Heart land (Updated!)

What’s not to love about that face? Photo from Heartland Farm’s website

Like in The Grinch, my heart swells three sizes each day right now. I am truly in heart land.

“How will I get there from the Greyhound bus stop?” I ask. “I’ll pick you up,” they say, from the horse sanctuary to the Hare Krishnas.

“Are the accommodations comfortable? Is there sufficient food?” I ask the medical doctor who owns the solar-powered eco enclave in the Mojave Desert. “You will be taken care of,” he replies.

Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom. My heart beats rhythmically. I breath sighs of relief. And yet the heart-stopping moments are frequent as well, as breaking news requires I take each new turn of events, well, to heart.

I can’t keep my family up-to-date fast enough. My prayer for clear answers is, as always, a bike ride. I pedal. I pedal. I pedal. I pray. I pray. I pray.

And so it is with Heartland Farm in Pawnee Rock, Kansas (population 193).

Run by the Sisters of Dominican Peace, they feature sustainable farming and what they call eco-spirituality. They have a high tunnel for growing and special events for building community. Plus, the farm features alpacas, folks. And that means craft projects with fleece. Peace and fleece, as one of their social media posts cleverly put it. That sounds like Heaven on earth to me.

You can see their page about hosting WWOOFers here (which includes answers to some of the common questions I get about my trip — see more FAQs regarding Round America with a Duck here).

We came so close to spending time together. Christi, the farm’s operations coordinator and the person with whom I had been communicating through the WWOOF USA site, along with several nuns, had an hour-long Zoom call with me. We loved each other. It was set. I was excited.

And then I went to book the trip, from my prior stop in Joplin, Missouri (after spending a final day in that area with the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau touring the historic remains of one of the deadliest tornadoes in United States’ history) to Hays, Kansas, from which the nuns were going to pick me up from the farm an hour away.

I had already determined that Greyhound went to Hays. What I hadn’t realized was that the service to Hays had been suspended a little over a year ago. It seems there are no other non-car options that would work.

I made the hard decision to re-route, from Joplin to Denver, with an exciting and unexpected midnight bus transfer in Amarillo, Texas — stay tuned! But my heart broke when I told Christi and the nuns. I told them I would write this blog post about it to shine a little light on their amazing work. I asked if there was anything they wanted me to mention to folks. Their answer was modest, and yet so important.

“We are always needing rain,” Christi replied, as they are in the middle of a multi-year drought.

And so let’s pray for rain for Heartland Farm. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Pray, pray, pray.

Like in Titanic, I know my heart must go on. And yet, I am having trouble landing a farm stay in the Denver area. The hemp farm only has tent camping, with tents you provide (and which I’m not bringing). Another farm just takes day volunteers. A third does not accommodate vegetarians because most food they provide has lard. Are these more messages from my Maker?

I sit with these thoughts under starry nights in a white wicker chair from which I can see my Sharing Garden illuminated by the street lamp, garlic the lone crop growing now in a space where there would normally be abundant cover crops at this time of year. I got teary on our Zoom call when the nuns mentioned planting potatoes because this is the week I normally do that. And I’m not.

I’m now considering just spending a night or two in Boulder with a friend who offered to host me, who I met when where we live became the newest city in the USA 14 years ago, right before she relocated (and before I got to know her well). Her generosity, like everyone’s, stuns me. And yet it doesn’t. We are, at heart, good as a species. This I believe to be true, although it’s easy to forget or to stop believing when daily news headlines highlight other traits.

I am now looking at different farm stays between Denver and Billings, Montana (the bus requires me to transfer in Buffalo, Wyoming anyway — maybe that’s where I am called?) However, it ain’t goin’ well. The farms are hours and hours away from the bus stop.

And so the questions in my heart persist. Where does God want me? Or, at least, where does Greyhound?

Update 2/18/23! See I Lean Toward YES!

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