Traveling west and living a patchwork life


The kids and I spent the past week traveling across the country to the West Coast. On the way, we collected stories and songs of the grasslands, of the mountains, of the sea. We watched the landscape change, the changes unfolding slowly across the miles, and I was astonished, as I always am on road trips, by the beauty of the earth and of her mutability.

While packing our suitcases the day before we left for our journey, I jotted down the first lines of this poem. The hours on the road gave me some time to think about it more. Now I’m not sure if it’s a poem or a mission statement, but I’d thought I’d share it here with you.

Patchwork Manifesto

I want to live a patchwork life.
I want things to look a little cobbled together
stitched up with baling twine and wire.
I want the garden a little weedy
because it turns out almost all those weeds are edible,
and the ones that aren’t?
Well, they are useful to the soil that’s hungry too.
I want my kids dressed in hand-me-downs
and hand-mades,
things that have a story,
things that have a long life,
so when they wear them we can say:
Here’s a shirt your cousin Via loved,
Here’s the dress your Grandma sewed.
That’s how they will learn,
none of this belongs to just them.
That’s how they will learn we are all just passing through
passing down
passing on
what we’ve learned until what we’ve go
tis a giant quilt,
a little weathered, a little ragged
with all the best and brightest pieces
keeping us warm.
Until it’s time for them to add their own small squares
to the design.


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Eliza Blue is a shepherd, folk musician and writer residing in western South Dakota. In addition to writing her weekly column, Little Pasture on the Prairie, she writes and produces audio postcards from her ranch and just released her first book, Accidental Rancher. She also has a weekly show, Live from the Home Farm, that broadcasts on social media every Saturday night from her ranch.



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