I just love visiting with Karen at the Grange Co-op. Especially this time of year when the chicks are in. What is it about discussing various chicken breeds and their traits that is so satisfying? Why is it that I feel so connected after these conversations? I think it’s relating on the essential and creative act of farming. I experience my urban homestead as an act of soul expression, creativity and connection with the divine. In The Artisan Soul, Erwin Raphael McManus writes about the human wounds of conformity and standardization which rob us of our life force as a result of industrialization. He writes, “Farmers, after all, understood the relationship between hard work and creation. They worked the soil; they planted the seeds; they watered the crops; and they watched life happen. They understood they were integral to the creative act…”. When we simply chat about when certain breeds are coming in, the value of raising meat chickens and the laughable characteristics of broody bantams, we are unified around the principle of fostering life. And somehow because her mother was a long term grange member and my mother was too, we feel a history together that incorporates chick season with something greater than us, with the seasonal cycles of life itself. This time of year I think about the tremendous pressure it often takes to bring forth new life; the contractions of a labor ing sheep, the great effort it takes a chick to break through its eggshell, the powerful determination a tiny sprout conveys to break the seed hull. So determined is life! So unstoppable! And yet, the lamb is so vulnerable, the chick is so delicate and the new sprout so susceptible. Though I doubt Karen is getting all teary-eyed about the life-death nature of the season, I can’t help but to be confronted with that determined yet vulnerable aspect the season reveals about my own experience. And I feel the pressure and the tenderness of new life. I hope that my artisan hands and artisan soul have the dexterity to hold it with the reverence it is due. And I hope that you all will too.