I LISTENED to music while I worked on Elizabeth Fekonia’s land: bluesman Howlin‘ Wolf – picking potatoes; Cuban singer/guitarist Silvio Rodriguez – potting seeds; Paul Kelly – making sweet potato cuttings; The Faces – digging holes; and Bob Dylan – weeding.
Yes, I settled into a nice rhythm at Black Mountain. I began toiling in the fields early, usually before 7 am, and worked until lunch. Then I wrote or interviewed people for articles. By evening, I was eye-rubbingly tired.
For the first few days, my legs were sluggish, but they became stronger. Some days I bounded up the paths. My muscles were weary each night, but I noticed that I felt more at ease: with people I met, with whatever task was due.
The physical work gave me a body-confidence to which I’m not accustomed, and it changed my state of mind. I wrote in a previous post about the practice required for me to gain faith in my hands and limbs, in the way they grip and move. After my time at Elizabeth’s I felt sure that I could be useful in whatever situation I chanced upon. Writing, on the other hand, makes me feel timid. I think it’s the contrast between observing and participating, hanging back and pitching in. On this trip I’ve found a nice balance: wwoofing, hitchhiking, writing and talking. It’s got me feeling grand.
When I left Black Mountain, the seeds I potted had begun to sprout and the seedlings I planted, grow. Soon will come the veggies. I planted fruit trees too, and daydreamed about the years, even decades, when people will pluck ripe peaches and nectarines from their branches.