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Friday, September 11, 2009

Vegetables: The Stuff Dreams are Made of OR How to do Back Breaking Seasonal Migrant Labor for Your 2 Week Vacation

When Ilsa gets an idea in her mind, there’s no letting go. Last year around this time, Ilsa decided she’s quit her print production publishing job, leave New York City after 19 years and start an organic vegetable farm in Central Massachusetts. The details around the circumstances are more serendipitous/ridiculous than the idea itself. For the last nine months, Ilsa has been farming, sunrise until sunset. In April I took my first trip out to see the beginnings of the farm. See the recap.

I ventured back to the farm for a 2 week stint to help with whatever I could possibly help with. This time around I was more prepared for what to expect. I went in mentally prepared to do anything, but really, I wanted to do everything that was anything besides sitting at a desk. And that I did. Planting, transplanting, shoveling, cooking, harvesting, weeding, raking, fertilizing and other such farm related activities kept us busy. We laughed, ate ridiculously fresh food, chatted about the trivial and higher things in life and reminisced about the people we used to be and the future of who we will be.

While I was there I was taking in as much of the experiences as I could. I processed a lot, let go of a lot but most interestingly, I learned a lot.

I learned that ________ (fill in the blank with any of the following statements):

It may be Labor Day and it may be my 27th birthday, but farmers don’t get days off. Harvesting kale, bok choi, parsley, transplanting fennel, shoveling manure, and reclaiming beds are all in a day’s work, regardless of national holidays and personal life milestones.

Yes, you can order 3 desserts for 2 people. Consumption may be a little more difficult.

Irrational fear of bats is still intact. Don’t want to talk about it.

It doesn’t really matter which came first, the chicken or the egg. What matters is that these chickens had a coup nicer than my apartment in NYC and I was jealous. Ok, maybe that doesn’t really matter but its still true.

Its true, one person can feed the mosquito population of the state of Massachusetts. That person would be me.

After 10 days of no processed foods or unnatural sugars, I’m not as big of a witch as I thought I would be. I’m actually quite amiable and a pleasure to be around. So I think.

When Ilsa says, “we’re reclaiming beds,” it really just means we are ripping gnarly, waist high weeds from the earth, being attacked by frogs, chewed to bits by bugs while sweat pours into your eyes. Good times.

A plate of mashed potatoes is perfectly acceptable as an appetizer, lunch and/or dinner.

At the end of the day, when the sun has set and dinner is done, there isn’t a more gratifying feeling than stepping into a hot shower, lathering up in tiger balm and curling up in bed to read a good book.

Best wakeup call ever: “Its 730, If you want to start slowly making your way into an upright conscious state, that might work out well for all of us.”

Jumping on a trampoline is not as easy as it looks. Especially for some one of my grace and athletic abilities.

From an old lady at the market 1.) do everything you want to do in your life before 65. After that (insert hand gesture of a declining nature; 2.) I’m pretty. She could tell because she paints portraits.

The best friend does not understand the term “wing man.” I was left to own defenses of the creepy middle aged man who couldn't contain his need to recite poetry and simultaneously test my “poker face of interest.”

I can cross of migrant seasonal labor off my list of future careers. Particularly heavy things.

Before Ilsa turns 50 we’re going to see a movie in the French Riviera. Just because we we’ll be able to once her or I make our millions.

Great food starts with great ingredients. In the words of Michael Pollan, “Eat Food, not much, mostly plants.”

The biggest lesson of the trip: You've got one life to live, so live it and live it well.


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