“There are several words for thank you, there is no word for please.”  I am reading Braiding Sweetgrass*, and Robin Wall Kimmerer, a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation, is talking about table manners in her native tongue.  “Food was meant to be shared,” she explains.  “No added politeness needed; it was simply a cultural given that one was asking respectfully.”

This is the paradox of my existence, I think as I underline the passage.  My life is rich with gifts that need to be shared:  chickens, eggs, lamb, beef, pork, turkeys, wool…..and words.  And yet I live in an economy that relies on money for nearly all transactions.  

My daily calling is to steward, shepherd and cultivate those gifts until they find their way to my customers and readers. And while the margins are frightfully slim,  society allows me to ask money for a chicken or a pork chop.  That money pays the farm taxes, pays the labor, pays the feed and insurance bills.

But then there are the words.  I make sense of my world through my words.  There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t escape into the deep recesses of my mind to consider how best to spin my thoughts and questions into words so that they may be shared with you.  

Bringing my writing to the public comes at a cost, including hosting fees, design fees, domain fees, and the time spent writing that could be applied toward a more profitable venture.  I don’t ask the farm side of the business to cover those costs.  The writing should support itself. 

I need to write.  I need to share it.  I could put a paywall on my weekly essays, or accept the advertising dollars and “guest post” solicitations that I receive repeatedly, but I feel those things violate the spirit of the gift I’ve been given.

The essays appear each week during the growing season as my  gift to you.  In the winters, when the blog is dormant, my words continue at a faster pace.  I write every single day, working on books that may or may not make it to the public eye. 

And like the Potawatomi, you don’t need to use the word please to partake.  

But I sure as heck enjoy expressions of thanks.  

The monthly patronage and one-time donations that come from my readers help to offset the web fees; and in the winter months when cash flow slows tremendously, those accumulated donations keep the lights on for my family.  

A few of you have come forward with extremely generous monthly patronage, helping to keep this blog in place for the thousands who enjoy it. Thank you. Please don’t stop!

But the work is not sustainable if it relies on the extreme generosity of only a few people.  It needs to be broadly supported.  So this month, I’d like to initiate an Itty Bitty campaign:  a (hopefully) painless  way for more people to lend their support and help me keep doing what I love.  As an expression of thanks for the writing, I’m hoping all of you will two things for me:

  1. If you aren’t a patron already, please consider offering a tiny ongoing monthly donation, in the amount of $1-5 per month.  If everyone came forward with small amounts that they wouldn’t feel in their monthly expenses, my costs would be covered.
  2. Please help my readership to grow by forwarding the weekly emails to folks who’d enjoy them,  and please re-post to your social networks.  As you are all aware, I’m not-so-keen when it comes to major publicity.  I’ve turned down major television spots, refused a number of radio interviews, and take public speaking jobs with great reluctance.  Publicity interferes greatly with my responsibilities to raise a family, educate my children, run a business and still find enough quiet time to reflect and write.  Your efforts to carry the work forward to new readers are extremely valuable.  

I fantasized about writing this piece to you and, in the Potawatomi tradition,  avoiding the use of the word please.  But I’m a Western girl, deeply in love with the English language, and I am asking you to help me keep those English words flowing into your inbox…..please. 

Ps:  Some of you prefer to avoid using your credit cards online.  I am more than happy to accept checks!  You can mail them, payable to Shannon Hayes,  to 832 West Fulton Rd, Suite 2, West Fulton, NY 12194.  I’ll send you a note to let you know I’ve received them.  THANK YOU!

*Thanks for the book recommendation, Peter!