Perhaps what first caught my eye was the cover: a woman in her late 30's, wearing a v-neck sweater and jeans, holding a chicken in her arms, a basket of produce sitting at her feet. Truth be told, this is the image that gets the blood flowing in my veins and well, I know my husband cannot look away from me when I am approaching him in my worn pair of Red Wings (a gift from him for our honeymoon). At a time when so many are heading to the book store seeking fulfillment in 50 Shades Of Gray then later paying out $10 to sit in a cold movie theater watching Mike make some Magic...well, no wonder so many of us are depressed! What we really all need is... The Dirty Life.
Kristin Kimball is the writer and farmer behind this wonderful book. This beautiful and sometimes funny memoir summarizes in a few hundred pages what has become my life for three blissful days each week each summer. And as I sit here in the cabin writing while everyone else is sleeping, I cannot help but feel gratitude and fulfillment knowing that tomorrow, amidst the local Norman Rockwell like 4th of July festivities in Balsam Lake, I too will at some point throw on my overalls and Red Wings and get down and dirty in the earth. For this 50 by 50 area of land is where I will not only grow the food that feeds my family and friends but also the earth that feeds my soul. It is here that I feel happiest. It is digging, tilling, weeding and eventually harvesting that has me both literally and figuratively grounded.
We built this cabin 11 years ago with a vision of our young children running around in search of frogs, being out on the beautiful water- skiing and boarding, and gathering around the table for hearty meals at the end of the day in the company of family and friends. Little did I know that the extensive garden we would begin to build three years ago would bring so much joy, so much nourishment and so much fresh, organic, harvested-with-love produce to our lives. And well, I guess I never imagined that instead of working the weight machines at the overcrowded, overpriced club, in an effort to tighten up my triceps, biceps, abs and quads, that I'd instead use my limbs as a natural pulley system. For it is in the garden I noticed one has the natural ability to tone up what goes a bit soft over the winter months, while joyfully, silently gardening outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Then again, that all seems to matter so much less when I'm in my garden. Everything I do, everything I feel is so much easier and more clear when I'm working here. I'm in a good place mind, body and soul.
And so, if you're toying with the idea of making a change to the dirty life, perhaps consider reading this little book. If it interests you, ask around and interview your neighbors here who garden. Then, if instead of feeling paralyzed by fear you are excited by the prospect of having your very own garden, pick up a few books on Midwest fruit and vegetable gardening. On your way home from the book store (try The Booknook as if she doesn't have any copies someone there will surely loan you theirs), buy yourself a pair of Red Wings, overalls and a top notch pair of gardening gloves. But don't forget to drop by the club. You'll want to suspend your membership. Just tell them you're sorry but you're upgrading to the dirty life.
See you on the water... (or stop by and we'll give you a tour of the garden).