Monday, October 27, 2008


Several weeks ago, I attended a spiritual retreat where there was a strong Canadian connection. It so happened that the event was held on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, in early October, so we feasted on turkey with all the trimmings at our banquet. A tasty foreshadowing of our U.S. Thanksgiving, nearly a month away.

The farm has its own Thanksgiving day, though. It's a date not marked on any calendar, except in retrospect.

Today is Thanksgiving: the first killing frost.

A couple weeks ago, we had a light glimmer of frost a couple nights, and I spent from midnight to 5 a.m. picking tomatoes by the light of my headlamp: about 10 big crates. Today, I picked another 8 crates. Tonight promises to be the real killing frost.

Brought into the garage, they will continue to ripen for quite awhile...whatever I don't sell at Farmer's Market the next two weeks. I'll make everything I can think of (and have time for) with green tomatoes--time permitting. I'll sort through them time and again, making sure that one bad tomatoes doesn't spoil the "barrel".

The photo shows some of the farm's bounty--a combination of stuff pulled out of the fridge on a whim, and stuff waiting to be made into salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc. There are tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, tat soi (greens), mutton summer sausage, baked potatoes, pickled radishes and jerusalem artichokes, applesauce, garlic, sage, and a small bottle of homemade "V-8" juice.

The colors and textures of the vegetables are so beautiful, more beautiful to me than any painting--partly because they are alive. When kept improperly, or too long, you can see the life go out of them little by little. It is sad, though as inevitable as the yellowing and falling of the autumn leaves. I have to really bite my tongue to keep quiet when housemates store their vegetables in ways that show lack of concern for the well being of the produce.

Am I nuts? No, just a gardener. I cringe at the psychic screams of dessicating plant material. And also I am passionate about nutrition (not that you'd know that by how I feed myself these days.).

As I approch the second anniversary of my repossession of the farm and house after my sabbatical, I've been reflecting a lot on how the farm and I have grown together, how we feed and frustrate one another in so many ways, how connected I am to this land.

How connected? The vitamins and minerals in these vibrant vegetables are about to become my muscles and bones, my very energy. But these nutrients didn't just magically appear in the vegetables. They came from the farm's soil, carried up through the roots by water from the Kansas river and the season's plentiful rain, synthesized by the sun though nearly miraculous processes. From the soil (silt from the river, deposited over hundreds of years) to the plant to my hands to my body.

Dirt farmer...a farmer made of the dirt she farms.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

My bones are the only stones this soil grows.

No wonder I am so strong, so stubborn in my determination to ransom this land from the world's economy.

1 comment:

chocoa said...

3 weeks today-
two dozen big green tomatoes stolen/picked from my plants, obviously by my new neighbour, a pushy Croatian with the recently purchased foreclosed building next door; I know he sent his Mexican worker climbing over my fence. . .
These days I am partial to tomatillos.