Where did the month of May go? I am proud to say one thing I know for sure happened in May was my graduation from UMass. I graduated with high honors and received a bachelor’s degree of individual concentration focusing on sustainability and environmental justice. The ceremonies were somewhat anticlimactic since I have been off campus working at Rawson Brook Farm for a year. But, knowing I am free from the university is quite a relief. I am very proud and feel accomplished because I struggle with academia. We didn’t always know if I would finish, but now I can proudly say I am a college graduate.
“Now what?” is the big question my relatives and friends ask. I chuckle, then respond with a different answer each time such as, “keep on farming,” “learn how to do more stuff on a tractor,” “speak Spanish,” “hike the AT,” “go back to Latin America,” “try to be free,” “fight all forms of oppression,” “raise chickens”… the list goes on.
The truth is I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t want it that way anyway. As long as I have what matters to me most, like the things listed above, and supportive people to share with, then I’ll be happy. I want to keep my life simple and enjoy every moment. I want to continue learning and building strong relationships. I want to work the land and eat good food. I want to challenge myself to strive for mental clarity so I can make meaningful decisions that positively impact my community. I know these are more complex than they sound, but what more would I want than to live a long, full, rewarding life? What happens along the way whether it’s today, next week, next year, or in 20 years is all a beautiful mystery I patiently and openly embrace.
Although it is easy to get sucked into thinking about the past and future after graduation, I try to focus on the special individual moments as much as possible. Hearing multiple people say how inspired they are watching me design my own major and create what I wanted out of college felt incredible. “Hannah did it her way,” my Dad said. “And she’ll keep on doing it her way.”
Having a family that supports my counter-cultural, not the norm approach to life is something I cannot take for granted. My Mom asks with all seriousness, “When are you going to start your own farm?” What? She actually believes I am capable of doing that and encourages me to go after my biggest goals. How many parents are proud to see their daughters strive to be a farmer? They are a special, special pair. I could not have done any of this without them.
Another great moment was watching my dear friend Amy learn how to use a chainsaw. She really had to trust Mark, her teacher. I really had to resist my motherly comments and just watch the event. Everyone came out of the woods with all their limbs and Amy felt how empowering it is learning to use a new tool that makes lots of noise. There is something so right about showing women how to do things typically men do. I loved the big grin on Amy’s face after sawing up parts of a fallen cherry tree.
Coming back to Monterey after graduation festivities was like coming home. My chickens were happy to see me and followed me around the yard. My cat wouldn’t let me put him down. The goats are all trained for milking and the babies seem to grow a few pounds per day. Craig cooked me lunch and we ate on the porch watching a mother bird feed it’s babies in the nest. Mark and I went fishing at Lake Garfield, he caught a fishing rod on the bottom of the lake and I caught one boney perch. Susan and I planted the garden and are praying for a good rain. Glynis and I packed pounds and pounds of cheese for the big weekend kicking off summer. Michal and I cleaned barn every Saturday discussing immigrant farm politics, beekeeping, and the weather.
What a good life I have. And there are many more good things to look forward to whatever they may be. Now, I will go milk the goats. What happens when I am done and they are back in the barn munching on alfalfa is a mystery.