We’ve been thinking a lot about nourishment.
About the land’s nourishment.
About nourishment of our imaginations and souls.
We wonder who else is thinking about this with us. Alice Waters said, “My real emphasis is on the farmers…thinking about our nourishment.” Because there is a difference between thinking about being full and being nourished. I think most of the market in this country is thinking, even obsessed, with being full – with feeling full, with having a lot, with constantly being on the edge of experience. And I wonder when we are so singularly set on seeking fullness, if it is because we aren’t actually nourished. We’re seeking to fill the lack of true satisfaction with increased quantity. It seems there could be no end to that quest.
I was thinking about nourishment this week as it relates to all of our soils. We put cows in the vineyard this week because the soils in it haven’t had an input of fresh manure and trampling of the ground in a very long time – possibly ever. The soil is craving fresh bacteria and accessible nutrients. Its craving signals that other life is growing with it, feeding off of it, and giving back to it. Maybe those are defining characteristics of being nourished.
Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘nourishing’ as ‘contributing to health or growth’. I wonder what it would be like to assess our lives, our work, our relationships, and our communities by a standard of nourishment. Does it contribute to health and growth? Good lord. By that standard, we’re all lost. Or in the least, flailing.
Its an interesting definition also because it juxtaposes comfort and ease to nourishment. Comfort and ease aren’t always the things that contribute to health and growth. Struggle and challenge are biologically necessary for plants to grow strong and resilient. We’ve been hardening off some of the seedlings for our new herb and spice garden and our current route of nourishing them is to stick them in the cold nights in order to assure their health and growth in the ground. I feel a pang of guilt when I put them out there at dusk as though they’re all looking at me with a sense of betrayal. They would die without the hardening, though, and we'd have a year without medicine and without spice for our meals.
There’s also a sense that nourishment is not only assessed by the consumer…that the question of contributing to health and growth is not just about the one receiving, but of also the system of the source of nourishment. The manure of the cows in the vineyard isn’t beneficial if the cow isn’t thriving. And the food from the ground won’t give us much if the soil is sterile. And I even talk with our hospitality staff about the idea that if we aren’t fortified and living in our work in sustainable ways, we can’t possibly contribute health to those we’re serving.
We’re on a search of nourishment. For deeper ways and ways filled with beauty that nourish ourselves, this work, and those who spend time with us on the land.
Friends, may you be nourished. May you seek it out and not let it go. May you be satisfied and not simply filled. And may your nourishment enable you to nourish the land and your loves.
* * * * *
Ways We're Seeking Nourishment in the Near Future:
Materia Medica Herbal Medicine Summer Series (begins next Thursday)