Waxing Poetic (farm blog)
The internet has exploded with weather memes, all of which make me laugh. It does seem like we moved from rather suddenly from Augtober to Novembruary. I guess this decade wanted to go out with a boom and set a bunch of records before we got to 2020. What doesn’t make me laugh as much is the fact that it hasn’t reached even 30° at 10:30 a.m. So, I decided it was a good time to start checking the weather in the Dominican Republic.
Now that’s better. I only have to survive these extremes for 23 more days. After growing throughout the winter the last couple of years, and staying put for the last several years, Jason and I are heading WAY south for most of December. Yep. The farmers are taking a vacation. We’re not even going to visit a farm while we’re there. It’s just pure vacation. It’s becoming about the only thing I can think about (well that and learning Spanish), so if I forget to write the blog like I did this week, that’s why😊
I remember when I was a girl, I would go out dirt biking by myself in the trails near my parents’ cabin. There were times I would get myself into little predicaments that I’m sure my father or my brother could have simply muscled their way out of. But I was a small girl, a bit far from home, and WAY before cell phones were even a twinkle in the eyes of the inventors. So I had to think my way out of them using whatever resources I had at hand. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.
And so I found myself harkening back to those days just the other day. We were facing some pretty high wind gust predictions with the cold front that was slated to kill the remaining peppers and chiles. So we decided we had better just go ahead and remove the plastic sheltering said peppers just in case. Jason says he’s the only one strong enough to remove the clips holding the plastic….challenge accepted.
So I found that I could, in fact, just muscle them off, but it wasn’t going to be fast and I was going to wear myself out before the job was finished. Instead, I decided that, just like that little girl, I was going to think my way into an easier way with the resources I had at hand. Eventually, I emerged a victor with the clips removed and my hands still functioning. The plastic is down and the structures are intact. And Jason can no longer say he’s the only one strong enough to do it. 😊
And sometimes, in late October, this happens
Have you ever trained for a marathon? How long does it take? How long do they have to maintain the focus and motivation required to pull it off? Because it seems like my focus fades sometime in October every year. Not that farming is exactly like training for a marathon, but it is a bit similar, if not quite as cardiovascular. We begin in December with intense planning and in January, we set off on the journey of implementing that plan. By the early March, we’re full throttle and fully immersed in the plan. After that we barely look up to see where we are in the plan. Breathing hard, we just put one foot in front of the other. Until sometime in late October when our focus blurs.
I suppose it’s the finish line at the end of our tunnel vision, but we’ve got no capacity for an increase in intensity. Instead, we stumble. Last week, I missed three turns in one day and forgot half of the produce for market at the farm. Maybe this doesn’t sound unusual, but those three turns were turns I take every Wednesday for 8 months of every year for the past twelve years! Huh? What can I say except I guess I lost my focus. I must have been daydreaming about feet up in front of the wood stove, or Dominican vacations, or even Thanksgiving turkey. Sigh. I’d better get it back together so I can cross that December finish line with a strong finish.
Enjoy this amusing smiling face in this butternut squash
I read this the other day: “How wonderful is it that we laugh because our bodies cannot contain the joy”. I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? I love the random acts of funny that people create just for the amusement of others. This, I believe, is the only true altruism. Have you heard of Improv Everywhere? They’re a group of random people that create amusing live acts mostly in New York City just for the amusement of other people. And how about all the funny memes all over the internet that are created just for our laughter. The creators don’t even get to see us laugh! But they create them and send them out into the world anyway. Humor connects us.
I have had complete strangers send me pictures of faces in things, and distant acquaintances send me puns. I love that people far away from me see an amusing thing out there in the world and think of me and want to share a moment of laughter with me. Humor can cross distances both physical and political. I mean, kitten antics are funny in any language and no matter where you stand on the political spectrum. So, let’s all take a moment together to let the joy escape us in magnificent laughter. What have we got to lose?
Suddenly lonely farm dog and summer weeds about to die in the first frost
The frost is coming soon. It’s hard to believe it was 100° just two weeks ago, and now we’re saying goodbye to summer crops and turning our heads forward to carrots and cauliflower and winter hats and freezing fingers. We’ve said goodbye to half of our farmily. We’re now comprised of only four of us and one lonely and bored farm dog and three ecstatic cats. Yes friends, it’s the goodbye season.
