person laying on their back on the ground

Gaining Ground

Donning sun hats, long pants and gloves, we arrived in a field of asparagus that went on for as far as the eye could see. It was a glorious morning that turned into one of my favorites this summer. Michelle greeted us with all smiles. She led us to one of the endless rows, and down we went to weed for 3 hours. This was Gaining Ground, a non-profit organic farm that grows vegetables and fruit and donates all of the fresh produce to area meal programs and food pantries.

I’m familiar with weeding, but it’s usually a solitary activity and a time I use to work things out in my head or just be with the dirt, the plants, and the silence. That morning we were four women on a mission.

With enthusiasm, we all squatted, determined to finish at least one of the rows. It didn’t take more than a minute to start the conversation. Here’s how it went (in sequence): “family, travel, work, books, food, our bodies, exercise, why we aren’t doing enough exercise, why is there shame around not doing enough exercises? It needs to be fun. Yoga? Swimming? Belly Dancing? Do I have to wear a skirt below my hips? Why do I care? Because our culture is all about perfection. I’m done with that. Me too, me too, let’s have a snack.” The trajectory of that discussion could and should be a blog post of its own.

The time flew by and as we began to tire our language was the first thing to go, and our squats turned into just plain sitting in the dirt, which morphed into crawling on all fours, then lying on our backs in exhaustion. I laughed a lot.  There were a hundred excuses I could have used that morning to wiggle out of the commitment, but what an opportunity I would have missed – to connect, to laugh, to help out, to be in nature. I’m so grateful.

Happy weeding!
Check out this wonderful non-profit:


  1. Joan, please DO write that blog post about the conversation… it hits all the hot spots, including moving from the “I should…” to “screw it, let’s have a hot fudge sunday” 🙂 I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on that. And your point about being able to wiggle out of something but doing it anyway is a great reminder. You were richly rewarded for your commitment!

    1. Author

      I will Beth, I promise! There’s something kind of wonderful about a group of women and the tangents of our conversations. There are a few familiar places we go and comfort in the sharing.

    1. Author

      Thanks kathy, it was such a great morning and a pleasure to write!

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