Balancing Act / by Ryan Koch


I had coffee on Wednesday with a woman who just relocated to Lexington. She and her husband had been living in Maine, and they were wondering what to do with their food waste. They knew it was not trash, or at least, they didn’t want it to be. We talked about what Seedleaf does to gather compost from area restaurants and kitchens in cooperation with Lexington’s Division of Waste Management. We also talked about how we are expanding that service to accommodate residential organic waste through the Compost Carpool service. It wasn’t all just an advertisement though. We discussed what it is like to settle into this place, some of the good work underway, some of the concerns that go ignored by many of us, hidden in plain sight. Some of these issues are glaring, shocking to newcomers. There is so much work left to do.

Then in the afternoon I visited the home of a woman who was planning to move to Colorado. She and her family had lived here for years and were ready for a change. She showed me her tomato cages. Then we looked at her garden patch, her view of one of Lexington’s reservoirs. She told me about the turkeys and eagles(!) she sometimes sees from her back yard. I received the donation of some of her tomato cages, and some bone meal, a few things looking for a new home.

I had some dear friends move from Lexington over a year ago. I was hopeful about their move, hopeful about their new life. And by all accounts, it has gone beautifully well. Troublingly well, maybe. The trouble being on my end. I am amazed by how a life can quietly and quickly change, and by how a family can adapt so seamlessly, like a grafted branch bearing fruit on a new tree.

I can remember when Jodie and I were new here. We were glad for a lot of what we saw. We lamented some of the hurtful aspects, things unsettled and unsettling. We have helped when we thought we could. And we have grieved what we felt powerless to address. We continue to work on small solutions, to connect with neighbors, to raise our children. We live here.

And we bear witness to some comings and goings, to seasons in the lives of our neighbors and acquaintances. We try to notice, to attend. We try to give our attention to the right things, which is more work than you would ever expect. There are so very many meetings, gatherings, events, workshops, parties—so many things to fill a week. 

We have lived in this area for fifteen years. That is longer than I have ever lived anywhere. And fifteen years from now, our children will be grown and launched, possibly done with college. That’s quite a thing. I am enamored of midpoints, of the halfway mark of a hike, or any journey. And I think that’s what I felt happening this past Wednesday. I embodied that midpoint as I spoke with my neighbors, one new to town and one finishing a stage on her journey. 

I wonder what else we are balanced upon in this season, at this very moment?