Monday, March 17, 2014

Look what a good few nights' sleep gets you

I've been sleeping very well this weekend. I think it's partly the fact that I managed to bring very little work home with me for our two-week Spring Break. I have two moderately big committee projects and about thirty pieces of grading, which in nothing very much in the grand scheme of things. Aimee has a few more things to do, but is also sleeping well.

It may also be because there's still a ton of snow on the ground and so the mud season chores around the farm have not yet begun. Once the snow is gone we'll have much more to do, raking up the winter's debris in the dooryard, turning the compost heap, repairing the greenhouses, both of which were damaged by heavy snow. Ant that's just the beginning. But all of that has to wait for now. The snow is still thick on the ground and the cold weather will mean it won't begin to melt quickly for a few more days. It will be spring soon enough, and then we shall have lambs coming and night checks and so much less sleep. But for now, we have a small season of blessed quiet.

Call it pre-mud season, or late winter. You'd think we'd have cabin fever, but actually what we have is a special and very welcome kind of calm. Aimee has the summer plants starting under lights, and I'm thinking of doing some spring cleaning, but neither of us is in a big hurry to start the headlong rush to harvest-time that comprises spring and summer on any small farm.

I have a list, of course, but it's minor stuff. Yesterday -- other than walking the dogs for a mile twice and cleaning house, which don't need to go on any list -- I cleaned up in the shed, fixed the bolt on the front door and set the tappets on the Land Rover. Big deal! I also took two hour-long naps on the couch.

So I've slept and slept, and so has Aimee. And with sleep has come dreams for both of us. Last night I dreamed that she and I were somehow assigned to host, of all people, Vladimir Putin for, of all things, a picnic! We were supposed to avoid making a diplomatic incident, so we weren't to let our feelings about him show. Imagine! The erstwhile tyrant was well-behaved and didn't invade any countries during the meal, at least as far as we could tell. And then I dreamed I was back at the Findhorn commune, only this time with students on a field trip, trapped in an endless food line in the old original kitchen at the caravan park. One of our Unity College colleagues, Dr. Eaton, was with us, but snuck away from the food line to study math in the University of St. Andrews library (which was somehow now located close to Forres, although in reality it's at the other end of the A9 highway).

These are, of course, old haunts I'm dreaming about. When I was on III Squadron and stationed at RAF Leuchars, I had a non-student membership of the university library, and used to check out books on geology and the human history and ecology of the British Isles and Scandinavia, two of my big interests back then, and still. And a year or so later, after demob, I used to cook vegetarian breakfast, lunch, and dinner every Thursday in the caravan park kitchen. I wasn't an official member of the commune, but the kitchen's permanent staff needed a day off each week, so they and I worked out a sweet deal whereby I would run the kitchen for one day each week, leading the volunteers the commune always had in large numbers, while the staff had a kind of prayer retreat in the morning, and a well-earned afternoon off.

I worked out a different work exchange for my accommodation at Minton House, and the upshot was, for three days work a week, I had my food and accommodation tax free and could do what I wanted with my other four days. With this copious spare time I ran a handyman business around the local community, fixing laundry machines and wotnot for pocket money, and volunteered several days each week for the Findhorn Foundation Youth Project, which seems to still be up and running after all these years. At least, it has a webpage.

I think dreams are sometimes the mind's way of subconsciously reflecting on old or new troubles and events that you haven't had time to reflect on more consciously. I left both Leuchars and Findhorn behind years ago, but I left both places in a hurry to get someplace else, deadlines imposed externally. But I deeply loved both the St. Andrews University Library and the Caravan Park kitchen, albeit in different ways. And I extracted life lessons from each. Perhaps I haven't quite finished with these lessons.

At least, that's just the sort of unscientific nonsense the New Agers at Findhorn would come up with! More likely, our minds just wander randomly while sleeping deeply.

I'm not sure what the Vladimir Putin stuff is about, though. Very unsettling, that!

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