Rising Sand and Structures

I’ve been taking care of a lot of shit lately — quite literally, as my administrative tasks have come to include research of county-specific septic requirements. Though our pack-a-potty has been upgraded to a port-a-potty, with a composting toilet yet to come, our eventual ambitions of on-site housing will require the establishment of a certified septic system. This is just one of a large handful of necessary developments planned for the very near future, including moving hoop houses, building walipinis, revamping irrigation, and somehow getting rid of the random boat we inherited with the land. First and foremost, however, is the refurbishment of our pack-shed, and installation of the walk-in cooler.


With all of that in mind, it is vegetables that pay our bills, and my early Tuesday afternoon found me trellising outdoor tomatoes with Dan McDougle. We found a nice groove, cruising swiftly through the plot before moving to the bottom beds for beet-weeding, where we were joined by Dan’s new girlfriend, who had graciously come to help out.

Regardless of my positive overall feelings towards Dan McDougle, his girlfriend, and beets, I was not at all upset when the call came down from the top of the hill. “Hey Lee, when you’re done with what you’re working on, can I show you another project quick?”

Hmm, hand-weed beets with Dan and his girlfriend, or work on construction with Oren?

“Yeah dude; I’m just finishin’ up.”

Up the hill I went, to meet my mid-afternoon “project,” which turned out to be little more than sand doggin’. Basically, the space adjacent to the pack-shed has still got a great deal of debris to be cleared, and sand to be leveled, before we can pour a fresh cement pad and install our walk-in cooler. I grabbed the shovel, rake, Gator and chainsaw and got back to work on the seemingly endless, but ultimately time-sensitive task that I’d started a handful of Saturdays ago.


Oren and I worked in relative peace in the afternoon breeze — he inside, and I out. The pleasant silence was interrupted only by Oren’s intermittent sneezes and hiccup fits, which, by some strange twist of physiological fate, sound more like something you’d hear on Mortal Kombat. As his aggressive diaphragmatic spasms continued, my general mindset morphed from “Why, bless you!” to “Finish Him…

I decided to focus my efforts instead on finishing the thankless task at hand: leveling sand piles, raking through the tangled masses of sticks, roots and wires, and clearing the brushy degree and dangling limbs from behind the cooler space. While I shoveled and piled, I couldn’t help but reflect bemusedly on this literal manifestation of rising sand. One day, I thought as I hoisted shovelful after shovelful of sand, the cooler will come down from its aloof perch and sit right here on a pristine cement pad. One day, I thought as my chainsaw roared through the tangled mass of twisted limbs and stumps, young worker shares and farming enthusiasts will walk the property, exclaiming, “Wow, this is so beautiful; I just love it here!” One day, I thought as I raked through snaky roots, buried rocks and hidden wire, people will sit down on a real toilet, taking its presence for granted; never considering the days before its inception.

But for today, the brush just needs to be cut and the roof lifted. For today, we just have to sweat, hoist, hiccup and sneeze. For all of our lofty ambitions and moral ponderings, the sand just needs to be moved and the shit accounted for. Every day, we move a tiny bit closer to that day which can only be imagined in the Mind’s Eye, investing our precious sweat into the land which has become ours, developing that loving relationship which can only be bought with time and work. Sometimes, at the end of these days, we just sit in a circle and laugh at Lotus the Dog interacting playfully and uncertainly with the new kittens. Sometimes we just laugh at ourselves and our situation. Surrounded by a world of projects, potential, and dilapidation, sometimes we just laugh, knowing that the shit is accounted for, and the projects will be waiting tomorrow when we get back to them.