CSA Week 9! Saturday, July 28th 1:30-4:30 Tuesday, July 31st 3:30-6:30
This Week’s Selection: … lettuce, chard, kale, collards, mini-onions, garlic, cucumbers and summer squash, tomatoes, herbs, carrots …
I offer you a few pre-scripts which have served as inspiration for me in recent days and weeks:
Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer, XIII (Wendell Berry)
Don’t worry and fret about the crops. After you have done all you can for them, let them stand in the weather on their own. If the crop of any one year was all, a man would have to cut his throat every time it hailed. But the real products of any year’s work are the farmer’s mind and the cropland itself. If he raises a good crop at the cost of belittling himself and diminishing the ground, then he has gained nothing. He will have to begin all over again the next spring, worse off than before. Let him receive the season’s increment into his mind. Let him work it into the soil. The finest growth that farmland can produce is a careful farmer. Make the human race a better head. Make the world a better piece of ground.
When I am Among Trees (Mary Oliver)
When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you, too, have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
When I step away from the farm for a few days, or parts of a few days, I feel refreshed; I feel the emancipating space of breathing. I write this while hoping you each hold with you the awareness of my absolute love for, and dedication to, this intoxicating and nourishing work of farming. We can simultaneously love both the work, and the stepping away from the work—both are freeing, and challenging, and courageous.
The return, the re-emersion, into this beautiful farm, is always a starling blow, as if I am affronted for the first time with the magnitude of the scene before me, the great many ways in which crops could fail—the pests, the weather, the disease, the lack of care, the weeds, the demands of time, the inexperience of the farmers. I walk through the fields with fresh but unforgiving eyes, noticing with severe pessimism and self-doubt—(or is it guilt?)—the circumstances as they exist around me—the threats of the world, and the jest of my meager attempts to work with them.
I see them also as their opposites—the generous challenges, the questionable world and its multitude of offerings which are too complicated for my paltry and reductionist understanding. I know the tomato hornworm, the gargantuan blood-seeking horse flies on Sunny’s backside, the relentless poison ivy, the woodchuck, and the drought, are teaching me lessons, each their own, just as generously as the sun and rain, the fertile earth, the patient horses, the still and silent trees. But if I know this, then why can I not allow them each to be, why can I not be glad for their tidings and welcome them with hospitality and openness, without feeling the looming threat of my own diminishment, or worse, failure, at the sight of these mere gestures of the universe?
This week, I spent three days taking an art course.[i] During some of the most luxurious days of summer, I have gone to adorn myself in painting, drawing, and poetry—the lavish ease of such a treat, the quenching offered by seeing the world through new eyes—in stillness, without task or ambition or goal, outside of self-emancipation, exploration, and creation. I lap up this delicacy. I have craved this time, this contemplation, this work of observation and composition, this restorative respite. The hugeness of the gift felt more than I could contain: how do I behold the generosity of art? How do I keep the largeness of joy and gladness within my one, small, fragile being?
And then, still full with the surge of uplifting glory, I came back to the farm: to notice the ethereal movements of the horses masticating on grass in their evening pasture, to assess the woodchuck damage—still evading the trap, to find the lettuce seedlings having waited too long to get transplanted into soil, to fit myself back into the ebb and flow of this enchanting and demanding parcel of land.
To say I fit myself back in with grace or subtlety would be untrue. Instead, I transitioned pointedly, with awkward dis-ease and confusion, reawakening to my surroundings, trying to feel welcome to the lessons, no matter their source.
There is no definitive answer to the questions I am asking, or avoiding asking, myself. These (above) words of Wendell Berry seem to reflect back to me again and again each day—a challenge, a reminder, an uplifting and kind offering to a farmer-woman with too many worries and not enough stillness, or faith. I am still learning how to be careful. I am still learning how to not belittle myself. I am still learning how to go easy, be filled with light, and shine.
Yours in Goodness and Discernment,
Lisa and Anthony
[i] A course offered by Free Columbia, a year-round art course which is free to students and funded exclusively by donations. To make a donation, take a course, or learn more about the movement toward a free cultural life, find them at http://www.freecolumbia.org/
Threshold Farm Biodynamic Apples Available Soon!
We will be taking pre-orders for these exceptional, local apples. Apples are available in bulk, to be picked-up during your normal Great Song pick-up time. Details to come... find out more at pick-ups this week, or contact us for more information.
A summer delight for the palate:
Tomato Basil Salad
1-3 medium tomatoes, ripe and cut into chunks 3/4 cup of lightly-packed basil leaves, leaves picked off of stalks and cut into slivers with a sharp, dry knife 4 finely grated carrots, unpeeled 1 finely grated clove of garlic 2 small onions, cut into chunks 1 Tbsp balsalmic 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus a dash for cooking salt and pepper
Saute onions on medium-high heat until soft and sweet. Turn off heat and add grated garlic, stir. Let cool.
Mix all other ingredients except for the basil; add onions when cool. If you have time, let the flavors mellow for a few hours.
Before serving, slice and add basil, toss together.