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A Writer’s Ripening – and answers to a conservation planning survey

My mom asked me a few days ago, “How do you create a piece of writing at 4 am?”

I said, “I dunno, it just comes to me after I ripen.”

We use the word, “ripen” around here to loosely describe our granddaughter’s napping regime. When she wakes up, hopefully on her own, she has a ritual of cuddling and a ripening process that allows her to morph back into a sweet, little package of joy. No ripening time means stressful times ahead!

Ripening for a 57 year old Pop Pop is a bit more subdued and at times, quite random. So random in fact, that inspiration can infiltrate almost at a moment’s notice. Take this morning at 3:10 am. I checked to make sure the water was still dripping – pipe protection from the below-zero temperature – checked to see if there was any new snow, and then, since I was already up, maybe I could create something.

When my little desk light turns on in the wee hours, it illuminates memories of my brother, Scot – a pillow made from his favorite Carhart jacket and a deeply moving picture of a buck I took the day I delivered my brother’s eulogy. Then I situate my chair, and my eyes traverse the wall of accomplishment plaques, family photos, an American flag, my old Waterville High football jersey and a blackboard that contains Hadley’s majestic mermaid drawing.

Behind me is my book shelf and next to me is a mash-up pile of story ideas, yellow notepads, grazing charts, projects completed and work to be done. It’s my sanctuary, as I can imagine being like writers, Louis Bromfield, Aldo Leopold, Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry, David Kline and Henry David Thoreau.

My ripening, ALWAYS, has music. It’s my trigger, my wake-up call. The choice of music is also very random with the early morning giving way to guitar ballads, serious riffs, instrumentals and quality vocals in all genres, old and new. This morning’s selections came from the bands Starset, Smash into Pieces, Danny Gokey and the Linkin Park Orchestra to name a few.

The ripening continued with headphones on as I researched tree sale flyers and bought trees from the Saratoga Nursery, Albany County SWCD and Madison SWCD. I then checked my email to find a farmer survey on conservation planning and just like that, I was enthralled with the questions—writing my comments and basically contributing a narrative of reality to the agency.

Looking back at the 4:30am creation, it was like doing calisthenics for my 2 fingers as the music serenaded my brain cells.

The problem with responding to the survey (, I searched for an Aldo Leopold quote to make my point and got mesmerized by the depth of his land ethic sentiments. Then instead of writing, (what the heck was I gonna write again?), I started reading about Alder Fork, trout streams, erosion, land care and human relationships with nature according to Mr. Leopold.

This segment of the “now” 5am ripening process, randomly or purposefully, circled me and my crazy brain back to trees, grandkids, legacy and mortality which made me sob incessantly for no particular reason. This also seems to be a part of ripening for me — the intense emotional strife or connection to a deep subject. It only makes sense to me because at the height of profoundness and clarity, a powerful intro of drums and the song, “Back to the Earth” by Starset, pulsated my veins to open Microsoft Word and begin writing.

Mom, thanks for the question because it’s now 7:30 am and my first sip of coffee is hitting my lips as I finish this 710-word piece of writing I didn’t know I wanted to write at 3am. As a writer, Mom, I’ve been told one needs a decent epilogue to finish a piece. Epilogues they say often act as a teaser trailer to any possible sequels that might be created later. Here ya go.

“Art is a ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light.”

~ Jerzy Grotowski

What am I going to write about tomorrow? I don’t know but, I’ll share something after I’ve have a good ripening. J

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Troy Bishopp
Troy Bishopp
Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is a seasoned grazier and grasslands advocate who owns, manages and linger-grazes at Bishopp Family Farm in Deansboro, NY with his understanding wife, daughters, grandchildren and parents. Their certified organic custom grazing operation raise dairy heifers, grass-finished beef and backgrounds feeder cattle on 180 acres of owned and leased pastures. Troy also mentors farmers on holistic land management for the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist. This award-winning free-lance writer, essayist and photographer maintains a website presence at


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