Sunday, April 20, 2008


Jim needed to take a load of storm debris up to Avalon and I had promised Avalon, the last time we were there, that I would come back and sing for her, so we set out after lunch on this unpromising, gray and chilly day, the temperature in the 50s F and the sky stormy. It is the very peak of spring! None of the bulbs has blown yet, so color is added upon color, tulips to daffodils, everywhere. Wildflowers abound, aconite, snowdrops and violets rampant in our yard and along meadows and roadsides. Most trees are blushing light green with the first hint of leaf-buds and all of the fruit trees are either in bloom or, in the case of peach trees, blushing pale pink with the first days of opening the buds. The lilac is coming out now and the forsythia still holds sway along the wayside.

We went up on the Marathon and Methodists route, a country route, staying off the expressways. At each of the first four turns, there is a Marathon gas station. At the final turn, there is a Methodist church. It was the perfect route for gazing at the glory of springtime. Occasionally the thrill of eating so much eye candy would overcome me and I’d start thanking the Lord out loud. Joy poured through me.

Melissa had the tractor on the road with the grading box behind it when we got there. She had said she hoped very much to be able to do some road work today, since this is the longest dry spell we have had. I was so glad to see she had succeeded! I felt badly at her having to stop to let us by, but she said not to worry. She had come to a good stopping place and would start right there tomorrow, if the road was still dry enough to work.

I cannot tell you how happy I felt to see our equipment in use! It has long sat idle and in fact Melissa has been working on just getting our tractor back to working order for a couple of months. A flat tire and a bad solenoid have been replaced, as well as the battery. Attachments and parts have been acquired. And research goes into all of this, as Mel learns the tractor and how it works.

The grading box does a great job! We could see the vast improvement where she had been working. And she has done much more than ride the tractor back and forth. Jim’s system of dams and ditches has been restored, which is many hours of work to do, with much digging and heavy lifting.

Mel is little but strong and tough, used to construction work and experienced at working with tools. She is just learning this tractor, though. She seemed quite competent to me, but she herself feels it will take much more practice before she feels fully confident.

She had prepared some torn greens, raw fruit, raw vegetables and croutons as a treat for us to feed to the chickens, who at first fled, seeing us invade their hen run. But gradually, Melissa coaxed them out with her, “Allez, allez,” and they came close enough to espy the goodies. Then they were ready to come closer and we sat with the five hens and rooster for about a half hour, just talking about Avalon Farm business. It is the closest we have gotten to our new babies.

Mel has inspected the mushroom plugs which Shane brought down from Canada last week and says that they are all just fine; some of them ready to inoculate into the prepared logs while others are not quite ready. This is our first try at a crop we know Avalon can grow and that’s exciting.

Vara planted a kitchen garden several summers back, but we knew ahead of time that until we dig a good well at Avalon, the draught season is too severe for the plantings to survive, while in rainy weather, the garden plot is situated in a dip in the meadow where it routinely floods. Vee moved heaven and earth and spent most of her time that summer carrying water from the creek to the plants and did harvest a bunch of cucumbers and zucchini, which are both extremely hardy crops.

Melissa is now working on the kitchen garden plot, rebuilding the area by adding dirt when she gets it from her road work as well as – literally – tons of compost. Her intention is to keep doing so until there is no longer a drainage problem. She has also finished fencing it. When the last volunteer left in 2005, there were two sides of the fence erected. She finished the job. A fence is absolutely necessary as we have deer and other critters who like young plants.

However she has no plans to grow such a garden this year, which I feel is very wise. She is swamped in construction. She would like to build a pole barn for our equipment. She also wants to build a fence around our pasture so that we can keep alpacas and llamas. In addition to all that, she is far from finished with her plan for improving our access road, which is half a mile long and still in need of lots of TLC.

Everywhere I look, I see Melissa’s loving care reflected. Like many service-to-others-oriented people, Mel is very self-deprecating. But her hard labor shows everywhere! Our peach tree is saved – it was listing heavily and dying – and bearing bloom! A pretty new flower bed has been made from a pile of stones left in the meadow by former volunteers. Paw-paw trees just were planted as well as lots of black locust starts which she got from a forestry program which gives away certain species of trees to farmers in the attempt to put good trees in.

Cedar trees that are not native to this region but were imported have gone wild around here. The idea is to take out the intruders and replant the Kentucky native species. The state and county agents have been to visit and one of these agents has marked many trees for removing in order to clear the canopy and make room for our Kentucky native trees.

All in all, Mel is a wise woman not to try to garden on top of the mushroom farming, road work, tree work, pole-barn building and fence construction!

After we had sat long enough with Russell Crow, Dusty Rose and the four Golden Comets to start getting chilled, we left the chicken run. Mick and Melissa loaded the trailer, now empty of the limb-load, with the creek rocks which Mel has collected during the last week or so. Jim needs them to build a wall for a Jim’s Lawn Service customer.

And I got out my hymnal and sang until they were finished. It feels good to sing to Avalon, who really appreciates it. And it feels good to be resting in the heavenly vibrations of sacred song, just on my own account. It felt very healing.

We had another lovely ride home, staying on another country road, US 42, all the way in to Louisville. Avalon feels full of promise, and certainly full of love and devotion.