Anne Lamott in her book "Bird by Bird" tells writers that one of the keys to writing is short assignments and small picture frames. Instead of setting out on some grand scheme to write the next Brothers Karamazov, the thing to do is just pick one small assignment, one picture that fits into a small one inch frame, and go to work writing about it, describing it, fleshing it out. She quotes E.L. Doctorow who said, "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way." I agree with her that "this is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life." This blog is what I'm seeing one small picture frame at a time. I'm not altogether sure where it's going but I know as I'm faithful with the short assignments, something meaningful and worthwhile might just emerge.
Below is the description from the original banner on the YoP blog. The new banner, as of July 2013, is a photo I took in the Skagit Valley in western Washington during their tulip festival. I was taken by the one rebellious yellow tulip in the sea of purple conformity. It speaks to the efforts on this blog to explore small and large ways to go against the flow to find more faithful ways of living in world full of pressures to conform.
The blog banner is made up of some of the snapshots from our Year(s) of Plenty.
This is Cheesy our Buff Orpington chicken that won Best of Breed at the Spokane County Fair. Cheesy is Lily's pride and joy. I write on the blog about our family and our experiences as backyard farmers, recovering conventional consumers and Christians exploring the intersections of faith and the environment.
This is part of Orchard Prairie less than a mile from my house. The cherry orchard in the distance is the last working orchard on this prairie. There is a group working to protect the prairie from encroaching development. Go here to learn more about their cause. I write on the blog about the West Valley of Spokane where we are seeking the welfare of our own neighborhood through a farmers market, community gardens, walking school buses, chicken coop tours, food bank distributions, collaboration with schools and businesses and whatever else comes to mind.
This is another beautiful place about a mile down the hill from our house. Arbor Crest Winery's famous Riblett Mansion is the house perched on the hill and the property in the foreground is owned by Hutton Settlement, whose cottages for 30+ kids are just out of frame to the left. If you look close you can see the path of the irrigation ditches that used to irrigate a Valley full of over a million apple trees. Our church has an Easter sunrise service up at the house every Easter morning. I write on the blog about the unique history and future of the Spokane area, with an eye toward food and land and sustainability.
This is the view from Steptoe Butte State Park, about an hour drive south from home into the heart of the famous Palouse. The park is among the few slivers of land that hasn't been plowed under for growing barley and lentils and winter wheat. It's one of the most beautiful and productive pieces of land on earth. Go here for background on the growing concern of erosion of the Palouse from intensive farming. In the midst of our local community I like to keep and eye on the horizon of what's going on elsewhere and comment at random.
This is my favorite garden friend, the beautiful purple coneflower.
This is our backyard vegetable garden labyrinth that used to be lawn. Go here for the story.
Prominent in the banner are vertical boundaries, and while at first I just thought they looked cool, upon further reflection I can see how they are part of the story too. We find ourselves in the midst of boundaries between food and land, home and farm, faith and environment and hopefully this blog offers some meaningful crossings of these boundaries.