Let Yourself Go

It was hard to keep that Saturday free. I was asked to work at the farmers market (twice!) and I’ve missed working at the market. Our contractor had work I could do on our new place, and with our move-in day looming, our place needed all the help it could get. But I clung to this idea that I would feel better if I went up and worked on the farm instead.

And I did feel better one the farm. The day turned out to be full of things I love: the ham biscuit breakfast at the Fremont Diner, spending a sunny day outside on a beautiful piece of land in Sonoma valley, the satisfying, repetitive work of planting starts, a breeze that seemed to come along right when I was feeling too hot, time to stop and watch hawks and kites overhead and the piglets run around in their little pen.

It was nice to spend a day doing the mostly mindless work of planting starts: measuring out 12 inches between each plant, digging a hole for it, planting it as if I was tucking it into its bed, and starting again. I gradually worked my way down the half-acre row, working through the flat of eggplants.

I watched the field become thick with starts and I thought about growth for a change, instead of loss. I thought about the varieties that I’d helped plant and harvest last year: the lavender and white globe-shaped Rosa Bianca eggplants, the giant, heavy striped German tomatoes I’d harvested. There’s such hope in planting.

And there was a special treat on the farm this year: piglets. Adorable, funny piglets that rooted in the mud, napped in their straw bed, and chewed on fennel and radishes.

“Are they all named Bacon?” my friend asked. “No,” the farm hand said. “They’re all named Robert. I name all my livestock Robert.”

At the end of the work day, I ended up with two extra eggplant starts. The rows were full and when I asked the farmer if I should put them back in the greenhouse, he said to take them home and plant them. I gave one to a friend and I planted the other one in our new backyard. I’m not sure eggplant will be happy in San Francisco’s cold summer, but I’m trying to be.

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