Sunday – especially the first Sunday I am home in weeks in the autumn – is anything but a day of rest. Quan has a list of things undone that require a second pair of hands or strong legs, and though she starts by taking me off the computer with, “Can you just help me with…?”, the list inevitably expands like a Hoberman sphere, and goes on and on, well into the dying afternoon of these increasingly short days. Finally, we stop from exhaustion, not from satisfaction – because the list for this rural farm – like the list for my somatic education enterprise – goes on forever.

But after an hour of mild fretting, I settle in. There is something very satisfying about the destructive power of a sharp chainsaw, and though I cannot understand anything else about President Bush, I get, on this wan afternoon, his satisfaction with brush cutting. It is pleasantly mindless, and produces a palpable result – in this case, more light for the garden next spring. It also produces wood, which I slice into stove-size pieces, and we truck it around to stack under the eaves. The branches mount up in the burn pile – it’s a yearly thing, a burn pile or two – always fun on a damp spring day to reduce it to a pile of ashes – I usually miscalculate and have to stay into the night to make sure it doesn’t stray.
But the garden has been covered with digested compost, rototilled, and mulched with rinsed seaweed to restore minerals. I am not a farmer or gardener, so all I supplied was the muscle power, but I am impressed.

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