I met my baby sister Maria - she’s 24 now, so maybe I need to stop calling her ‘baby’…
my mom, and my mom’s sister, my aunt Sherri. We got Anna’s , argued over whether or not they could watch the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, because I hadn’t seen the one before yet (it was on my Tivo at home) and packed for the morning.
In the morning we met one of my best buddies from Boston at the Deluxe Town Dinner (blue corn pancakes basically rock this world) for breakfast and then got on Route 2 for the drive west towards I91N.
Heading back to Brattleboro is always so surreal for me. It is familiar and different and I always think I am going to see someone I know, although it happens less and less these days. I lived in Bratt from the time I was 9 until I left for Boston at 23. That’s a large chunk of life. I learned to drive in this town, and navigating the familiar twists and turns created a feeling in me (good I think) that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Although I’d never been to Alia’s Farm, I’ve known The Bunker Farm since high school. My sister and her partners lease it from the father of one of my good friends from high school. I’ve swum in her pond, camped in her fields and gotten dropped off by my lacrosse coach in her front yard, to run my way back to school.
Driving up to The Bunker Farm as it is now was a strange sort of homecoming and it was quite an unexpected experience.
I live in my little suburban world with my minivan and corporate job. I shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and Target, take my kids to the pool in my development, and send them to the local public montessori school. Other than being way too far away from my family and friends in New England, in general I really love my life in NC. I am happy to be here, doing what I am doing for now.
But a lot of times I forget, however, that there is a whole other part of me that knows how to live another kind of life.
I know how to milk cows and collect eggs, how to cook with ingredients grown in the earth upon which I am standing. I know how to cook and bake for 30+ hungry workers, that you don’t multiply leavening or salt more than 2 or 3 times no matter how many multiples of the recipe you are making. I know how to weed and mulch and shake cream into butter. I know that carrying two 5 gallon buckets full of water is easier than carrying one and that baby pigs fed gallons of melted ice cream from a broken freezer, will go coocoo bananas for an afternoon. I know how to chop the head off of and pluck a chicken. I know how to direct groups of people working together on a project, and that if it frosts overnight, pouring a little bit of water on each plant that would not otherwise survive the frost before the sun comes up it will save it. I know how to can foods and what a root cellar is for. I know how to darn socks, why layering is warmer and how to do it. I know how to chop wood, stack it so it won’t fall down and bank a fire for the night. I even know how to card and spin wool, how to weave and make braided rugs and have pooped in an outhouse.
I know, you’re shocked right? Actually, I kind of am too. I do love and miss many of the aspects of farm and small town life. It’s just not what I am choosing for myself right now. And also, it is mostly impossible to survive financially farming these days which is a truly sad testament to the state of our world.
But being on my sister’s farm for the weekend I remembered some very interesting things that I had forgotten. I really do miss parts of that kind of life. The feeling at the end of a well spent day. The satisfaction of a meal grown and cooked right there. The feeling of community when you have people whom you have known for 26 years and who know what you looked like on your first day of school come for dinner. That I am super competent and strong and smart and capable. That I love being a mom and that I truly believe I need to change some things about my boy’s upbringing.
Specifically that in general they need to eat more dirt.
Between 30 and 40 people showed up each day to celebrate Alia’s birthday and to work. My brother Jonah, friends, neighbors, family and even some customers who stop now and then to buy milk, eggs and produce showed up, rolled up their sleeves and pitched in.
It was incredible! I was fun and hard work, and a sweet wonderful reminder for me. Am I going to move to a farm anytime soon? No. But it has helped me to remember some important things I had forgotten, helped me reshape my summer plans (I am bringing the boys back this summer) and given me one hellofva great weekend.
Thanks Lee, and Happy Birthday!!