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Monday, June 20, 2011

A Diem to Carpe

By Uncle Dale

My daughter shared with me one of her favorite quotes from movies. It is from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” I have never seen the movie but when she shared the line with me, it was forever stuck in my mind – “a diem to carpe.” I like it better than carpe diem – seize the day. So now each morning, regardless of the season or weather, I jump out of bed, go out onto my deck that overlooks my backyard farm and exclaim to myself “a diem to carpe!” I have a day to seize as I look on our chickens and horses, our fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, our lawns, pastures, woods and ponds, and the timeless and historical Antietam Creek. 

Rebel and Peaches graze the lush pasture by the barn in the cool morning mist.

Another of my favorite quotes captures what we are trying to accomplish. The Mormon Prophet Brigham Young said to his followers who were pioneering a whole new ecosystem in the Great Basin of western North America, “The soil, the air, the water are all pure and healthy. Do not suffer them to become polluted. Strive to preserve the elements from being contaminated. Keep your valleys pure, keep your towns pure, keep your hearts pure, and labor as hard as you can. Adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations.” That last line encompasses everything we do at Antietam Glen. It is a sublime pleasure when angels in the form of our children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, neighbors, and unseen angels - father and mother - come to visit our beautiful location.

 Last night’s rain nourishes the garden.

You don’t need a large property to do what we are doing. My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter live in inner city Arlington, Virginia where my son works at the Pentagon to keep us safe. They own one unit of a duplex on an extremely steep hill. Their terraced yard is small but they have turned it into a veritable Garden of Eden.  Fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers adorn their habitation. As we eat dinner on their terrace surrounded by this sanctuary, I am just as content in the middle of the city as I am at our country property.

 The layers go to work to make eggs.

My sister and brother-in-law work tirelessly in suburban Sandy, Utah (aptly named) to turn their backyard farm into Eden through raised beds. They are serenaded by the neighbor’s suburban layers just on the other side of the fence.  Michael and Marisa have perhaps the greatest challenge as they struggle to make their acre of desert “blossom as a rose.” But they have thousands of assistants as “deseret” (honeybees) work alongside them.  

So I admonish each of you to seize the day and adorn your habitation. Make a garden, orchard, and vineyard. Render the earth so pleasant that your angels will come and visit your beautiful location.

Families come and go at Antietam Glen but the creek flows on forever.


Allison at Novice Life said...

What a lovely, inspiring post for a Monday morning. Your property and gardens look beautiful.


I fooled many old work associates by telling them that the Latin (Carpe Diem) on my Harvard t-shirt meant "eat a fish a day". To this day, many years later, they still believe that translation.

Brian said...

Well said. Thank you!

Alice said...

The Brigham Young quote makes me sad. Too bad we haven't done a better job in that regard.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of your religion, Brigham Young had many good messages! Beautiful post and inspiration to work harder today than I did yesterday.

Cate said...

Uncle Dale - your son's place sounds great! I live in Arlington, VA as well, and I'm working on making my garden a wonderful place on earth too - great quote! You can see my garden here at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1835249316494.2107398.1098271297&l=1828dba94b

One thing we are trying to get done in Arlington is to change the zoning ordinance to allow backyard chickens (I'm on the founding committee), so send good thoughts our way so this will happen.

Thanks for your inspiration! - Catie

Dale Johnson said...


I think I will go out on my deck each morning and exclaim "Eat a fish a day!" to see what kind of reaction I get out of my family. They will think I lost my mind.


I think you are mostly right. We have really polluted this world. But having grown up in Idaho and Utah and understanding the original ecosystem, my belief is that we have improved it greatly. As I have hiked the deserts of Utah and Idaho, I have come to the opinion that there many deserts that we need to try to preserve. But there are some deserts that we have dramatically improved upon by developing a much more diverse ecosystem. I believe the Salt Lake Valley and the desert basin across southern Idaho are two good examples.


Please document your experience in trying to change the Arlington ordinance on chickens. It would be an interesting article for this blog and it would help others who want to try to do the same thing.

Good luck!

Dale Johnson said...


You have a lot nicer looking horse that we do.

Alice said...

I think in many ways we have done wonderful things. I just feel sad when I see the gray haze covering the valley, and sad that there are days my kids can't play outside because the air pollution is so bad.

We just need to plant more trees and drive a little less. :)

Alice said...

And, I'll add- there are very few things I enjoy more than walking through the garden in the morning and evening when it's cool outside, and smelling the grass and soil and all the other wonderful garden smells. Hearing the chickens clucking. Watching the bees zip in and out of their hive. Life is pretty good.

I think I'll say Salmon Diem. I prefer salmon to carp. :)

Cate said...

Dale - Will do! As the Arlington backyard chicken movement continues, I will endeavor to write an article for the blog.