Vacations are designated periods of time, when we are supposed to change our routine in some way, such that it manifests itself in renewing and rejuvenating our souls. I have often thought that I should research the history of the vacation, but that didn’t seem like fun at all. Busman’s holiday and all that. We all know that time is a human constraint which takes the forces of all things and events in nature, and in our forward moving existence, and organizes it into something that is often confining, limiting, and structured. And then we have vacation…. which has this mesmerizing ability to extend time at the beginning of it, as we acclimate to our new, non-schedule, and time takes on this new dimension that allows us to remain present and focused on this intangible space in our lives. It’s the ultimate “time-out”.
I am on vacation. I have changed up my daily routine dramatically as well as my environment. I, along with my FHB, paid to stay at a goat farm in Vermont, and all that comes with it. We are hardly Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert of “Green Acres” fame because we are loft folk, and here we are, learning how to make chevre and ricotta and experience milking nubian goats. We are up before seven, and happily following the farmer down to the barn to learn the responsibilities of running a farm. We watch as the horses are fed, the manure is shoveled, the pig, Bella, is let out of her pen, and the chickens and goats are allowed to roam wherever they please. The newest baby goat, three week old, Shelby, is bottle fed, five times a day, and gets to sleep in the house with the farmer till she is able to eat feed. This is a 365 day, 24/7, commitment, with no vacation. Do you see the irony?
My “aha!” moment appeared as I learned to milk the goats (which happens twice a day). I had a choice in the matter. I was playing goat farmer intern. Don’t get me wrong (I actually hate that expression) as I am loving this moment in time when I get to play with goats which are one of my favorite animals. They are intelligent, clean, obedient and good company. They require a significant amount of care and dedication by someone who truly loves his work, despite the restrictions it imposes on his life because this is his choice.
The day is measured by the chores that are accomplished, only to do it all again, the next day. The satisfaction is in having that intrinsic awareness that the outcome of your passion is observable in the constancy of the health and development of these creatures. It is both awesome and an awesome responsibility. It is humbling and gives me insight into the impact on our relationship with food. I observe how it begins on a small farm, one of many small farms, and how,and what, we choose to eat, in this day of food networks and our love affair with taste and fragrance, is because someone is taking care of what will be our food, in a responsible fashion. I have some feelings about this that I didn’t think about before. It’s not always comfortable. This is my vacation….I shouldn’t think about this. Maybe this is exactly when I should think about this. Maybe this is the time that my brain allows me to divert from my usual schedule and thought process to ponder how it all fits together, the farmer and the vacationer.
I can’t even begin to express the continuum of thoughts that run through my head from my moment in time (in the grand scale) and this moment in time, my designated, vacation time. This is when I am renewing the essence that is me. It has done it’s job in a timely fashion. I am experiencing so much gratitude. I did not plan on this depth of feeling. It’s one thing to love baby goats and it is another thing to realize that they don’t just happen. The intersection of my moments on the farm,and the farmer who will continue to do his work, is a fleeting exchange. I hope to be a better time keeper of my own routine to ensure that my time is impactful and fulfilling and that vacations are not just memories but insights to be used the rest of the year.