-billion development proposal, it was Minda who suggested an organic farm--a positive step for our area.

Like zombies, we all nodded enthusiastically, and then looked blankly at each other. What next? What uncharted journey had we started?

Within two months, Jeff Poppen had helped lay out gardens on four properties, compost was accumulating (100 tons of the stuff), and 11-foot poles were appearing in our front pasture to build the 8-foot deer fence. Volunteers showed up on two sleety days to set posts and stretch fencing. We still didn't have a farmer, and weren't at all sure how this was going to work, but we pushed ahead.

And then we got a call from EricTheFarmer, at this point EricTheAboutToGraduate, who had grown up right here, wanting to help with the farm.

Three years later, the whirlwind continues: volunteers, square dances and potlucks, kids camped out in spare rooms,tractors, workshops, Bells Bend ale, and on and on.

Minda, we miss you already. As Rachel said, tearfully, "We're all going to have to step up now".