Okay, someone finally said it. In a request for an interview about our participation in the Frog Rock Forum (http://www NULL.sustainablebainbridge NULL.org/frog-rock-forum NULL.aspx), an upcoming community event about resiliency, one of Connie’s stated goals was to hear our thoughts as “elders” in the community. Maybe she didn’t mean ME; maybe she was only referring to my (older) husband in that context.
For awhile now, I’ve been mentally transitioning out of visualizing myself as middle aged, thinking about how it feels and what it means to move into the category of “older,” if not elder. Long ago, I worked through the fact that heads don’t turn at the sight of me walking by (not sure they ever did, much), and my beautiful baby created so much of a stir that I could have worn a gorilla suit and no one would have noticed. Reflections on those kind of realities prepared me to relish age appropriate roles of parent; of auxiliary mom to my daughter’s friends and the kids I coached for the first eight years of the local rope-skipping team; of life-long partnership alongside my wonderful husband; of member of a small town community where we have been visible to many as friends, fellow parents, booksellers, and farmers market vendor.
Letting go of the cultural superficial stereotype that defines-and measures-a woman by her “hotness” (and how long she is able-naturally or otherwise-to maintain some illusion of it) turns out to be both easy and liberating. Embracing the cultural stereotype that defines and measures its elders turns out to be more complex. The most interesting part is to imagine being seen through others’ lens. To consider whether as an older person I have an impact. Whether in my old age I am invisible or my value as a contributor lessens in my circle of friends and larger community.
Without kids around to define us, and no brick-and-mortar business, together as a couple we find that values continue to define our direction, and liberation comes from freely following that path. Resiliency may result from adapting to political, economic and environmental evolutions at local and more global levels, to realities of family and community within our own and both generations bracketing ours. Paying attention to what really matters to us has illuminated what it means to feel happy, content, fulfilled, secure.
Deciding among life choices is sometimes difficult: which are important enough to bump off others. Worrying about roads not taken and missed opportunities takes its toll. The good thing about getting to this place defined as “older-or elder” is that I realize that I no longer have the agony of worrying about some of those what-ifs, and many choices are no longer available to me, due to my advanced age and all its accompanying circumstances… In contrast, there is more elbow room to explore and engage with remaining options.
Challenging ourselves to live in the moment and to maximize every possible potential of the home we made for ourselves on the incredible piece of land in the middle of an amazing community we find ourselves lucky enough to live in has created a lifestyle that suits us perfectly. We embrace life, the moment, the place and the challenge. As we continually climb the learning curve of growing food for our table year round, we relish all aspects of experimenting with new varieties, figuring out how grow within the parameters of the PNW climate, learning new ways to preserve the harvest, playing with food as both art and nurture. We collaborate with friends, share the lessons, the gardens and the table, and seek more insight and kindred spirits.
Years ago when we moved onto the land that would become Sweetlife Farm, we adopted a two year old Jack Russell terrier named Otis, who became the youngest child, much to the dismay of the teenager in the house; eventually he became the bookstore dog and the downtown dog. He died at 17 and Poppy soon replaced him as the canine apple of our eye. She brings us pure joy with her love of life and us, unwavering companionship, quick mind and superior athleticism; watching her mother her second litter of pups, now three weeks old, reminds us of the purity and simplicity of youth and the delight and responsibilities of parenthood. It reminds me also of the unique beauty and importance of the seasons, literally and metaphorically.
The seasons are for us to embrace. Never mind long ago youth, not so long ago ambitious mid-life. Growing and being old has a full set of inherent benefits, that become apparent with age. It remains for others to see what fits for them and take what they will of us elders in their midst.
See the results of Connie’s interview here (http://www NULL.pnwlocalnews NULL.com/kitsap/bir/news/124105704 NULL.html).