In the fall of 2012, my siblings and I sold our family farm. The three of us got to be together, in person, for this spectacular shift in all our lives. Thanks in part to the months we had spent in conversation over the Sibling Discovery Project, we approached this life event as a team, united as business people, creators, and siblings—in ways and to an extent we have never been connected before.
But the event consumed us, and our progress on the Sibling Discovery Project slowed, at least in terms of monthly prompts, output, and discussions about the creative process. In September, we were to work on and discuss the prompt repair. I’m sure we did it, but in my reasonably organized files, I find no photos, poems, essays, or notes from our discussion.
Ah, well. When the sale was complete, we got back on track with our shared artistry, resuming the Sibling Discovery Project with the word grain. Paul brought a vision for a carving, Norma hacked up a previous work to start a new one, and I wrote a poem.
Paul sent us sisters a photo of a piece of oak (which I also cannot find … doggonnit). He told us the instant we pulled the word grain as our next prompt, he thought of a carving project that would feature three stalks of wheat coming up on the right. On the left would be these words: “Mind the grain.”
Paul attends classes, conferences, and other events with wood carvers from all around the world. “‘Mind the grain’ is something the Brits in the group always say,” he explained. When carving, working with the grain of the wood makes for easier work and more pleasing results.
For us farm kids, the phrase has another meaning. Farmers have to mind the grain, too, as they pay attention to their crops.
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Remember Norma’s first attempt at “potluck”? She wasn’t thrilled with that piece. So this month she cut it up and began transforming it into a new piece of work:
“It’s becoming a mash-up of Blest Be the Tie that Binds and As the Grains of Wheat,” she said. “I probably won’t have time to work on it for another five months, but it will be something I keep, because I really like it. It’s a picture of community.”
Ultimately, she says the work will feature a lot more brown, with not as much gold around the grains. She may make the grains that are scattered on the hill more hidden. So many possibilities …
“Playing around with hymns for personal art is kind of fun,” Norma told us. “I do it often for church work. This is helping me learn to ‘color map’ music.”
I piped in with a poem.
A Poem by Beth Nyland, November 3, 2012 …
from the road
the combine’s roar
is a soothing hum
as its slow roll
comes to a stop
engaging a force
the separated grain
up and out
of the harvester’s
to be fed
the old man shake
dust off his cap
from his thermos
in the setting sunlight
we both admire
the fruit of his labor