In August of 2004 I took a writing course called Writing Shelburne Farms. It was taught by Elizabeth Getchell, a professor at the University of Vermont, and Gale Lawrence, a writer. For as long as I can remember I have been keeping a journal and, for most of my adult life, I have told people that the reason I ask so many questions is because I am writing a book. So the idea of taking a writing course, giving myself the gift of two weeks devoted to writing was exciting. Plus, it was at Shelburne Farms, a place I have felt deeply connected to since I first stumbled upon it in the winter of 1974. Here is one piece from that wonderful two week course.
     Moodling, such a delicious word. Gale told us about moodling today. It is when you put ideas on the back burner while you go about the tasks that are on the front burners. All the ideas from this writing course, for example, can be placed on the back burner to moodle while I do the laundry, or grocery shop, or make supper. Moodling gives the mind a chance to relax, go on vacation. Then, when it’s time to write again there is a wealth of material that almost writes itself.
     I think that farming moodled on the back burner for years and years. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I didn’t actively engage in any form of farming except for two weeks every summer visiting my grandparents and great-grandmother. I pursued very non-farming careers, although I did begin vegetable and flower gardening when I was twenty. Through my twenties my gardens were my friends-where I meditated-how I kept hold of me. The idea of farming was moodling. I mean, I was a banker, after all.
     Farming moodled there on the back burner until my mid-thirties when someone asked me to write down any interests or skills I might have that I would be willing to share with children in my daughter, Jaska’s, school. Well, I had beautiful gardens. I loved started seeds. I was captivated by the magic, the mystery in the world of plants. I could share that! And I loved, still do, working with kids.
     Jaska’s teacher, Sue Jewett, also a passionate gardener, took me up on my offer. Soon I was turning on lights and starting seeds with fourth graders. I was winging it all the way when it came to creating lesson plans. But I KNEW how to grow things and I intuitively knew how to talk to kids and enroll them in the magic.
     A farmer-educator-business owner emerged like a butterfly from its cocoon.