Five Trees Make an Orchard
Reading a country guide, I learned that five trees make an orchard. This came as a shock to me. Only five trees? It challenged the image in my mind from a visit to an apple orchard in Cortland when I was a kid: straight lines of fruit laden production fading on a diagonal into the horizon to infinity. Now I see a gaggle of fruit trees here or there splotched into these raggedly divided patches of family land on the French countryside and realize there's something great in the whole idea of a five tree orchard, the smallest possible, but an orchard nonetheless.
I am now standing in the autumn of my fifth year on the blog. I am looking back at the archives at what I have to show for it. What do I see? My orchard.
First, I see improvement. Sharing through this blog has improved my photography and writing. When I look back on how this all began, I see that I have come a long way. The first fleeting images, labored assemblage, pushing hard to get on top of the code learning curve, these struggles seem so far from where I am now. Without the structure of the blog to keep me practicing all the time, I doubt I would have been able to make the kind of progress I have in the last five years. For that I am thankful.
Second, I see friendship. Over the years, through the blog, I have reached out to a world that reaches back to me. I have had so many great exchanges and friendships come from the blog. Kind words of encouragement from afar, people who saw my blog, contacted me, and are now steadfast everyday friends, and professional mentors have all come to me this way. I am so thankful for you all.
Third, I see a body of work. It's like I have been working on a quilt. Piecing it together, the seasons like pinwheels, stars, themes emerging. As the years go by, they are placed in particular order year after year. Getting the archive organized into seasons like chapters and the recipes organized into categories has helped immensely.
Fourth, I see a new cycle, something new that only recently has revealed itself to me. You see, all that I have written falls within a framework. Throughout the last five years, I have worked on distilling images and ideas that were collected throughout my life. But at the same time, there were projects, hopes, ideas and events that were not complete yet, because I was in the process of living them, hashing them out, being disappointed by them, rushing headlong into them. When I sat in one late afternoon's last golden rays and I dove in head first to write about one simple moment with a man and a fruit that happened years ago in Beijing, all of these other things in my life were still going on full blast, tearing by at full speed. So now, when I scroll through the titles of my entries in the archive, I see in their titles little anchors in my mind to new stories, ones that have rested and had a chance to clarify, the stories I'm working on now. I am so thankful for these markers.
The fifth but maybe the most important thing I see is regular meditation. Five years of quietly turning my attention to what is good in my life has been good for my soul. Even when things got hectic and tasks like changing diapers and singing lullabies have interfered with blogging, this meditation continues. Five years of finding ways to celebrate with traditions, honor the beauty around me, and to show my love has improved my relationships with the people I care about the most.
Lets lift a glass to Autumn! To the orchard! It's harvest time.