April 23 • 12:14 PM

Fuel, food and a picture of Heaven

May 16, 2007
The column about true friendship touched a chord with a lot of folks who took time to thank me for it, including some people I haven't seen in a while. Thanks, Chris. You too, Class Clown, and Bernie, my sister in spirit...telepathy is good. And thanks to those I see often or now and then. It means a lot.

I appreciate it any time I get positive feedback from my life's work. It's the fuel that keeps me going.

We are all fueled by our friendships, especially those that are true and lasting. Some commented that they related to the column personally—that they have true friendships and have been true friends. Good feeds good. It's that simple. Thank you.

Speaking of food, some of you may have noticed a new voice in our 'Lifestyles' section—Teemie Eschenburg. Teemie wants to introduce us to and remind us about the wonderful world of locally grown foods. Isn't it great to live in a community where farming is not just some distant concept, but something we actually see in action every day? Now that the growing season is here, we'll be able to touch, smell and taste it, too. Farmers Markets in Almont and Imlay City offer us options to do just that, as does the one in Lapeer.

Aside from the fantastic, fresh feel and taste of locally grown produce, supporting the 'farm-to-plate' concept transforms eating into an almost spiritual act. And when you think about it, it really is.

In every grain, every fruit, every bite of cheese or drop of milk there is an entire universe. The elements and seasons, the cycle of life. The whole thing is a bit of a miracle in itself—that a bud turns to flower turns to fruit and all that. That the earth and sun are a part of it so when we take a bite we are communing with the universe. Sound like a bunch of hippie chick BS? Maybe. But if you really think about it, it's true. Even the overripe apples and unpicked strawberries have a part in the process—nourishment for the earth which feeds next year's crop.

Then there's the whole economic aspect. For someone like me—a farmer wannabe—I love driving to work and seeing cows in the pasture. I even enjoy getting stuck behind those huge crazy combines and big monster machines that are once again becoming part of the drive into work. I'd much rather be moseying along behind a big old tractor than stuck in a long line of cars and trucks inching along on I-75 or 696 every morning.

By supporting the local farmers, greenhouse growers, farm markets and food producers I believe I ensure my own choice of lifestyle, sense of personal happiness and well-being by trying to keep them in business however I can. I know all about city dwelling. Loved it, too. But moving out to 'the country' was a lifelong dream that I've been able to live for the past 16 years. I want it to last. And in my own small way, I want to embrace our rural community and support those who've lived this way for generations—or those who, like me, have chosen to make a dream come true.

Then there's the whole spiritual aspect of 'community.' Many years ago I was asked to do a story about an 'Empty Bowls' project that was being undertaken by students at Venture High School, Imlay City's alternative high school. This was back when the school operated out of the old DNR building on M-53. Anyhow, the concept of 'Empty Bowls' was created by a couple of artists from Birmingham or somewhere thereabouts, if I recall. They decided to use their art—pottery—to raise funds to feed hungry people in their community and beyond. It's a much longer story than I have room for, but what prompted the project was the story 'The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore,' by Alan Cohen. Here it is:

"One day a wise person who left the earth was taken on a tour of the inner realms. He was shown a room where he saw a large group of hungry people trying to eat dinner, but because the spoons that they were trying to eat with were longer than their arms, they remained frustrated. "This," his guide told him, "is hell." "That's terrible!" exclaimed the man; "Please show me heaven!" "Very well," agreed the guide, and on they went. When they opened Heaven's door, the man was perplexed to see what looked very much like the same scene: there was a group of people with spoons longer than their arms. As he looked more closely, however, he saw happy faces and full tummies, for there was one important difference: the people in Heaven had learned to feed each other."

Doesn't that just say it all?

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Castle Creek
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