DEAR FRIENDS, 4/23/2012

Spring is here, and that means I now give up all day at my desk and turn my life, at least half the time, on days when it isn’t raining, toward gardening. I raise a huge amount of vegetables every summer and that effort starts now, early this year, way early. All of which means I spent the first three days of this week outdoors. I am NOT complaining! But I’m 72 this year and thingsĀ take so much longer than they did 20 or 30 years ago. What took me three and a half days this week would have taken me a day a couple of decades ago.

Those first three and a half days this week were spent turning over my largest raised bed, my earliest ground, where I always plant the peas, two kinds, and my first long double row of spinach. I also spent some of those days indoors working on trying to organize the notes for SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. Thursday, April 19th, I planted Green Arrow shell peas and Oregon Giant Snow peas and a twenty-foot, double row of long standing Bloomsdale spinach. On Friday I visited with some neighbors, wrote letters to Wendell Berry and Donald Hall and then Lois and I made a pizza. Saturday I spent the entire day outside turning over my compost pile. This is the biggest and heaviest job I do every spring. It took all day, but it’s done, and after I put a layer of last year’s finished compost on top of it, it’ll be ready to be the place I plant my cucumber starts this summer.

I’ve gone into such detail about what I did this past week, because I wanted to demonstrate how, especially now that spring is here, I do not give up the rest of my life to be a writer.

If you really don’t want to give up the rest of your life in order to write–and who would?–even though in their pomposity, that’s what so many writers say you must do–what are you to do? Well, grin and bear it, I’d say. Do as much as you can while you live your life. John Haines said to me once, “Live your life and don’t be literary about it.” Good advice! The trouble with the pompous, arrogant and unrealistic admonitions from so many writers about how you must give up everything in order to write, is: if you do that, you’ll have nothing to write about, and you’ll end up like so many American writers writing about language instead of, as joel oppenheimer said, “something.” Joel said, “Poetry is not about language, it’s about something.”

Today, Sunday–I always write my blog on Sunday–it is raining. We need rain desperately. It’s been dangerously dry here for months. I’m particularly glad I got the compost turned before the rains came. A little soaking and settling for that compost pile is just what it needs.

Sincerely, David Budbill