But we’re prepared for goodbye. We’re tired of the incessant harvesting of peppers and okra and eggplant. We’re ready for carrot digging, and radish pulling. We’re ready to open cans of preserved summer tomatoes for soup season (of course, we’ve still got more tomatoes coming in the greenhouse). And most of all, we’re ready for those summer weeds that we let escape us during the mad season to die of their own volition in the frost. So, as bittersweet as it is to say goodbye to good people and good food, the fall is not without it’s own glory.
It’s just that season. The one where all the impossible task lists shrink to questions of whether or not we have enough work for everyone (we do). The one where naps seem like more of a possibility. The one where the most pressing issue is what to be for Halloween. It’s a slow breath out, October (now that it’s here for real), as we shed the weight of the world for warm clothes and begin to reflect on all that has passed way too quickly this season. We decompress, we deconstruct, we breath, we plan for the next season.
I want to excuse my sentence with an apology for being “master of the obvious”, however, it is not at all obvious that it is October 1st today. I mean, huh? I try really hard not to complain about the heat so that I don’t feel bad complaining about the cold, and know I was sort of hoping for a warm September, but it’s October now and the nature of things is that I’m not supposed to wish I were floating the river in October! But somehow, “feels like 112°” has me eyeing up my tubes with an indecent longing.
I should be waxing poetic about low angles of the sun, and evenings of prosecco on the porch, and lazy Sundays (okay, I admit I had one of those, I just didn’t leave the air conditioning!), but instead I find myself drawn to the subject of sweat. And continuously screen shotting my weather app, because WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO TALK ABOUT?
And so we arrive, floating on the gentle evening breezes of late September, into autumn. The days are layered into neat stacks of seasons with the mornings bundled in the sweatshirts and winter hats of late winter, the mid-days coated in the sweat of summer, and the evenings a slow unfurling of a tepid night. I am drawn to the porch, and the languid rustle of leaves, and the low slant of the sun that transforms the sky into cerulean.
Contrary to common belief, the living is not easy in summertime. Summertime is sweat and dirt, and the incessant rush of life from the soil that demands planted, weeded, de-bugged, and harvested. Autumn is the drifting of leaves on a lake, the slow stretch of the cat in the sunshine, the heavy lidded afternoon nap beneath curtains swaying in the warm breeze. Autumn, and the living is easy.
I hear a lot about living in the moment. And complaints about how cell phones and their evolution into miniature computers has none of us living in the moment. To be fair, I do think my “device” has changed my brain a little bit. I mean, all of my lists are kept there, and my calendar, so I never have to actually remember anything. And it’s true that I find myself thinking in social media bites (oh! I should get a picture of that for social media). Guilty.
But as I was canning tomatoes the other day, it occurred to me that we’ve never just truly lived in the moment. I mean, I wasn’t just sitting on the porch enjoying that moment of tomato season. Nope, I was thinking about the future when there aren’t going to be any tomatoes. And yesterday, when I was smoking jalapenos to preserve them into the winter months when we won’t have that flavor (or heat) again.
This time of year often churns me into a preservation frenzy. When the evening weather is perfect for porch sitting and just enjoying the moment, I find myself rushing around putting things in jars because THIS MOMENT ISN’T GOING TO BE HERE MUCH LONGER! I know, I know, the irony. But maybe I’ll enjoy that winter moment when I’m eating some crazy delicious home grown organic chipotle tomato sauce from food I preserved in late September. Maybe.
The Tumbling Shoals Farm Crew (minus Jason) at Farm Prom hosted by our farmer friends at Bluebird Farm last Saturday
Have you ever taken a “real age” test? Where you answer a bunch of questions about lifestyle and habits and you get back a “real age” (hint, if you want to be younger than you are, you can’t ride a motorcycle😊).
The other day, a friend of mine was talking about being of “retirement age” but her “financial age” was much younger. Ha! I get a kick out of the idea of a “financial age.” And you know, organic farming and all the healthy eating and constant physical activity might keep me young, but it especially keeps me financially young😉. Luckily, we’ll be so young physically that we won’t need to retire!